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Protein keeps your body running through the day

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Dear Annie, I've heard you're supposed to eat protein with all of your meals.  Can you recommend some good breakfast ideas and snack ideas?  --K

Dear K, Yes, ideally you should be eating protein every time you eat and should aim for around 100 grams per day, depending on your eating and exercising habits and body type.  The best way to keep your body and hunger trigger satisfied is to eat 6 smaller meals a day rather than 3 big meals.  Of course, no matter how many times you eat if you are making healthy choices and watching your calorie intake, you will lose weight.  But eating 6 meals helps increase your energy levels, decrease hunger, and keep your metabolism strong because your body is working harder and more frequent to digest food. 

Speaking of digesting food, if you think of your body and diet from a biological point of view, it sometimes helps with food choices.  Poor choices like fast food and processed snacks are not only harmful to your weight loss goals, but they are also harmful to your actual body.  We forget what an amazing machine we own; if you owned a Lamborghini I'm guessing you would only put the highest quality oil and fuel in it.  So think of yourself as a temple and feed yourself what you need; real food like whole grains, animal (and or vegetarian) proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.  When you challenge your digestive system with hydrogenated oils and highly processed " food-like substances" as Michael Pollen calls them, you are putting yourself at risk for sickness, disease, and obesity; and of course poor nutrition.

You should also learn to recognize your hunger scale, and make it a point to keep it at about 3-6 on a scale of 10, throughout the day.  You should not be starving (1) or so full you feel sick (10), unless the latter is after Thanksgiving.  Joking.  If you keep a watch on your hunger scale, it will honestly help you make better food choices.  Just today at lunch I wanted more food, but I thought realistically I'm about a 5-6, so there is really no need to eat anymore.  And it helped knowing I was going to eat again in about 3 hours for my next snack.  On the contrary, if you are at a 1, you will definitely make poor choices based on the plan to stuff anything resembling food into your mouth as quickly as possible. 

This being said, here are some ideas for getting protein with your breakfast, the hardest meal for some to find protein sources due to not wanting to eat a savory meal first thing in the morning:       Eggs--either the whole thing, 3 egg whites, or Eggsland Best; Cottage cheese--plain, mixed with sunflower seeds, fruit, salsa; Natural peanut butter (has to be natural) on whole wheat toast; Plain yogurt (be wary of fat-free sugar additions) mixed with fruit or Greek yogurt ; Low fat sausage or turkey bacon; Protein shakes or bars; milk and soymilk.  If you're real hungry, make a sandwich of an egg, slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and turkey bacon or sausage. YUM!

Some ideas for protein snacks:  Hummus and carrots or peppers; Cottage cheese mixed with salsa served with triscuits and avacado; Yogurt mixed with fruit or granola (watch the sugar), as a dip with apples or other fruit; Natural peanut butter and banana half sandwich on whole wheat bread or with apples and celery; String cheese with apples and carrots; Turkey kielbasa with a couple cheese squares and a few grapes; Deli turkey roll ups with swiss or mozzarella cheese; Protein bars and shakes; Edamame; Nuts especially almonds and pistachios.

These are just some ideas; if you get creative you can think of a lot!  Try and include at least 2 different food groups in your snacks, and remember you can eat as many veggies as you want.  Don't try too hard to get the exact amount of protein in each snack..sometimes you may just want a glass of milk with your tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.  I'm telling you, eating healthy and 6 times a day will definately decrease your appetite and cravings; you won't crave as much if you keep your hunger in check and keep your body (gas tank) always above E.

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