Protein is an essential component of the diet and helps your body repair muscle, grow tissue and control metabolism. Protein is what makes up your ligaments, tendons, muscles, hair, nails, skin, teeth, tissue, organs, and bones.
Since most of the body's proteins are continually broken down, the body needs to manufacture thousands of proteins every day to replace them. The more active you are the faster your proteins break down, and more protein you need to replenish them.
Individuals typically need 1 gram of protein daily for each pound of their body weight. To calculate this, take your body weight and times it by 0.36-0.6 grams and that will equal to how many grams you need per day. Use the higher amount if you are very physical.
Protein cannot be stored for later use, like fat or carbohydrates can, so the body needs daily replenishments.
Here are some great options for protein:
1. Egg Whites: One egg white has only 15 calories, zero fat and cholesterol and contains 4 grams of protein. Throw a few in a pan with veggies of your choice and you have a great snack. I make extra to bring in my cooler for later on in the day. I like putting salsa or hot sauce on top!
2. Cottage Cheese: Even though I don't like eating this myself (I just don't like it) it is a great protein source. 1/2 cup of the non fat cottage cheese has 80 calories and 15 grams of protein. Mix it with fruit, that makes it tasty.
3. Tuna: Great protein source with about 25 grams of protein per can. Lately I have been putting 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar on mine. Tastes great!
4. Beef Jerky: My husband likes this one. On average one ounce contains about 70 calories and 11 grams of protein. The brands that are sold in convenience stores have a lot of sodium so look for healthier versions in health food stores.
5. Protein Bars: I rather eat whole foods myself, but in a pinch this is a great option and I think it is better to eat this than to starve.
6. Protein Shakes: Again, the eating whole foods thing. But protein shakes are good, usually containing extra amino acids and glutamine and you can blend it up with whatever you desire. My fave is chocolate protein with 1/2 cup egg whites, 1/2 cup skim milk and 1 tbsp natural peanut butter.
7. Peanut Butter: The natural stuff, not skippy or any of the sugary kind in the store. I really like the one Kraft makes. Look for the kind that is all natural with no added sugar or oils. 1 tbsp contains 4 grams of protein.
8. Almonds: Grab a handfull. 1/3 of a cup usually contains about 9 grams of protein. Eat an apple with it and you have a great and fast snack. Just don't go overboard on the almonds or peanut butter, even though it is good fat, it is still fat.
9. Hard Boiled Egg: Great snack to go. Boil the whole carton and you have a fast snack to grab and go for the whole week when you are in a hurry. Even for breakfast, grab an egg and a piece of fruit and run out the door(just make sure you don't eat the shell in your rush to get to work). One egg contains 80 calories, 6 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein.
10. Oatmeal: Yes, I know it is a carb, but one packet of instant plain oatmeal has about 5 grams of protein as well. Add some cinnamon and a little vanilla or chocolate protein powder on top and you have a fast breakfast!
Hope this gives you all some great ideas!