|How Protein Can Help You Resist Unhealthy Holiday Temptations|
By: Susan Bowerman, M.S.,RD,CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr.Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition
The holidays are a time to be around friends, family,and of course, food. But many of our holiday treats and dishes can often be high in calories but low in the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need.
One way to resist unhealthy sweets and foods during this period is to incorporate more protein into every meal while cutting back on carbs and fat. You’ll feel more full, so you’ll eat less and cut down on snacking.
The Role of Protein
Protein is important because it helps you build and maintain lean muscle mass. It’s the foundation for bones, muscles, skin, blood, and connective tissue. According to Ramathibodi Hospital’s Faculty of Medicine, the average adult needs a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This varies, however, depending on age and activity level.
Protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, legumes, and seeds also supply B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium. So when you’re adding protein while cutting back on empty calories, you’re getting the benefit of extra nutrients your body needs.
How to Resist Overeating During the Holidays
Here are some ways to swap in protein as you navigate all the temptations:
Have a Healthy, Protein-Rich Breakfast
Start the day with a high-protein breakfast – about 25 grams should do it. Instead of cereal, try a meal replacement shake or oatmeal with protein powder blended in. Studies suggest this not only helps keep you full until lunch but may even help curb your intake over the course of the day.
Incorporate Healthy Snacking
Try not to head to a holiday event with an empty stomach. Have a substantial snack prior, such as plain Greek yogurt or fresh fruit, or a protein-rich snack bar before you leave.
You can also bring some portable high-protein snacks with you, such as a handful of unsalted almonds, a protein bar or a packet of roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, just in case.
Be Selective About Holiday Food
For sides, cut out the starchy sides, such as white rice, bread, pasta and egg noodles. Instead, double up on legumes, quinoa, lean meats, and soy alternatives to meat.
As a main course, try a holiday salad with a protein boost from lean chicken or seafood with edamame, tofu or beans as a topper. And don’t forget to keep up (or begin!) your exercise routine – you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll look great after your holiday best.
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