Protein and Exercise: Important Pieces to a Healthy Lifestyle

By James Montgomery – soon to be Dietitian – Nutrition Graduate 2012

We hear about fats and carbohydrates in the news almost every day, but did you know protein is an equally important part of a balanced diet? Including a protein source at each meal or snack is a good idea to help keep you satisfied longer. Often, we intentionally or unintentionally eat a diet that is very high in carbohydrates. Eating a high carbohydrate diet that is low in protein, can make us feel fatigued and tired after eating.  Since simple carbohydrates break down easily in your system, you may feel unsatisfied or hungry again shortly after eating. This can lead to more snacking. If you choose to snack on more high carbohydrate foods you can start the whole cycle over again. This endless cycle of snacking can add on extra calories and ultimately, extra weight. There is a solution to the endless snacking cycle though! Just by adding protein to a meal or snack, we can feel more satisfied. Increased satisfaction can lead to extending the amount of time before feeling hungry again. This means less snacking, less calories and can actually lead to weight loss. Protein can be found in nuts, seeds, beans, soy, meat, fish, poultry dairy and eggs.

Some ideas for adding more protein include:

  • Having an egg or two with your usual breakfast meal or replacing your butter, margarine or jam spread with nut butter such as peanut, almond or sunflower.
  • Some helpful protein packed lunch ideas include adding grilled chicken or tuna fish to your salad or adding a glass of low fat milk as your beverage.
  • Eating a sandwich made with egg salad or chicken salad, and/or substituting your regular yogurt with a more satisfying and higher protein Greek yogurt.
  • When eating a pasta dinner, be sure to include a lean meat such as turkey meatballs, lean ground beef or a some shrimp to your dish.

Physical activity is another important component to achieving our weight loss goals. By exercising at a medium to high intensity for at least thirty minutes a day, you can burn off a few hundred calories. Remember to keep your exercise routine simple and entertaining so you are more likely to stick with it.  Another great idea to stay active is remembering the acronym, NEAT, (Non exercise activity thermogenesis) which simply means performing daily activities to burn off extra calories.  Examples of this include parking at the back of the parking lot instead of the front to get extra walking in, taking the steps instead of the elevator or even walking to an office bathroom that is further away.  By performing these little tricks, studies have found that individuals can burn as many as 500 extra calories a day. If you burn an extra 500 calories each day you can lose up to a pound a week!

Overall, by choosing healthy food options and becoming physically active we can achieve our goals whatever they might be and live healthier, more productive lives!

How do add extra protein and activity to your day?



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Hi! I'm Heather: a body positivity, Health at Every Size dietitian. When I'm not blogging about wellness, I'm spending time with my fabulous family. Sometimes, they wear me out, so then it's time to bake, read, knit, tie myself into a yoga pose, or continue to work my first novel... stay tuned.