Skip to content

Power Foods that Perform

By Cheryl Forberg

One of the unintended and sensible consequences of the carbphobic madness is that we’ve finally learned the significance of protein -- lean protein -- in a balanced diet.
Image of Edamame
We love reading diet books, almost as much as we love eating. You’d never know it, with the explosive rise of obesity in this country. But high fiber, low fat, sugar-busting, carb blasting diets abound. Though they’re not always supported by solid science, we do seem to learn valuable lessons from each passing diet craze.

One of the unintended and sensible consequences of the carbphobic madness is that we’ve finally learned the significance of protein -- lean protein -- in a balanced diet. Not only is it a valuable source of energy, but protein is required in every cell of our body. We need it for growth, for repair and for immune function. We also need it for strong muscles.

Experts are discovering that our current recommended amounts (is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for adults) may be sufficient to prevent deficiencies, but not enough for optimal health. Whether or not your goal is weight loss, if you’re trying to build or maintain muscle (and burn fat), it’s crucial that your protein needs are met. Individual recommendations vary per person, depending on weight and body composition. If you have any health conditions, such as kidney disease, that may affect your protein requirements, consult with your medical provider to determine your protein needs.

Try to include protein with each meal and each snack so your body can benefit all day long.

Lean protein:
Helps build/maintain muscle

Helps promote satiety or fullness thus curbing appetite

When combined with carbohydrate (such as a piece of fruit) helps to slow the release of blood sugar thus minimizing unhealthy “spikes” and sustaining our energy for longer periods

There are plenty of choices from which to choose in three different protein groups.

Animal protein
Seafood – such as wild fish and seafood that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fish include salmon, sardines (water-packed), herring, mackerel, trout, and tuna.

Meat Lean cuts, such as pork tenderloin, lean cuts of beef including round, chuck, sirloin or tenderloin. USDA Choice or USDA Select grades of beef usually have lower fat content. Avoid meat that is heavily marbled and remove any visible fat. Try to find ground meat that is at least 95% lean.

Poultry - Leanest poultry is the skinless white meat from the breast of chicken or turkey. Egg whites are an excellent source of protein and are fat free

Top choices include skim (fat-free) milk, low-fat (1%) milk, buttermilk, plain fat free (or low fat) yogurt, fat free (or low fat) yogurt with fruit (no sugar added), fat free or low fat Greek-style yogurt, fat free (or low fat) cottage cheese, fat free or low fat ricotta cheese. In addition to lean protein, dairy foods are also a robust source of calcium. Aim for three servings a day.

Excellent sources of vegetable protein include beans, legumes and a variety of traditional soy foods. Many of these are also loaded with fiber.

Here is a scrumptious power-packed snack to infuse your day with performance-boosting protein.

Gingery Roast Edamame
This simply snack is ready in minutes. Try different oils or seasonings to come up with your own new favorites.
Image of gingery roast edamame
1 package Melissa’s Shelled Edamame (10 ounces or about 1¾ cups)
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Smoked Salt
¾ teaspoon Ground Ginger

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place edamame on a half sheet pan. Pat dry with paper towel. Drizzle oil over edamame and sprinkle with seasonings. Toss well with your fingers to evenly distribute the oil. Be sure the edamame are spread out evenly in a single layer.

Bake for 15 minutes, shaking pan or stirring twice. Serve warm or at room temperature

Nutritional information (per serving):
Calories 120
Fat calories 45
Total fat 5 grams
Sat fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 620 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9 g
Fiber 4 g Sugars 1 g
Protein 8 g
Vitamin A IUs 8%
Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4%
Iron 8%
Previous article The Ultimate Comfort Food: Soup

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields