Eating high-protein snacks can help you lose weight.
By Staness Jonekos, Co-author The Menopause Makeover
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that skipping high-protein foods may lead to overeating and is often one of the biggest causes of excess weight gain especially during the menopause years.
Take away the water in your body and about 75 percent of your weight is protein. This chemical family is found throughout the body – in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood.
Protein is also called the building blocks for the body. The body needs protein to build new muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. It is also needed in order for the body to make hormones, enzyme and many other necessary cells.
Protein prevents loss of muscle mass and strength.
Protein increases satiety (the feeling of being satisfied) more than carbohydrates or fats. Animal protein makes you feel full longer than plant protein.
Incorporate these high-protein snacks for your Menopause Makeover.
When you’re going for lean protein, low-calorie turkey is one of my favorite choices. Three ounces of turkey provides a whopping 25 grams of protein for only 140 calories. Deli slices can be high in sodium, so roast a small turkey for dinner and using the leftover slices as nutritious snacks.
Homemade protein shakes can be a delicious way to add protein to your diet. Combine protein powder with nonfat milk or almond milk or low-fat soy milk, then add frozen fruit (blueberries rock in protein shakes), ½ banana for creamy texture, ½ tablespoon of flaxseed (or flaxseed oil), ½ tablespoon of honey, and you have a healthy meal replacement or high-protein snack. When you control the ingredients you skip the added sugar that often comes with store-bought protein bars and shakes.
Diet staple low-fat cottage cheese is an excellent protein source, with a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese providing 14 grams of protein for only 81 calories. Throw in some berries or your favorite fruit and it makes a terrific snack when you want to stay full between meals or can even be a satisfying meal all on its own. This snack makes an excellent way to start your day.
Greek yogurt, which is strained to remove whey, is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, making it a healthful stand-alone snack, a great mixer for fresh fruit, cereal, or nuts, and a healthy swap for fattier dairy products such as sour cream or cream cheese. The yogurt’s power comes from its protein — Greek yogurt contains 15 to 20 grams of protein in a 6-ounce serving versus 9 grams in regular yogurt. Add some berries for a yummy snack.
Eggs have been getting a bad rap for their cholesterol content. Now the American Heart Association has come around and acknowledged that the benefits of eggs might outweigh the cholesterol risks when eaten in moderation (less than six whole eggs per week). One large egg contains 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories. If you’re concerned about cholesterol, many egg substitutes on the market offer lower-cholesterol alternatives that still pack a protein punch.
Keep a bowl or hard-boiled eggs in your home fridge for an instant healthy snack.
Tofu or soy bean curd is another excellent high-protein meal base and source of healthy fats and nutrients. Because it absorbs flavors so well and can be cut into cubes, strips, or chunks, it can be prepared in a variety of ways. Some research has shown that consuming soy can reduce risk of breast or prostate cancer, thanks to its high levels of phytoestrogens, though that link is still being studied.
Edamame (young soybeans sold in pods and or shelled) contain about 36 percent protein, which is 86 percent higher than mature soybeans. Edamame’s low oil content, combined with its high protein content, makes this vegetable very popular with health-conscious people who want a low-fat, protein-rich snack. Vegetarians and vegans who want a high protein food will find that edamame’s protein is complete, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids the human body needs
As vegans and vegetarians know, lentils pack a powerful punch of protein, fiber, and minerals while containing comparatively few calories and almost no fat. A cup of cooked lentils offers 22 grams of protein, about 300 calories, and less than 1 gram of fat. Lentils are also relatively quick to prepare for a meal or snack, and because they soak up the flavors of whatever they’re cooked with, they can make a tasty base for many dishes.
Chances are, you loved peanut butter as a kid, but you may have shied away from this traditional treat as an adult because of concerns about fat. Peanut, almond, cashew and other nut butters are high-protein foods, with about two tablespoons providing 7 grams of protein. And though nut butter does contain fat and saturated fat, it can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in small amounts. Just remember not to slather it on crackers — instead, spread it on carrot or celery sticks for healthy snacking.
Whether you go for cashews, walnuts, pistachios or any of the other varieties, whole, raw nuts are a healthy high-protein snack choice. If you’re concerned about calories, limit your nut intake to a handful or two, and remember that though nuts are high in fat, it’s healthy monounsaturated fat, which doesn’t clog arteries and is an essential part of a healthy diet. Plus, nuts are high in fiber, which when paired with their protein content, keeps you feeling full longer.
It doesn’t matter which nut you go nuts for — they all have health benefits — but research consistently indicates that almonds might be the best of the bunch. Numerous studies have found that almonds can help lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. They are also extremely high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and have been shown to help manage weight.