Know Your Nutrients

You know all about eating the rainbow and giving five fruits and veggies a day, but is your family eating enough protein? When you are on the go, it's easy to lose track … find out if your family is on target.

Grilled Chicken and beans

 

As a mother, eating well is important not just for yourself but for your kids as well. It's your job to teach your kids to eat right and get all the nutrients they need to have a healthy mind and body.

 

Complex carbs, fruits, veggies, protein … these are the essentials of a healthy diet. Protein, specifically, is necessary to feed your muscles and keep your body healthy. But how much protein do your family members need to get?

 

Getting enough?

If you really want to know if your family is getting enough protein, start by figuring out how many grams each person needs. It varies based on body weight.

 

Jacque Miller, a behavioral nutritionist from Arizona, says to use this formula: take your body weight and multiply it by 0.40. Whatever number it comes out to is how many grams you need.

 

More generally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that teen boys and active men should have about three servings of proteins a day (about seven ounces total), while older children, teen girls, active women and most men should have two servings a day (about six ounces total). Toddlers and most women need two servings as well, for about five ounces of protein each day.

 

What's so great about protein?

Protein is an important thing to the human body. Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan or meat-eater, you need to get your protein daily. "The important thing about eating proteins is the amino acids that we get from it. The protein is really used to build muscles in your body and tissues," says Miller.

 

So, what happens if you aren't getting enough protein? That's bad news, says Miller. A protein deficiency can lead to a lack of focus, fatigue, weight gain, disturbed sleep patterns and more. For kids in school, that can have negative impacts on their studies. For adults, it could impact your work.

 

Sources of protein

The best sources of protein are those that come in lean forms, such a white meat chicken, low-fat dairy products, and nuts and beans. Red meat, fish, eggs and seeds are also good forms of protein.

 

Miller says that when it comes to proteins, it's important to avoid added fats from cooking and also to keep the unhealthy bits like skin on a chicken.

 

"Make sure you are getting the extra lean (ground beef)," advises Miller, who suggests opting for 90 percent lean and above. Can't afford it? She says there is a way to make fattier ground beef healthier. "If you can't buy the really leanest form of hamburger, rinse (browned beef) in colander with hot water," she says. That will remove excess fat before you cook it further.

 

But meat isn't the only way to go. Add beans to a salad or build your dinner around them. Either way, you will be helping your family get the protein they need.

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