With two of American’s top three New Year’s resolutions being losing weight or increasing their fitness levels, what we are eating is back to top-of-mind…as long as the last of the Christmas cookies were thrown out with the tree. While it has been established that an excess amount of calories is the root cause of weight gain, not every calorie is the same. An evaluation of each calorie’s nutritional value is extremely important when dieting, as the average American’s diet reinforces the fact that we are over fed, yet undernourished.
“I know that it requires a lot of simple things, which people always (mistake) for the right pill, the right diet, the right exercise regimen, but what it really is, is eating properly and exercising. I owe a lot to genetics. I know that a lot of people can’t do some of the things that I do, but we don’t know what we can do until we put our minds to it.” – Dane Rauschenberg, completed over 140 marathons, ran Oregon coast line in one week (approximately 350 miles)
Dieters and anyone who eats needs to understand that while meat and beans may be higher in calories on initial review, when meat and beans are accompanied by an increased amount of fruits and vegetables, a healthy choice is made. To stay healthy, we need to eat 5 to 7 ounces from the meat and beans group daily to maintain the recommended moderate protein diet. This group includes beef, pork, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese. Protein sources also provide essential nutrients like iron and zinc.
“She always said that abs always start in the kitchen. And by that she meant that you can do all the exercise you want but if you’re not fueling the machine properly you might as well forget it. I really believe it’s the reason why, this weekend I’ll be running my 140th marathon, and I’ve never had a running injury. It’s because I fuel myself with the zinc, the iron, the protein that make it possible for me to continue on.” – Dane Rauschenberg, completed over 140 marathons, ran Oregon coast line in one week (approximately 350 miles)
Health benefits from a moderate protein diet include:
- Healthy Weight – Eat more protein with your meals and snacks and you’ll feel full longer, which helps control hunger and cravings, resulting in fewer calories consumed. You may also improve body composition while losing weight, and keep more muscle while losing more body fat. Research has also found a higher-protein diet helps maintain weight loss; people are less likely to regain weight that has been lost. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that, with a calorie-controlled diet, animal protein had a more positive effect on weight loss/maintenance than protein from plants.
- Aging – Increasing protein in the diet as people age can help stimulate muscle growth and reduce the loss of muscle that naturally occurs with age (sarcopenia). Sarcopenia results in loss of muscle and increases the risk of fractures and disability. Protein is also important for bone health as studies have found calcium is better absorbed when protein is present.
- Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes – A diet with more high-quality protein and less carbs, especially processed carbohydrates, has been found to have a positive effect on risk factors for heart disease, and may even help control or possibly prevent Type 2 diabetes by improving blood sugar levels.
With these tips, hard work and a healthy diet you should be well on your way to reaching your resolution – Good luck!
–Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.