Week 2 Nutrition Habit: Eating Protein and Whole Foods
This week we will be focusing on a more tangible nutrition strategy; specifically, eating the right amount of protein for you. Protein is responsible for many processes that take place within our bodies. When broken down into their smaller parts known as amino acids, those protein bodies are used to build all our tissues, to make hormones, to bolster our immune system and metabolism.
One serving of protein is the equivalent to the size of your palm. In general, men should aim for 2 palm size servings of protein at each meal, while women should aim for 1 palm sized serving of protein at each meal. Just remember that 80% full and eating slowly still applies here. If you feel you’ve reached 80% full before you’ve finished eating your meal, you should stop at that time. Nota bene: each person has their own individual needs, so your portions may need to be adjusted.
Refer to this Portion Control Guide to better understand how to measure a palm sized serving of protein. Treat this habit as an experiment. While you will also see suggested portions for other food groups in these PDFs, focus on getting adequate amounts of protein this week only. The others will come later. Keep your attention on adding protein to your meals, along with continuing last week’s habits, and don’t worry about eliminating anything or trying to do any more than this. Go slow, keep making small changes.
One serving of protein is the equivalent to the size of your palm.
During this new week don’t lose track of last week! We will want to maintain our focus on eating only until 80% full during this new week and this is new week is not an invitation to start only eating protein. If you are an oatmeal-in-the-morning person then you’ll need to make a conscious effort to get some protein in along with your oats. You don’t need to bust out the scales or measuring cups for this week, you just need to know what your hand looks like!
How Does the Week 2 Challenge Work?
Newbies: Men: You get a point if you eat a minimum of 4 palm size servings of protein each day. Women: You get a point if you eat a minimum of 2 palm size servings of protein each day.
Ninjas: Ninjas you have a tough assignment, do what the newbies are doing AND… Your goal is to eat ONLY whole foods for this week. What that means is that we are trying to stay away from anything that is pre-processed. Whole foods include: veggies, fruits, meats, poultry, fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, whole intact grains, and minimally processed dairy such as plain yogurt. Whole foods are easily recognizable, they don’t come in unnecessary packaging, they don’t come with an ingredient label, and they typically have a short expiration date. You know that food has been processed if it is difficult to identify the foods original form, it’s wrapped in a lot of packaging with a long list of ingredients, and if it has a long shelf life.
Strategies for Making it Happen:
- Know your protein sources.
Here is a list of recommended sources of protein:
- Lean meat – beef, pork, wild game
- Poultry – chicken, turkey
- Fish and seafood – shrimp, salmon
- Dairy products – eggs and egg whites, cottage cheese, plain yogurt
- Protein powder supplements – whey or veggie based
- Cooked lentils and beans
- Tofu and tempeh
- Eat protein with each meal today.
Pick one of the protein sources listed above and add it to your meal. Keep it simple by using the same source multiple times or experiment with changing it up at each meal. You might try adding protein powder to your usual smoothie, including beans with your usual egg & veggie breakfast, or topping a salad with your choice of meat, ground or chopped.
How to build a protein packed meal:
- Choose one source of protein such as chicken, tofu, beef, eggs or beans.
- Grab some veggies in the form of stir fry, steamed, raw, chopped salad, etc.
- Grab or make a little sauce such as salsa, hummus, salad dressing, or curry.
- Pile it all up on your plate or bowl or, wrap it all up in lettuce or a tortilla or, scramble it all up in one pan before serving.
If you’re reading this and you’re in Boise, Idaho or the surrounding Ada County please feel free to follow along! If you’d like more information please let us know.