When nutrient dense plant and animal foods take centre stage on your plate (and in your belly!), your health will naturally improve. An emphasis on real food means less room for fake food like sugar, artificial sweeteners, packaged and processed products, trans fats, and alcohol. But where does protein fit into all of this?
The Role of Protein
Dietary protein is essential for building and repairing many body tissues including bones and muscles, connective tissue like tendons and ligaments, skin, hair, and teeth. An adequate intake of protein is critical to feeling full and satisfied following a meal, preserving lean body mass, and maintaining stable energy levels throughout the day.
How Much Protein Do We Need?
Aim for 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of total body weight, with those engaging in high intensity activity or endurance athletics occupying the upper end of this range. This calculation leaves most women in the 80-110 grams of protein per day range, while men typically fall somewhere between 100-120 grams per day. What does this look like?
A Palm of Protein
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much protein to meet our needs. A good rule of thumb (or palm!) is to include a piece of protein the size of your own palm at every meal.
For example, the 100 grams per day suggestion would be met with:
- 3 eggs at breakfast (18 grams)
- 6 ounces of chicken at lunch (39 grams), and
- 6 ounces of steak at dinner (48 grams).
It’s a Cinch
Most people find they can easily meet their protein needs without a lot of extra planning when they emphasize eggs, poultry, fish and seafood, meat, or plant-based sources like quinoa, lentils and beans, hemp, chia, nuts and seeds at every meal. Together with ample fresh veggies and healthy fat, insulin levels remain low to keep your appetite and your weight in check. What’s not to love about that?
Now I want to hear from you. Do you make it a priority to consume a palm of protein at every meal? How do you ensure you emphasize protein at breakfast?
Thanks for reading,
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Carolyn, am I confused? Thought quinoa, lentils and beans were not recommended by ERFA?
Also, how many slices of bacon would you suggest as a protein?
Carolyn Coffin says
Hi Mary, I mentioned quinoa, lentils, and beans as plant-based sources of protein that vegetarians would have to gravitate towards to meet their daily needs. In the last year with my endurance training, I have also needed to add more carbohydrates from healthy sources in order to recover properly from my workouts, so I’ve chosen quinoa, sweet potato, wild rice, and chick peas — even though they’re not highlighted on our ERFA “plate” necessarily, they can be a healthy source of carbohydrates/protein for some people. Sorry for the confusion.
Pauline Roswell says
I notice you mention beans above. My understanding is that Beans are not part of the Primal way of Living??
Carolyn Coffin says
Hi Pauline, sorry once again for the confusion. Please see my reply to Mary who asked the same question. Carolyn