Protein

Sixty percent of Americans say they’d like to lose 20 pounds, according to a new 2006 survey. If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans looking to take a few inches off your waistline, protein may help your weight loss program.

Protein, an important nutrient and fuel for the body, also aids in weight loss, according to researchers who have found a link between protein and hunger. French scientists from Lyon University found a potential new target for the treatment of eating disorders. „It is well known that protein feeding decreases hunger sensation and subsequent food intake in animals and humans,“ said study author Gilles Mithieux. Protein not only provides satiety, but aids in maintaining lean muscle mass while losing unwanted fat.

Another recent study demonstrated the beneficial impact of protein. People following lower-carbohydrate/higher-protein diets lost more weight than those on a low-fat/low-cholesterol/low-calorie diet over a six-month period, although differences in weight loss after one year were similar for both diets. Improvements in some risk factors for coronary heart disease were seen in the low-carbohydrate/higher-protein diet group, including greater decreases in triglycerides and greater increases in HDL cholesterol (also referred to as good cholesterol) levels.

Including lean meat and poultry in your diet can be healthy as well as convenient. „Certain cuts or parts of beef, chicken, pork and turkey are all packed with protein, low in fat and saturated fat, and have an excellent nutrient profile,“ notes nutrition expert Michelle Tuttle, R.D. Look for lower-fat meat and poultry choices such as:

• Lean beef cuts such as round steaks and roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.

• Lean pork such as pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.

• Extra-lean ground beef. The label should say at least „90% lean.“ You may be able to find ground beef that is 93% or 95% lean.

• Ground white meat turkey (99% fat free).

• Skinless poultry-chicken or turkey-or take off the skin before eating.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets or turkey tenderloins are the leanest poultry choices.

• Choose lean turkey, roast beef, ham, or low-fat luncheon meats for sandwiches instead of luncheon meats with more fat, such as regular bologna or salami.

While there are both animal and plant sources for protein, meat products such as lean meat and poultry offer essential vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the American diet. Mix in some physical activity and you have a great recipe for a healthier lifestyle in 2006. Bon Appetit!