Step 4: Portions and Protein

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Step 4 – Portions and Protein


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”style_1.png” align=”left”]Quick Summary:

Eat more (volume and nutrients), consume less (calories)

Balance your plate – there is no need to measure and weigh out specific portions at each meal as long as you focus on quality protein and nutrient dense fruits, vegetables and legumes

Include a starch (brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa etc.) in your post-workout meal

Add a little fat – if your meal only consists of a lean protein and vegetables, don’t be afraid to add olive oil to increase calories and satiety

Take a step back to determine what’s realistic for you – utilize pre-cooked, canned or frozen items (see video and below) to minimize prep time while still improving behaviors and working towards your goals

Click Here to Download Hot Sheet

1. Focus on nutrient dense foods with a low energy density at meals
– Nutrient dense foods are usually thought of as those that are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients (fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients). Fruits, vegetables, beans, lean meat and fish, eggs and low-fat dairy are all examples to include in meals and snacks
– Energy dense foods differ in that it refers to the volume of food that can be eaten for a certain amount of calories (i.e. if a food is considered to be energy dense, there are a higher amount of calories per volume compared to a food with lower energy density)
– Energy dense foods usually are higher in fat and refined sugars like pizza, fried food, ice cream and cookies. Even though fast food restaurants are now trying to include healthier options, most items are still going to be energy dense.
– Nutrient dense foods are usually less energy dense which allows you to eat larger portions for less calories
– Larger portion sizes can help maximize feelings of satiety, thereby helping minimize overeating and cravings

2. Fruits, vegetables and legumes should provide the main source of carbohydrate at meals
– Frozen vegetables (without added seasoning/sauce) and frozen fruit (without added sugar) are convenient and easy to prepare
– Canned vegetables and beans are also a great choice when you choose the ‘No Salt Added’ versions. A fairly recent concern with canned products to be aware of is BPA, or Bisphenol A. BPA is a chemical that has been used for years to make certain plastics, but is also used in the coating of cans. Luckily, most companies have stopped using BPA, but it is still important to look for. BPA has been shown to seep into the food and may be linked with certain health problems, especially for young children.
– Prepare in advance – investing in a rice cooker can help set you up for success by always having brown rice, quinoa and/or oatmeal ready at meal time

3. Foods containing more starch should be limited to post-workout meals (oatmeal, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa etc.)

4. Citrus fruit juice from lemons, limes, oranges and all types of vinegar can be used to add flavor to cooked vegetables, salads and protein without adding too many calories.

Protein needs be a component of every meal versus just aiming for a total daily number. For example, many people will eat little protein at breakfast, a small to moderate amount at lunch and then a very large portion at dinner. In order to maximally use the protein that we eat, consuming at least 25-30 grams at each meal is recommended, especially as we get older and when we are trying to lose weight.

Which foods contain protein?
– Animal sources – any type of meat or fish, eggs and dairy products
– Plant sources – beans, edamame and all other soy products, nuts, seeds

Are animal and plant sources of protein considered equal?
– Protein containing foods (animal or plant) are made up of essential (our body cannot make these and we MUST get them from food) and non-essential(our body can make these) amino acids.
– Animal sources of protein are considered to be more ‘complete,’ meaning that they contain all of the essential amino acids.
– Combining plant based sources, like beans and brown rice can provide a more ‘complete’ protein.
– The total amount of protein (grams) in a typical serving of animal versus plant protein is different, so please be aware of this if only vegetable sources are consumed (see below for some examples and note the difference between chicken and peanut butter)
— 4 oz chicken breast = 28-32 grams protein and ~ 170 calories
— 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 8 grams protein and 190 calories
— 1/2 cup kidney beans (canned, rinsed and drained) = ~7 grams protein and ~90 calories
— 8 oz. skim milk = 8 grams protein and 90 calories
— 8 oz. soy milk = 7 grams protein and 80 calories

Additional tips and reminders:
1. Choose pre-prepared, pre-grilled chicken breast or rotisserie chicken when short on time
– Choose pre-prepared chicken breast that does not have any heavy/sweet sauce and try to minimize sodium (salt) if possible
– Take skin off of rotisserie chicken before eating to cut back on calories and fat
– Individually wrapped frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts are another convenient alternative, especially if you are only cooking for 1 or 2

2. Choose lean meats when possible and trim visible fat

3. For ground beef or ground turkey, look for 90-95% lean

4. Choose low fat dairy products over full fat

5. Eggs are a great way to get in quality protein at breakfast – hard boil eggs at the beginning of the week to make breakfast/snacks more convenient

6. Greek yogurt usually contains about double the protein compared to regular yogurt

7. Smoothies with protein powder and fruit is a great option for breakfast on the go or a post workout snack

Stay positive, develop new routines around the steps you have learned so far and always try to avoid using ‘busy’ as an excuse.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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