Eating the right proteins will help you feel full and will bolster your overall health.
Your portion size for protein will be about the size of a deck of cards (after cooking), and since lean proteins are the best macronutrient to help you feel full, this seemingly small portion will go a long way. Choosing the right protein is important, as many common forms of protein are high in unhealthy saturated fat. Stick to healthy protein choices like very lean meats, eggs, fish, seafood, white-meat poultry, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk and cheeses, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Note: The charts below don’t list glycemic levels for meat, fish, or poultry because the glycemic content for these foods is negligible. However, the charts do include total fat and saturated fat levels for meats. To guide your choices for optimal health, just choose any fish from the charts or any meats that fall in the green area.
Fish and Seafood
When you eat fish, you’re not only choosing a great protein source—you’re also significantly reducing your risk of disease. Eating fish one to three times a week is an important Habit of Health and can have a profound impact on your well-being over time. In fact, one serving of fish per week may reduce your risk of fatal heart attack by 40 percent (pregnant women and young children, however, should limit their intake of fish to once a week due to the potential for high mercury content in some fish).
It’s an important Habit of Health to lower your consumption of meat and eat more fish, white-meat poultry (skinless), legumes such as beans, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. But if you’re like me and once in a while need that savory taste of meat, just minimize the amount of saturated fat so you can enjoy this great protein source and still stay healthy.
You should also incorporate more wild meat into your diet. It contains much less saturated fat than farm-raised meat because our cattle are fed on high-glycemic foods. Many of these wild meats, like elk and venison, are available in grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market. Avoid processed lunch meats, hot dogs, and hamburgers as well as fatty meats charred on the “barbie.” This forms extremely dangerous substances called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which can make these foods up to 200 times more immunoreactive, attacking your body with a vengeance.
Chicken, turkey, and other forms of poultry are healthier choices than red meat, but be careful! The health value and calorie content of poultry can vary significantly depending on the type of bird, which part you eat, and how it’s prepared and cooked. As a general rule, avoid eating the dark meat (legs and thighs), and always remove the skin before eating—though it is a good idea to keep the skin on while you bake, grill, or broil your poultry to help lock in flavor and maintain moistness without adding significantly to the fat content of the finished dish.
As far as eating eggs, which are an incredible source of protein that deliver all of the amino acids as well as vitamins D and E, your daily intake of cholesterol should not exceed 200 milligrams, the amount in one small egg. There’s no limit to the amount of egg whites you can eat though, as long as they fit on the 25 percent of your plate devoted to protein.
That’s a lot of material to take in one day, and it’s okay if you need to refer back to this email or to the Habits of Health book to remind yourself of the particulars. I do not expect you to memorize everything overnight. Take advantage of your resources by using them to remind yourself of the path that you should be on.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue discussing healthy sources of proteins by exploring low-glycemic legume, dairy, and nut options.
Keep up the great work!