Question:

I have trouble staying full between meals and while in class and at work. I usually reach for a lot of protein. I know I am consuming more than I need, but how much is too much? And what are some food ideas that can help me stay satisfied without a ton of protein? I would especially like some recipes with a lot of fiber. I am a 19-year-old woman and working with a trainer to build muscle and lose weight.

– Patricia C.

Answer:

The US RDA for protein is only 46 grams for a 19-year-old woman of reference bodyweight (approx. 126 lbs.), based on 0.8 gm protein per kg, though individual requirements can vary from 0.5 gm/kg/d to 1.0 gm/kg/d. In an energy-balanced diet for weight maintenance, the recommended limit for protein is 35% of calories to reduce the risk of chronic disease. To allow caloric room for phytonutrients from plants, one should consider limiting animal protein to 6-8 oz. daily plus 1 cup cow’s milk product, depending on energy needs. Of course, you could meet all your protein needs from plant sources, too.

For higher fiber filling snacks without ‘a ton’ of protein try these portable suggestions: air-popped popcorn and cashews; freeze-dried corn, peas & carrots; soynuts; sugar snap peas; individual hummus tub, celery & carrot sticks; veggie chips; apple and peanut butter;

Don’t forget to start your day with a decent breakfast to stave off hunger throughout the day! If you base your first repast on oatmeal with nuts + dried fruit or home-fried potatoes with onions + peppers, then add a protein like eggs on the side, you’ll have a complete robust and balanced meal.

Resource:

  1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients (e.g., protein, fat and carbohydrates)

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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