If your diet is failing, you may want to take a look at the amount of protein you're getting. Women tend to limit their intake of protein foods because they view them as high in calories or fattening, according to a 2010 article in "Women's Health." In fact, high-protein foods are not only a healthy source of calories, but they may also help curb your appetite. A high-protein diet may be just the diet you need to help you get to and maintain a healthy weight. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
How Much Protein
The Institute of Medicine says a healthy and balanced diet should consist of 10 percent to 35 percent of calories from protein. On a high-protein diet, you should get 35 percent of calories from protein, 45 percent from carbs and 20 percent from fat.
On average, women need 1,600 calories to 2,400 calories a day. So you should aim for 140 grams to 210 grams of protein a day depending on your calorie needs.
Healthy Protein Foods
Some animal sources of protein, such as high-fat meat and full-fat dairy, contain saturated fat. Even if your goal is weight loss, you want to include healthy sources of protein to keep your heart healthy too. Good protein choices include lean meat such as top round and pork loin, white-meat poultry, seafood, beans, peas and soy.
Include fatty fish such as trout, tuna or salmon twice a week as one of your proteins. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the omega-3s in fatty fish may help reduce your risk.
A healthy high-protein breakfast might include hard-cooked eggs, two slices of whole-wheat toast, 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese and 1 cup of cubed cantaloupe. For lunch, try 5 ounces of grilled chicken on 3 cups of mixed greens with 1 tablespoon of low-fat salad dressing and served with 1 cup of nonfat yogurt and 24 large cherries.
A 5-ounce portion of broiled salmon with a medium baked potato and 2 cups of steamed broccoli makes a good dinner. A high-protein snack might include 2 ounces of turkey rolled in romaine lettuce leaves with five whole-grain crackers. This meal plan contains 1,630 calories and 142 grams of protein.
Benefits and Risks
In addition to boosting satiety, eating a high-protein diet may help you retain your muscle mass as you lose weight, and this helps keep your metabolism burning. A high-protein diet, however, may not be simple for everyone. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, for example, you may have a harder time meeting your high-protein goals, so you should consult a registered dietitian for assistance. Also, a high-protein diet is not recommended if you have kidney disease.
- Women's Health: Protein: Your Secret Weight Loss Weapon
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management and Satiety
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Tips to Help You Make Wise Choices From the Protein Foods Group
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Leading Causes of Death by Race/Ethnicity, All Females-United States, 2010
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- Nephron Information Center: Dietary Protein for the Person With Chronic Kidney Disease
- Photo Credit Chris Clinton/Photodisc/Getty Images
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