Procrastinating protein?? 28/04/11

So hopefully now you’ve all downloaded the Free Nutrition Resource you have begun a journey in the way you think about your nutritional choices, how to deal with barriers and find solutions and how to work at creating habits which are great for your goals, more often than not.

You also be jumping up and down dying to give me the answer to that most basic of guideline questions, “the focus of every meal should be….”

Did you get it? Protein of course! There are countless reasons why protein should be the focus of each meal, transitional or main. Firstly, protein fills you up! Every meal is designed to satisfy and see you on till the next meal, so focusing on protein is a big step towards that. Protein is also highly thermogenic! It uses many of it’s own calories just to digest, unlike fats or carbohydrates. Digesting protein can help keep your metabolism high. During weight loss, you want to keep as much lean body tissue as possible to keep the metabolism firing even as your weight is coming down. By keeping a constant supply of proteins and amino-acids in the system, the body won’t feel us much need to break down your muscle tissue. The list goes on, post on the facebook community page if you want more!

So comes the issue, what protein sources are available to me? Not everyone wants to eat a chicken breast 5 times per day, so hopefully the below guide will give some ideas on how best you can mix this up! Remember, with each suggestion are countless methods of cooking that protein, added to innumerable ways of flavouring uses herbs, spices and other taste enhancing tips!

Poultry – This doesn’t just mean chicken! Turkey is a great source of low fat protein and although duck, goose, pheasant etc have higher levels, the options are still there. Just remember, remove the skin, go organic where possible for leaner flesh and cook sensibly.

Fish – Should I even begin to start to list the huge list of fish you can use? Salmon and mackerel are great examples of oily fish full of omega 3/6 oils which are great for your health goals. Don’t concern yourself with their fat levels, many fats are good for you! Tuna is a fantastic, lean source of protein which can be readily available and we haven’t even begun to mention the whitefish options, cod, haddock, sea bass, monkfish… You are not limited! Same rules apply as poultry, go organic where possible!

Seafood – It’s not just fish that reside in the ocean waiting to be caught to help us with protein. Prawns are an obvious alternative, but the list goes on with squid and scallops being popular options.

Eggs – Aren’t eggs full of fat and cholesterol? If the rest of your nutrition follows the basic rules of our guideline, a couple of eggs a day are going to do more good than bad! Obviously, cook them sensibly but eggs are a great source of protein and sometimes a good omelette with imaginative additions can be a quick and easy protein meal. They give you great flexibility in main meals and transition meals alike.

Low fat organic dairy – Isn’t dairy bad? If you are lactose intolerant then yes, avoid, but like anything, it is about being sensible. Low fat dairy sources such as skimmed milk and low fat natural organic yogurts or low fat cottage cheese are relatively cheap sources of protein easy to slot into a busy lifestyle and great for helping build habits. Sometimes grabbing a skinny latte and a banana on the move can be a real handy transition meal!

Soya – Soya can be a great protein alternative to lactose intolerant get fitters and vegetarians and are one of the few complete protein options for vegetarian lovers of proteins. The bean is toxic in raw form but has sooo many health benefits for meat lovers and haters alike.

Beans/pulses/lentils – Although these options up the intake of carbohydrate and calorific intake required for an equivalent source of protein to meat sources, they are still a great option. And that is what this list is for, options!

Red meat – Always go for lean and extra lean options but red meat sources such as beef are a great way of getting good protein and amino acids into your system. Again, you are only limited to your imagination when it comes to cooking and flavouring them and adding them into your lifestyle.

The above list should give you a good start on where to look, but the search and experimenting never stops. I recently tried tempeh for the first time a few months back (fermented soya bean loaf) It was a strong taste but another option should it be required! A top tip is to start your own little “meal diary.” Every time you cook a new meal or use a protein source in a different way, whether that be by flavour or how you accompany that protein, write it down! And try and add at least one meal to that list every week! Keep working on finding the solutions that work for you and eventually you will build a diet and lifestyle which accounts for the most important part of any nutritional solution. You! And more importantly, you took responsibility to make those choices yourself.