Is protein fattening, or can I drink a protein smoothie every day? – Gloria
Yes to both your questions! Protein is fattening — if you are getting too many calories from it. You can only use so much protein at a time and the body doesn’t store it for later. Just like carbohydrates or fat, excess protein is stored as fat. How much do you need?
For healthy adults, aim for about half a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily for maintenance. (That’s only 80 grams for a 160 pound person.) You’ll need a little more if you’re restricting either calories or carbohydrates. At a single meal though, you don’t need more than 30 grams of protein. A good guide for smoothies or shake powders is 1 gram protein per 10 calories. Target 20 grams protein for a 200 calorie shake (40% calories from protein).
Solid food protein sources can be fattening because of volume we eat or the fat and carbohydrate content associated with them. Prime rib is VERY fatty, while egg whites are not. Nuts are very fatty, but beans are not. A cup of milk offers 8 grams of protein, yet flavored varieties can have as much as 15-20 grams added sugar!
A smoothie is best suited for pre or post-workout… or when you need a quick snack. Otherwise, stick to the lean, low-fat, unbreaded and plain versions of meat, poultry, fish, legumes and dairy sources. So enjoy your protein smoothie on the way to or from the gym.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
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