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How to Choose Lean Protein

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Updated March 19, 2014

egg

Eggs are a diet-friendly and budget-friendly source of lean protein.

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Lean protein is an important part of any healthy diet and can help you with your weight-loss efforts. Lean protein provides you with a sense of satiety (fullness) and can help prevent overeating. Here are some pointers for selecting good sources of lean protein:

 

Fish

Fish is one of the healthiest sources of lean protein. It is nautrally lower in saturated fat than poultry or beef. Coldwater fish, such as salmon, is an excellent choice as it contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, a "good" fat that can be beneficial to your health.

 

Chicken and Turkey

Poultry is a good source of protein -- just choose white meat turkey and chicken as often as possible; it is lower in calories than dark meat. Be sure to remove the skin before eating. Ideal preparation methods include roasting, grilling, and baking.

 

Beef

Watching your fat and calorie-intake doesn't mean you have to give up beef. Choose cuts with the words "round" or "loin" in the name, and those that have less visible marbling. Trim any visible fat before you cook it or ask the butcher to do so before wrapping it up. When choosing ground beef, look for "lean" or "extra lean" on the label.

 

Eggs

Despite getting a bad reputation a few years back due to cholesterol concerns, eggs truly can be part of any healthy diet. Eggs provide around five grams of protein per serving. They are the most budget-friendly protein source, at less than $2 a dozen. They are easy to prepare, and can be used creatively in many different ways, from breakfast, to sandwiches, to heartier dishes such as fritatta or quiches. If you are concerned about cholesterol, just use fewer yolks (the fat and cholesterol is in the yolk). Tip: I like making scrambled eggs with one whole egg and two whites.

 

Low-Fat Dairy

Low-fat dairy products are an ideal source of lean protein because much of the saturated fat has been removed from them. They provide vitamin D and calcium (which may help you lose weight). Low-fat cheese, milk and yogurt are staples of a healthy diet as they can be worked into almost any meal or as a part of healthy snacks.

 

Beans, Peas and Lentils

Beans, peas, and lentils are also good lean protein sources, particularly for those who follow a vegetarian diet. They provide plenty of fiber, which most of us need to increase in our diets. The protein and fiber pack a "one-two punch" that can help you feel fuller much longer than other foods and thereby prevent overeating. Try adding them to other recipes such as chili, soup, or even salads, and gradually increase your serving size or frequency to avoid gastric woes. (Adding too much fiber to your diet at once can cause gas and cramps.)

 

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