Weight Management : Power Eating with Protein Packed Meals and Snacks

Good health is a top priority for Shari Duncan. As a certified nutrition and wellness coach, as well as a body builder and power lifter, Duncan puts a great amount of emphasis on proper training. But hitting the gym for hours is only part of her regimen. Her diet is equally important. While she sticks to healthy foods that help her body fire on all cylinders, there is one area that she can't afford to scrimp on -- protein. That is because during exercise muscle tissue is broken down, only to be rebuilt bigger and stronger. Duncan says that protein is key to this re-growth.

"Protein consumption is essential for stimulating the growth of cells and helping to repair body tissue," she said. A person doesn't have to be a body builder or a power lifter to benefit from a high-protein diet. Duncan says this plan also plays an important role in any fat-loss program.

"To lose weight you must restrict the number of calories you consume. However, when you cut down on what you eat, the body starts using muscle protein as energy -- so it is important to get enough protein from your diet to cover these losses," she said. "Foods rich in protein help the body build lean muscle, and can be converted into glucose for energy. This method of energy is more time-consuming for the body. This means you will burn more calories digesting proteins; which explains why high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are so popular for those attempting to lose weight and build muscle." A lack of quality protein, Duncan says, will result in a person's body losing muscle tissue and tone, a reduction in the function of the immune system, a slower recovery rate from exercise and a lack of energy.

"If you fail to get enough protein on a daily basis, you'll quickly lose strength and slow down your metabolic rate," she said. Proteins can be found in a variety of foods. Allison Query, a registered dietician with the Brunswick hospital of Southeast Georgia Health System, says that small, frequent protein-rich meals can help dieters stay full as well as promote muscle growth. "You can start with breakfast and eat eggs or add milk to oatmeal or a high-protein cereal. Throughout the day, you can snack on yogurt, string cheese or nuts," she said. "Also, you can eat lean meats, like fish, chicken and turkey. Always cut off the visible fat from any meat."

As for how much protein a person needs, that depends on gender and ideal weight. "For a high-protein diet, you should shoot for 120 grams per day, 25 to 30 percent of calories should come from protein," she said. Most people do not have difficulty attaining that For persons who have trouble with adequate protein consumption, supplements are available. Kel Quarterman, owner of Gold Coast Nutrition in Brunswick, says there are a multitude of ways to add protein to a diet. Protein supplements come in powder form and can be added to milk or water. "There are many different types of protein. A lot of vegetarians use soy-type of protein," he said. "There is also rice, pea, chai, and a new one is hemp." For body builders and other exercise enthusiasts, a pure whey isolate is usually the go-to protein powder. "It's definitely the purest source of protein. It's definitely the most popular," Quarterman said. "Years ago, protein powders didn't taste very good, but nowadays, though, it tastes awesome. There are fruit flavors, chocolate vanilla, and designer flavors, like pina colada," he said.

©2012 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.) Visit The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.) at www.thebrunswicknews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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