What is Lean Protein – Overview
Protein is the building block that develops your body and nurtures its cells. The human body requires essential macronutrients like protein to fully grow and function effectively. Macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates help your body produce energy. Hence, your body needs them in large amounts to beat fatigue and exhaustion.
You can find protein in every part of your body. Your bones, muscles, skin, hair, etc are made up of protein. Your hormones, enzymes, and a healthy immune system are all built with the help of protein. So, if you need the energy to lift that heavy sofa set in your home or run a marathon, you know what you need — protein.
What is Lean Protein?
Traditionally popular protein sources contain a high percentage of fat which can pose health challenges and act as a deterrent if you are trying to lose weight. Enter lean protein. To simply explain, lean protein is essentially a high protein with low values of fat and calories.
Lean protein helps you feel full for a long duration and kills those little hunger pangs. Since it has a low percentage of fat, it can potentially save you from cardiovascular disease.
What is Considered Lean?
In terms of health, the word lean is defined as something that contains little fat or is non-fatty.
According to USDA, a lean protein has less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fats, and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3.5-ounce portion. A simple way to define lean protein is a protein source with up to 3 grams of fat per ounce. It also tends to have fewer calories per serving.
Why Do You Need Lean Protein: Disadvantages of Fattier Protein?
Traditional protein sources like red meats have high fat and calories. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that higher consumption of animal protein increases the risk of death due to chronic diseases by a whopping 23%. Further, studies suggest that it aids in unnecessary weight gain and causes coronary heart diseases.
With so many disadvantages to health caused by fattier protein sources, lean protein aka your non-fatty protein gained prominence and adoration from health-conscious people and the medical community.
5 Benefits of Lean Protein
1. Assist Weight Loss
Satiety i.e. the feeling of fullness helps in weight loss by curbing the urges to eat at short intervals. Lean protein aids in satiety, effectively controlling hunger for a couple of hours. Once you feel full, you will no longer eat more than the required food and eventually lose weight.
2. Builds Muscles Swiftly
Devoid of fats, lean protein is the choice of most top-performing athletes and film stars. As the body can absorb amino acids from lean protein easily, it provides far better results in muscle gain.
3. Improves Heart Health
Numerous research has found that death caused by heart attacks could be avoided if the concerned people ate less high-protein meat, especially red meat. Lean protein gives you the right amount of macronutrients and also takes care of your heart.
4. Stabilize Blood Glucose Levels
Lean protein has less amount of carbohydrates. Carbs are sugar molecules that your body breaks down into glucose. More carbs mean higher levels of blood glucose. Lean protein has less quantity of carbohydrates per serving, ensuring that your blood glucose levels stay within healthy limits.
5. Better Absorption of Minerals
Since lean proteins have less or no amount of fat, the body fully absorbs minerals and vitamins. Also, lean protein is an excellent source of crucial minerals and vitamins like Vitamin C and iron.
Sources of Lean Proteins
Plain Greek Yogurt
A popular snack of today, plain Greek yogurt is an excellent source of lean protein minus extra fats. A 170-gram serving of plain Greek yogurt provides 15-20 grams of protein as compared to regular curd, which only has 9 grams of protein per serving.
The primary reason for the higher amount of protein is the way Greek yogurt is prepared. Unlike regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is strained to remove its whey resulting in a thicker and creamier consistency.
Plain Greek yogurt also has less than 3 grams of fat per 170 grams of serving. Opting for plain yogurt is better so you also save yourself from unnecessary sweeteners and sugar. It is also a great source of minerals like calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Pulses, Peas, and Beans
Legumes which include dry beans, peas, and pulses, are a rich source of protein and fiber. Per 100 grams of serving, they provide 8 grams of protein.
The high content of protein and fiber helps you feel full for a long duration. Be assured that after having a heartful serving of legumes, you will not feel hungry for hours to come.
Moreover, legumes can help you lower blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and diabetes risk. They are also rich in antioxidants and help in aging.
Egg whites are a great source of protein minus cholesterol, calories, and fats. If you wish to include eggs in your diet or suffer from heart diseases, you can simply include egg whites in your diet.
One egg white contains half the protein of a whole egg i.e. 3.5 grams per serving and less than 0.5 grams of fat. For added benefits, you can add vegetables like onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, and peas to your egg white omelet.
Low-fat Milk and Cottage Cheese
How can we forget milk or cheese? Both are great sources of protein.
Low-fat milk provides 8 grams of protein in 1 cup of serving. You can add it to cereals, oats, and smoothies or just drink it plain. Also, low-fat milk has fewer calories and fat than regular whole milk.
Low-fat cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and calcium. One single serving provides 28 grams of protein. You can also have live and active probiotic culture infused in the cheese to give an added boost to your gut.
Lean ground beef is a terrific source of high-quality protein. To get 22 grams of protein, you just need 3 ounces of ground beef. You can serve it with boiled or grated vegetables and salad. Along with protein, it’s an excellent source of iron, zinc, and Vitamin B12.
Like everything else, your diet requires balance to give maximum benefits. Healthy fat, protein, and carbs are essential for a healthy body. But if you wish to lose weight, it is advised to switch to lean protein sources, which have less fat.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Aiming for protein sources with less saturated fat and plenty of other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals should be your main goal.
Always remember that your body needs healthy fat to function. So do not completely cut off the fat, but have it from heart-friendly sources. A nutritious and plentiful diet will keep you healthy and going.