Nutrition is a complicated issue, and confusing – even conflicting – information from experts (and would-be experts) doesn't make it any easier. Fortunately, we have a real expert, Nutrition Coach Michelle Cartmel, to help us understand our nutritional needs a little better. This month, she's taking on protein.

Nutrition Coach Michelle CartmelOne of the questions that I am most frequently asked by my clients is around protein, particularly: “how much do I need?”

Over the past several years, the word "protein" has become SUCH a common part of our dietary vernacular, I might even say it's a borderline obsession for some. Blame Atkins, blame the keto craze, blame it on food marketers and what they put on their labels.

All of these messages about protein that we see on social media, on TV, hear from health experts on our favorite morning show – they fuel our curiosity for getting healthy but also create a lot of confusion. There is A LOT of information out there about and it's difficult to decipher.

Confusion around protein is what led me to write this article, because I want you to know that it doesn't have to be confusing. In fact, it's quite easy to consume adequate protein every day. To help you, below I've created three easy protein pointers to live by:

Women and protein

Women need approximately 46 grams of protein each day.

This sounds like a big number, but trust me, it's easy to get there, even if you're a vegetarian. Below is a breakdown of a few of our most common protein go-to's with respective gram content. 

  • One serving of chicken (approximately 6-8 oz) = 53 grams
  • One serving of tuna (1 cup) 39 grams 
  • One serving of lean beef (3 oz) = 22 grams
  • One cup of cooked beans = 15 grams
  • One egg = 7 grams 

Where can you get protein?

Protein comes from so many sources like poultry, fish, pork and beef, eggs, nuts, oats, Greek yogurt, tofu, and milk/nut milks, but did you know that some vegetables pack a surprising punch of protein?

  • One cup of edamame = 18 grams
  • One cup of green peas = 8.5 grams
  • One medium size potato with skin = 5 grams
  • One cup of broccoli = 3 grams
  • One quarter block of extra firm tofu = 9 grams

Protein and your bones

We need protein (and calcium) to support bone health as we age. Women generally understand the importance of a diet rich in calcium to support bone health, but did you know that eating adequate protein is also important?

Studies have shown that people who eat an adequate amount of protein each day generally have good bone health, but those who do not can have compromised bone health, as it was proven that the body absorbs more calcium when the diet is adequate in protein

The bottom line: do your best to get your proteins from natural sources like the ones listed above.

Be cognizant not to overdo red meat and processed meats as they may lead to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. If you are tempted to purchase a food product because its label boasts high amounts of protein (and you've fallen short that day), I recommend that you read the entire label to see what other items might be hidden inside. Oftentimes products like bars and yogurt may be marketed to us as "healthy" because of their protein composition, but dangerous amounts of sugars might end up sabotaging our good work. 

Still have questions? I'd love to hear from you! Drop me a line: michelle.cartmel@gmail.com

Cheers to your health, 

Michelle

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Shannon Perry

Shannon is a celebrated author and global educator. Whether she’s interviewing a physician or producing a podcast, her appetite for research, facts, and truth culminates in credible health education and programming that women can rely on. An avid runner, cyclist, and climber, Shannon knows a thing or two about thriving in midlife and lives in Seattle with her cat, dog and boyfriend.

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