Tag: nutritional advice

Protein 101

Over the last ten years, high-protein diets have become a prominent trend in the health and fitness world. People are eating less carbs and more protein to aid with both weight loss and body building. But before you throw the bread out the door, it’s important to understand what protein is and how much you actually need.

What is protein?

Proteins are nutrients made up of small building blocks called amino acids. These amino acids are broken down and then made into new proteins your body needs to grow, repair, and function.

Our bodies are able to produce some of these amino acids, but there are nine, called essential amino acids, that we must obtain from the food we eat.

While protein comes from a variety of sources, it’s important to understand that not all proteins are the same. In general, there are two kinds:

  • Compete proteins- Found in animal sources like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, these proteins provide your body with all the essential amino acids
  • Incomplete proteins- Found in plant sources like nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains, these proteins lack one or more essential amino acids.

If you’re a vegetarian, or eat a more plant-based diet, don’t fret! Combining complementary plant-based proteins, like rice and beans, can provide your body with the same benefits as a complete protein.

How much protein do I need?

Because our body does not store protein for future use like it does with carbohydrates and fat, constant protein intake is important. But how much is enough?

In the United States, the recommended daily allowance of protein is .36 grams per pound of body weight. On average, this is:

  • 46 grams per day on average for women
  • 56 grams per day on average for men

However, while this is a recommendation for an average adult, exactly how much protein you need depends on a variety of factors, including age, sex, health and physical activity. To calculate a more precise amount, use this calculator from the USDA.

Overall, it’s important to remember that while consuming protein is important to keep your body functioning, too much protein can be detrimental to your health. For a healthy diet and lifestyle, make sure to eat a balanced combination of proteins, carbs, and fats.



Grocery Shopping Tour with Local Nutritional Experts!

When I first moved to the States, one of my biggest concerns at a grocery store was to make a wise decision. Aisle after aisle, every brand boasted to be the freshest, tastiest, or best choice. Selecting among those items was not easy and often made me feel overwhelmed. I thought it would be great if a grocery store has grocery shopping tour with health professionals.

Then, an instance drew my immediate attentions. Local nutritional experts in Indiana offered tips on healthy food selections to customers during a grocery tour at Meijer (see Jconline’s post). “We have numerous choices in this country,” said Michelle McQueen, a clinical dietician with Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital. “It can be difficult to look at food labels and try to manage calories. We just wanted to do something that was very real and practical.”

Eating healthy starts at home, but before that, a trip to the grocery store is necessary. To support the healthy ideas, local health experts focus on small and healthy steps while shopping and preparing meals at home.

One of the most difficult things is to figure out what a balanced diet looks like on a dinner plate, said Veronica Jalomo, a health coordinator of the Minority Health Coalition of Tippecanoe County. She currently leads a program called ‘Salsa, Sabor y Salud’, which teaches families to make traditional Latino dishes healthier and stay active while maintaining their culture. Instead of changing their culture and lifestyle, the program focused on small realistic modifications.

When headed into the grocery store, McQueen, who led an IU grocery Health Arnett grocery tour, provided a piece of advice. “Shop the perimeter first for the basics and then fill in the kinks from the center.” The perimeter is where fresh produce (the more colorful the better), meats and dairy usually are, while the middle has more processed foods, McQueen said. Another healthy tip is to replace salt with herbs and spices. As Latino dishes are high in sodium, she recommends to replace the salt and to use less sodium.

The above example illustrates something real and practical to immigrant communities. I think the continuous small advices can make a change at the end.

Image source: http://www.jconline.com/