Q: I'm a recovering carb addict who does well if I eat a low-carb diet and if I eat adequate, good-quality animal protein throughout the day. Because of my work schedule, I often don't have time to cook, which means I don't have enough ready-made meat that's handy to eat. Unfortunately, most easy-to-grab natural protein snacks, such as beef jerky, are sweetened with sweeteners or dried fruits (which can prompt cravings and bingeing!) or they have ingredients such as soy sauce that I can't tolerate. Do you have any suggestions of no-fuss, unsweetened, "clean" sources of animal protein that can help me? -Victoria M., Hartford, Conn.
A:I sure do, and many of them happen to be products that are either new to the market or that will be introduced in the next few months. So eating quality protein on the run is about to get a whole lot easier than it used to be. Here are a few of my favorites:.
EPIC has recently come out with two types of unsweetened jerky in its new wild game line: Venison from 100 percent grass-fed deer, and Salmon from wild-caught salmon. The total carbs in the two jerkies are 2 and 3 grams, respectively, with 12 and 13 grams of protein.
Sophia's Survival Food also makes unsweetened Jerky Chews from grass-fed beef, in both mild and spicy flavors.
You can get a good hit of easy-to-digest protein-10-12 grams per cup-simply by heating up bone broth and drinking it. EPIC now offers Homestyle Savory Chicken broth made from organic chicken bones, and Beef Jalapeño Sea Salt made from grass-fed beef bones. You'll find both of these in glass jars in the refrigerated section of your natural foods store.
Bonafide ProvisionsRestorative Bone Broth, formerly Real Bone Broth, is the nation's bestselling organic, frozen bone broth. Made from pastured, organic chicken bones or organic grass-fed beef bones, these broths are packed with organic onions, garlic, Celtic sea salt, parsley, and organic apple cider vinegar. They're packaged in BPA-free bags and frozen. To use, remove the bone broth from the freezer and thaw in your refrigerator for 24 hours, then open the bag, pour the amount you want into a small stockpot, and warm over medium heat.
Canned fish and seafood
For a satisfying dose of protein, look for cans of sustainably caught tuna with fresh-from-the-sea flavor.
There are many types of canned tuna and salmon. One good company to look for is Wild Planet Foods, which offers a full line of sustainably caught seafood with fresh-from-the-sea flavor. Its products include albacore and skipjack light tuna; wild Pacific and wild Alaska pink salmon; sardines; white anchovies; wild mackerel fillets; wild yellowtail; and wild pink shrimp.
Wild Planet recently expanded its product line to include its first land-based product, canned Organic Roasted Chicken Breast. The chicken is raised on an organic diet, including non-GMO corn grown on land that's free of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Simply open the can and eat as is, or make a meal in a flash by adding the cooked poultry meat to soups, salads, lettuce wraps, etc.
Did You Know?
Bone broth can provide 10-12 grams of healthy protein per cup. Just heat and drink. Yum!
Remember, too, that you can make your own ready-to-eat meat. When you make meals from scratch, get in the habit of cooking extra meat that you can refrigerate and eat the next day, or freeze and then thaw when you need quick-fix protein. Particularly good meat recipes to prepare are meatballs, meatloaf, and broiled, grilled, or stir-fried meat or poultry strips.
You can also make your own bone broth. Visit betternutrition.com/bone-broth-recipes for four homemade recipes, including Roasted Bone Broth and Simple Chicken Bone Broth. They can be frozen into individual servings so you can get your bone broth fix fast.
SIGNS THAT YOU MAY NEED MORE PROTEIN
Though some people eat too much protein, others, especially many women, eat too little. Be aware of the following signs, conditions, and stages of life that signal that you may need more protein than you're currently eating.
You frequently crave sweet or starchy foods. Protein is a slow-burning fuel that steadies blood-sugar levels and helps keep energy levels steady, making you far less apt to crave quick-fix carbohydrates such as grain products and sweet foods and drinks.
You have cardiovascular or diabetes risk factors. High-protein diets have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. This leads to beneficial changes in a wide range of metabolic, cardiovascular, and inflammatory markers, from insulin sensitivity to cholesterol and triglycerides to C-reactive protein.
You're trying to lose weight. Protein slightly speeds up metabolism and makes people feel more satisfied, so they naturally eat less and lose weight. Dieters who double their protein intake lose more fat and maintain more muscle mass than dieters who eat the recommended daily amount, according to a 2013 study in The FASEB Journal.
You're an athlete. The body uses protein to repair, build, or maintain muscle mass. People who exercise need more protein than their sedentary counterparts, and endurance athletes and strength-trained athletes need even more to optimize performance.
You're elderly. Higher protein intake helps combat physical and mental deterioration associated with aging. In 2014, research from Japan found that men who consumed higher levels of meat and fish had a 39 percent lower risk of both physical and mental decline compared to those who ate the least animal protein.
You're a woman who is pregnant or breast-feeding. Protein is crucial for a baby's growth during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters. It's also an important component of breast milk, which optimizes infant growth and development. Women who are pregnant and who are breast-feeding require more than 50 percent more protein than women who are not pregnant or nursing.
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