Erika Brown, MS, RDN
Erika hails from the beautiful state of Texas (but now lives in CO) where she received her Bachelor's and Master's degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Sam Houston State University. She is passionate about preventing chronic diseases and helping people achieve their overall wellness goals. She works to integrate healthy lifestyle changes that suit each individual's needs and desires.
When thinking of healthy food choices or the path to weight loss, many people immediately think of protein. Protein is one (1) of three (3) macronutrients that our body needs to survive and is an important part of a healthy diet.
Proteins are made up of chemical 'building blocks' called amino acids. Your body uses amino acids to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. Many may ask…are all proteins the same? The answer is NO!
When you eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids which are then used to help your body with various processes such as building muscle and regulating immune function. There are essential and nonessential amino acids. Nonessential means that our bodies produce an amino acid, even if we do not get it from the food we eat. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. As a result, they must come from food. These include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins like meat, eggs and poultry, as well as plant-based sources such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina. Other foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and veggies are considered incomplete proteins because they are missing one or more of the essential amino acids. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to decrease your animal protein consumption, it is important to eat a variety of plant proteins throughout the day to obtain all 9 essential amino acids.
Protein needs depend on a variety of factors including weight, height, activity level, and nutrition goals. Most Americans eat more protein than we necessarily need. The general guidelines for the amount of protein most healthy people need are:
Below is a list of foods, serving sizes, and their protein amounts. Happy eating!
Below is a sample list of foods, serving sizes, and their protein amounts. Happy eating!
The Sodexo Wellness and Nutrition team of registered dietitians will be posting regular health tips to keep you and your families healthy during these trying times. We will focus on the areas that the CDC and other health experts are recognizing as special areas of importance to stay well. We encourage you to share these tips on nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep, food safety and overall well being with your loved ones. Remember, a strong body has a much better chance of fighting off this microscopic enemy.