Here’s the test:
One of my clients showed me the following list of meals from her food journal, asking if I had any suggestions. There was one glaring issue that I pointed out to her. Can you guess what it was?
Light yogurt + Cliff bar
Lean cuisine risotto + apple
Salad + Sweet potato fries (These fries are DELICIOUS! Check out the recipe here)
There are a lot of things we could nitpick about the choices in this list (for example, the Cliff bar…🙄), but we are most concerned about what is NOT in this list.
Did you guess it?
The answer is…Protein!
Here’s what the protein content looks like for these meals:
Light yogurt (5g) + Cliff bar (9g)
Lean cuisine risotto (7g) + Apple (1g)
Salad (6g) + Sweet potato fries (2g)
Total protein: 30g
If you don’t know much about protein, let me tell you that 30g of protein is not enough! Most people need AT LEAST twice to three times that amount of protein. If you aren’t sure how much protein you need on a daily basis, check out my old post to learn how to calculate an estimate for yourself.
If you’re missing out on protein, don’t worry! There’s always time to fix it and it’s a fairly common problem based on the clients I’ve seen. Protein is easy to miss if you don’t regularly include meat or seafood in your diet because those are the most protein-heavy food sources.
At first glance, the food list above seems healthy to a lot of people because it’s low calorie and low fat, BUT we can’t be so focused on cutting things out of our diet (calories/fat/carbs) that we ignore other important pieces (protein, vitamins, antioxidants, etc). The trick is that if we focus on getting adequate protein and fiber, our calories will stay in check naturally.