You probably know that protein fills you up and keeps you satisfied longer. But beyond staving off hunger pangs, why is protein important?
What is protein & why do you need it?
Protein—which is composed of amino acids—plays a major role in your body. It’s a powerful nutrient that gives you energy and helps build, maintain and repair body tissues. The body does not store amino acids like it does carbohydrates and fats, so it needs a daily supply. The protein in the foods you eat is digested into amino acids that can be used to replace the proteins in your body.
How much do you need?
Current guidelines from the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine suggest a range between 10% and 35% of your daily calories. That translates to a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of about 46g for women and 56g for men. Many people try to eat more than that, often to help feel full or repair muscle tissue, but if you eat a balanced diet with a mix of food sources, you are likely getting enough protein.
Where can you get it?
Complete proteins, which provide all the essential amino acids, come from animal sources (think eggs, milk, meat, poultry and fish) and soy (like tofu and tempeh). Most plant proteins, such as legumes and nuts, are incomplete proteins but can be combined—rice and beans, anyone?—to hit the mark.
Many of our EatingWell frozen entrées contain lean animal proteins: chicken, beef and pork raised without antibiotics and dairy from cows never given growth hormones.* You’ll also find plant proteins like garbanzo beans, wild rice, spinach and broccoli in our meals. Even our vegetarian Vermont Cheddar Mac & Cheese entrée packs 17g of protein!
We may be biased, but we think you should also try these delicious low-calorie, high-protein recipes and snack ideas from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell magazine. (Our fave: Breakfast Tacos!)
* No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST treated and non rBST treated cows.