Proteins are mainly found in meat, poultry, fish, cheese and legumes (beans and lentils). They are responsible for creating, maintaining and repairing cells in the body, and they are essential for maintaining one’s immunity and fighting infections.
Protein only makes up about 1/5th of our daily calories. Alone, proteins do not raise blood sugars. However, when you combine carbohydrate with lean protein and healthier fats at meals (in appropriate portions), the balanced meal will help to keep your blood sugars from rising too high. Because protein takes longer to digest, it stays with you longer which helps keep you fuller, longer! This means that you should not feel hungry every half-hour if you include lean protein at meals and snacks. However, you must remember that too much protein is converted to fat and is stored in the body, so watch your portions, too much is not a good thing!
Use the following guidelines when choosing your protein choices:
- Choose lean meat, poultry (no skin, white meat), and fish
- Try to avoid high fat meats such as bologna, sausage, salami, bacon, wieners and spare ribs because they contain extra fat and are high in salt.
- Choose low fat or light cheese (%MF should be less than 15%)
- Choose legumes (beans and lentils) as they are low in fat and high in fibre.
- Eat 5-7 ounces of protein foods a day. Three ounces per meal is about the right amount for most people. This is the size of a deck of cards or ¼ of your plate.
1 oz of protein equals: