There seems to be a common pattern…
1. You do not eat enough protein during the day
2. By mid afternoon or evening, you start having sugar cravings
3. By dinner, you overeat on anything you can get your hands on and dessert, extra wine and/or extra starch seem to be on the plate.
4. You think you are a sugar addict and beat yourself up for eating too much
Why does this keep happening? Remember, it is all about survival – the body will always try to get out of the stressed state. If you are not providing your body with what it needs during the day, the body will overdo it on sugar by end of day since glucose, the simplest form of sugar is the ultimate survival cure for the short term. You are not a sugar addict or destined for failure – you just need to eat a balanced diet!
So many of us do not eat enough protein in general, and we particularly do not spread out eating protein throughout the day. Remember, protein is not just for getting buff. Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) make up our hormones, enzymes and play a crucial role in our metabolism and daily body functions. You do not need to eat a steak everyday – you do not need to eat animal protein for that matter – but I do recommend you work on eating a serving of protein every 3-4 hours to keep you satiated throughout the day.
What are sources of protein?
All animal proteins are complete proteins, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids. Remember, animal proteins contain varying levels of fat.
Dairy—yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, cheese, whey (also a carbohydrate and fat)
Plant Based Proteins
Notice that all plant based proteins are also a starch or fat. Also, if you are vegan you have to mix and match your proteins to get a good variety of amino acids.
Nuts and seeds (also are a fat)
Legumes—beans and lentils (also a starch)
Soy—milk, tofu, edamame, isolated soy protein (also a starch and fat)
Quinoa (also a starch)
Tempeh (also a starch and fat)
Other whole, unprocessed starches such as rice, breads and grains also contain varying levels of plant-based protein
This is where things get tricky since everyone has different needs and as you can see, proteins are often also a carbohydrate or fat. So, depending on your personal caloric and metabolic needs and the protein you choose to eat the serving size can vary.
Quick rule of thumb to start for serving sizes:
3-4 ounces of animal protein
½-1 cup of cooked grain/legume
¼ cup or 2 Tablespoons of nuts/seeds
Set yourself up for success! Feel good everyday and have confidence that you are eating in a way that will help you reach your goals. Doesn’t that sound like fun??