Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Protein to Keep You Full

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My last post was about how much protein our bodies actually need. I want to follow that information up with some very interesting research and thoughts around what the optimal level of protein is, which may be different than what our body "needs."

Benefits of protein
Appetite regulation: Protein helps to keep you full because it takes longer to digest than carbs. It may also release certain hormones that contribute to feelings of satiety (fullness).
Stabilize blood sugar: Eating more protein can help prevent how quickly your blood sugar goes up. You may also lower your triglycerides if you reduce simple carbs and replace it with protein.
Important nutrients: Protein rich foods contain amino acids which are the building blocks of our muscle and cells. Many high protein foods also have nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium, and various B-vitamins.

There are really two issues with protein that I want to talk about. The total amount of protein you eat, but also the distribution of this protein throughout the day.

The average person eats 65% of their protein for the day after 6 PM. That basically means that their evening meal is heavy on protein, but they are not getting much protein earlier in the day. In addition, most people get less than 10 grams of protein at breakfast. No wonder we are all so hungry in the middle of the morning!

I have started to add more protein to my breakfast and it has made an amazing impact on how I feel throughout the day. I am not ravenously hungry. I still have my snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon to keep me going, but I feel much better overall. Another benefit: sweet cravings have diminished quite a bit.

Here is what I recommend:
  • Try to get about 30 grams of protein minimum at every meal. You can have more depending on your personal protein needs (see previous blog and information below).
  • Have snacks containing protein, too. Ideas: cottage cheese, string cheese, glass of milk, yogurt, Greek yogurt, handful of nuts, beef jerky (watch sodium), deli meat by itself or on half sandwich, cup of black bean soup, baked garbanzo beans, smoothie with protein powder, protein bars, vegetarian meat substitutes (soy), eggs.

  • The minimum amount of protein to eat is 0.8 g per kg body weight (or 0.36 grams per pound body weight) as mentioned in my previous blog.
  • To protect your muscle, eat 1.2 g per kg body weight (0.55 grams per pound).
  • To get optimal satiety (or fullness), consider eating 1.5 g per kg body weight (or 0.7 g per pound body weight).
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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