Are you eating enough protein?

Protein is the most important macronutrient, and it is made up of amino acids, the building blocks for cell and tissues. The structure of protein is complex and it takes some time to digest. But that’s good news because slow digestion delays hunger. Protein also plays an important role in our mood changes.

But do you really know how much you need a day?

Most people consume too much protein, whether as animal protein or supplements, and this can cause higher levels of acidosis which can be stressful for your kidneys and liver.

So how much is enough?

The recommended amount for an active adult is 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight. For example if you weigh 120 pounds, you need 48 to 72 grams of protein, or is you weigh 180 pounds you need 72 to 108 grams of protein. You don’t need much.

Protein reduces your cravings by 60 percent and boosts your metabolism to burn an extra 80 to 100 calories a day. If your goal is weight loss then eating protein is the most effective and easy way to do so. And more good news, protein is effective against belly fat.

What are the best protein sources?

You can get 7 grams of protein from 1oz cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry; 1/2 cup cooked dry beans, peas, or lentils; or 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds (except for pumpkin seeds, with 18 grams).

1 ounce cheese or 6oz yogurt will give you 8 grams of protein.

But did you know that veggies have protein too? There’s around 2 grams of protein in 1/2 cup veggies.

Here’s a few sample protein breakfast recipes:

(1) Eggs are healthy and high in nutrients. One whole egg has 6 grams of protein. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fat and eye protecting antioxidants, and they’re also awesome for improving your mood too. You may like to try 3 whole eggs with one large tomato and some basil. A great way to start your day with a lots of energy!

Maybe you’re thinking about the cholesterol in eggs? Cholesterol is actually so import for brain function, and it helps us make things like hormones (progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, testosterone) and even vitamin D. So don’t worry about cholesterol, but do watch that you don’t over-consume carbohydrates.

(2) Quinoa seeds — one of the most popular superfoods — are high in fiber, protein and antioxidants. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein, and it’s so easy to cook too. You can try quinoa with 1/4 cup of raisin and 1/2 oz almond with almond milk. This will keep you full for a long time!

(3) Ezekiel bread organic, and made of sprouts, whole grains and legumes, barley, spelt, wheat, soybeans and lentils. They are very high in protein, fiber too.1 slice of Ezekiel bread has 4 grams protein. How about trying 2 whole eggs with almond milk, and mix in some wet Ezekiel bread the cook it in a pan.

Enjoy your healthy protein breakfast!

Try to add some protein to every meal. And remember we are what we eat — and what our body stores — so make sure your food choices are healthy and right for you.

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii and is a personal health, fitness and lifestyle coach. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com, Ayda@DietDocHawaii.com and (808) 276-6892

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