How to Get More Protein in Your Diet 

Protein is an essential macronutrient made up of amino acids that helps to build bones, muscles, cartilage and skin but it is also responsible for so much more. Protein plays a role in almost every process of a cell, from metabolic reactions, fighting infection, providing us with energy, repairing cells, etc.

There are 20 total amino acids with 9 of them considered essential since our body does not create them on their own; therefore we need to consume them daily. The amount of protein an individual needs is based on many factors and it is best to consult with your healthcare team before making any changes to your diet. Also, if you have kidney disease or other kidney issues,  you should consider that as well.

There are online calculators you can use to give you an idea of how much protein you should take in. Also, if you are an athlete, do strenuous exercise such as lifting weights, or are looking to put on weight or build more muscle mass, you may want to add more protein than the recommended amount.

Many people find it hard to fit in the recommended amount of protein per day. With a few tips and tricks, you can easily be on your way to meeting your protein goals.

Here are 5 ways to get more protein in your diet:

1. Start Your Day Off Right

Many breakfast foods are packed with protein which will keep you satisfied way past lunchtime. Experiment with egg omelets and muffins, protein pancakes, Greek yogurt or even a protein shake and you’ll be well on your way to hitting your daily protein requirement. My favorite protein shake to make is easy: 1 scoop of protein powder, 1/3 almond milk, 1/2 tin Greek yogurt, one tablespoon of your favorite peanut butter (or PB2 for less calories, carbs and fat), a drizzle of sugar-free chocolate syrup and blend with ice.

2. Plan Your Plate

When preparing your meal focus on having half your plate consist of a protein, 1/4-1/2 containing vegetables, and the other quarter for whole grains or other carbs if you so desire. If you’re watching your weight, it’s a good idea to focus on leaner proteins, like chicken and fish, as a lot of fat and calories can come along with some richer protein choices. Keeping this mentality will help you hit your protein goals and also keep you from eating empty calories.

3. Find New Options Online

There are so many health blogs and websites that offer delicious recipes for free. Have you ever had a protein ball? Some can contain as many as 10 grams of protein. It’s a great snack to take on the go, freezes well, and will keep your blood sugars in check too. Also, shop for specialty items, like low-carb flours online. Look out for promotions and special deals to buy in bulk, or save some money if it’s your first time buying — many online shops will offer such discounts!

4. Buy in Bulk

If you’re focusing on increasing your protein, you’ll likely need to add more lean meat, fish or other plant-based protein sources so buying in bulk will help you save money and allow you to meal prep too. Consider prepping and freezing too, it makes deciding what for dinner much easier. Whether you’re going to your local Costco, or finding a great deal on the internet (see above), buying staples in bulk is sure to save you some cash.

5. Preparedness Is Key

If you are actively trying to increase your protein, you are likely tracking what you eat. Preparing meals ahead of time allows you to customize your meals to the exact macros you set. This will also help avoid last-minute food runs that offer little to no nutrition at all. Some great apps to help you track your macros are MyFitnessPal and MyPlate.

Eating more protein will make you feel fuller longer, build and strengthen muscles, along with many other health benefits. Make sure to discuss with your doctor how much protein is right for you and you will be well on your way to a healthier version of you!

Do you find it hard to get in your daily recommended dose of protein? What tips and tricks can you share?

Source: diabetesdaily.com

10 Ways to Reduce the Sugar in Your Diet

Eating too much sugar is known to contribute to heart disease, obesity, tooth decay, cancer and numerous other health problems. Yet, the average American eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. Many studies have linked high-sugar intake to an increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality due to CVD.  As people living with diabetes, we must be especially mindful of the amount of sugar we take in. Limiting our added sugar can help us manage our blood sugar, avoid weight gain and improve our overall health.

Here are some realistic and manageable ways to cut back on your sugar intake. Making these small changes can lead to a healthier version of you!

1. Step Back and Re-evaluate

Make healthy changes in other areas of your life. For instance, make sure to get adequate sleep so you’re not relying on coffee laden with sugar to get you through the day. Also, adding some structure to your day can help you avoid making last-minute food choices that are usually out of convenience and less healthy than those snacks and meals we eat at home. Being prepared means less haphazard choices that may not be the best for your overall health.

2. Don’t Fall for the Low-Fat Trick

Many food companies love to boast their low-fat products but what they don’t tell you is that these foods often contain more sugar and calories than their low-fat alternatives. When fat is removed from a food, it takes away from the natural flavor, therefore they add sugar to sweeten it up. Opt for full-fat versions, and keep in mind that there are also plenty of benefits of adding fat to our diet!

3. Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks

Thankfully, there are so many healthy beverage options now on the market. With options like Vitamin Water, Kevita probiotic drinks, a host of flavored sparkling seltzers, and many more, it is a lot easier to avoid those more sugary drinks that can quickly lead to both weight gain and high blood sugars. If you are a fan of coffee and/or tea, its best to keep it black or use a natural sweetener such as Lakanto’s Monkfruit Sweetener.

4. Experiment with Rubs Instead of Sauces

Condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce are commonly used but come loaded with sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup usually contains about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Check for reduced-sugar or sugar-free versions which still pack the flavor. Also, when cooking your own food, try using dry rubs of flavorful herbs and spices instead of sauces. Some other low sugar options to consider are pesto sauce, mayonnaise and even avocado. They are absolutely delicious and can spice up any meal, even a slice of bread!

Pesto sauce is a low-carb option. Photo credit: Adobe Stock

5. Consider Diet-Friendly Sugar Substitutes

While some people can take their coffee black others may cringe at the thought. Thankfully there are plenty of healthy sugar substitutes that you can use in place of the real deal. This doesn’t only go for your morning coffee but for your cooking and baking needs too. You can easily take a high sugar dessert and replace it with one of these flavorful and healthier options. And the best news is we longer have to be tempted by sugar-free treats that contain sorbitol or maltitol and are known for causing stomach upset.

6. Change Your Mindset When It Comes to Snacks

We are all quick to grab packaged goods when we need something quick to eat. Processed foods are loaded with sugar so are not the best choice for a snack to help fuel you. Consider opting for cheese, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and beef jerky to name a few. And if you are hosting a get-together or need an idea to bring elsewhere, consider healthy options that are low in sugar such as hummus and vegetables, shrimp skewers and meat and cheese charcuterie boards.

7. Moderation

It is important to remember that some sugar in moderation is okay. And some people may be able to better manage eating sugar in moderation than others. Listen to your body and do what works for you. Having a healthy mindset when talking about any type of food group will help to avoid any negative feelings or emotions that could come along with eliminating something altogether.

8. Technology Is Your Friend

Some like to take advantage of apps like Myfitnesspal to track their calories and track macros. It is eye-opening to track a day of eating and see how much you are really consuming. For example, when I did this exercise I learned that I wasn’t taking in nearly enough fiber so I was able to adjust my daily intake. Another great app is by Companion Medical for the use of InPen. Here you will be able to enter the number of carbs and it will tell you exactly how much insulin you need based on your doctor recommended settings. Use technology as your guide and keep the sugar to the amount that you are comfortable with while still feeling in control.

9. Increase Your Protein Intake

The benefits of protein in your diet are endless, and it is vital in helping fuel our body and give us energy. It also helps us build muscle mass, helps keep our bones strong, and helps keep us satiated. By adding more protein to your diet you can avoid those sugar-laden snacks since you will be fuller for longer. Try making all meals protein-dominant, with a small portion of any foods that may spike your sugar or add on pounds if you are weight conscious.

10. Know What to Look for on the Label

Back in 2016, the FDA changed their rules so that companies would have to disclose how much added sugar was in their products along with the % of the daily value. This is helpful but there are over 50 other names for added sugars, making it even more difficult to detect. Check out the nutritional label and be sure to pay attention to the order of ingredients as they are listed with the highest % first. Some of the common names to look out for are: high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar or juice, maltose, dextrose, molasses, rice syrup and caramel.

If you are looking to get better control of your blood sugar or are looking to lose or maintain your weight, cutting back on sugar is an easy way to better your health. Taking the steps above will ensure you much success in your diabetes and weight management efforts.

Have you tried cutting back on your sugar intake? What measures did you take and what were the results? Comment and share below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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