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On a Hunt for Protein

By Kim Bertonica, RN


As a Certified Bariatric Nurse, I spend many hours of my time educating patients to understand what protein is and what foods contain protein.


Protein foods come either as animal or plant sources. Meat, seafood and poultry, as well as eggs come from animals and beans, peas, soy, nuts and seeds are plant-based.  


When selecting protein foods, look for lower fat options. Seafood and fish can replace the typical meat as a main ingredient in a meal and you should strive for 2-3 seafood/fish based meals per week. When selecting meat, pick the lean ground beef or low fat cuts like those with the words round or loin in them. With poultry, stick with white meat, and remove the skin before eating.  Eggs are an “egg-cellent” choice, considered one of the highest quality sources of protein.  The egg whites are low in calories, high in protein, contain no cholesterol and virtually no fat. Avoid deli meats that are processed because they are high in fat and sodium. Select deli meat that is fresh, roasted, 100% turkey or chicken breast.


Many of us who are not vegetarians forget that plant proteins are naturally low in fat and high in fiber. There are many kinds of beans that are delicious as well as nutritious such as kidney, black, white, or pinto beans. Chickpeas, hummus and split peas, as well as soy products like tofu or veggie burgers, are good choices. Unsalted nuts like almonds, walnuts, pine nuts are good in salads. Beware though, nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of calories so you need to watch the amount you eat at one sitting as the calories can add up quickly.


Lastly, the protein you eat should be tasty and healthy. Baking, broiling, roasting and grilling don’t add extra fat. Experiment with different recipes and different cooking techniques such as using a crockpot or pressure cooker. You will be amazed at what you have been missing. 


If there is ever a time that you are finding it difficult to meet your protein needs, schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian to assist you on an individualized basis.