By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC
Its 3 PM. Your starving, so you reach for that 100 calorie pack of starch to curb your hunger…and your not satisfied? Well who would be, there is no protein in it, its all carbs. We all know protein is important for keeping us full and keeping us strong. However, studies find that most children are not getting enough and many adults fall short on their daily intake as well. The reason this is so important, is without the rotation of different proteins and the quantity, out bodies will not make the natural amino acids that keep us focused, stable, and happy.
The Facts: Amino acids are the building blocks for Neurotransmitters; amino acids are created by our genetic make-up, but also our diet. Protein and supplementation are the main sources of changing and increasing amino acid availability in ones body.
Are You Getting Enough?: To calculate how much protein you need on a daily basis take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2, this will give you amount in grams that your body needs at a minimum (unless otherwise noted by your doctor or other health professional). For example: 140 pound woman needs approximately 64 grams per day.
Where to Get it:Nuts, lean meats, dairy products, soy, legumes, whey protein powder, and seafood are all great sources. For kids a serving size is approximately 2 oz, depending on their weight. For adults a serving size is 4 to 6 oz.
Protein for Kids: even for the pickiest eaters daily protein intake can be achieved. This especially important when school starts and focus is needed. In the morning try almond or peanut butter and toast, instead of a pop-tart or sugar filled pastry. For a mid morning snack, freeze a yogurt and put it in their lunch box, it will be cold by the time snack-time rolls around. For lunch, turkey and cheese roll-ups, rather than pizza. For dinner, adding in tofu or chicken to your child’s meal will increase their amino acid availability and keep them satisfied longer.
***If your child refuses, whey protein powder is easily hidden in smoothies, milk, and oatmeal.
Why Rotate?: If we eat the same thing everyday our body is going to get used to the amino acids in that food, making it difficult to create new strains of amino acids, thus less neurotransmitter availability. Therefore, making changes in protein increases your availability to create new strains. Simple fixes are, chose fish instead of chicken on your salad. Add protein powder to your morning oatmeal instead of just milk, or try adding in a mid morning snack of yogurt and nuts.
So next time your starving, think about this, will that snack fill me up? Adding in protein keeps you fuller, longer, carbs alone will leave you feeling hungry and tired. Instead of that bag of chips try a bag of trail mix, or cheese and crackers . You will find yourself more focused, in a better mood, and best of all SATISFIED.
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