Dr. Oz's Protein Prescription

Control your weight and fight off diseases like heart disease and diabetes by eating the best proteins at the right times.

If you think that scrumptious foods like steak or eggs are totally bad for you, think again. In fact, protein-rich foods like these can help you lose weight and fight off disease. Eating the right kinds of protein at the right times is essential to keeping your metabolism running smoothly, allowing you to feel great and keep off the weight. But eating the wrong types and amounts of protein might also deal your health a blow. Make sure you know how much protein to eat and when to eat it with Dr. Oz's protein prescription.

What kind of protein you should eat:
Animal proteins most closely mirror the kinds of protein that make up your body and tend to be the richest sources of this vital nutrient. However, nuts, beans, legumes and dairy are also excellent protein options, especially for vegetarians, and are important parts of any balanced diet.

When it comes to nuts and nut butters, almonds, cashews, peanut butter and almond butter pack the most powerful protein punch. For beans and legumes, opt for lentils, black beans, chickpeas and pinto beans. With dairy, stick to Greek yogurt – other types of dairy have protein as well, but Greek yogurt is the healthiest option, and one cup alone contains 23 grams of protein!

How much to have:
In total, you should eat five to six servings of protein a day. Here are good serving sizes to stick to:

Animal proteins: One egg or three ounces of grilled chicken, lean steak or fish (about the size of your palm)

Nuts: One ounce or two tablespoons of nut butter

Legumes and beans: 1/2 cup

Dairy: One cup of Greek yogurt. Stick to only one serving of dairy a day to avoid potential ill effects like bloating or inflammation.

When to eat protein:
Eat a serving of protein with every meal and then two to three protein-rich snacks. It's particularly important to start your day off with protein to jump-start your metabolism and keep you burning calories efficiently throughout the rest of the day. Eating one serving every two to three hours rather than all at once will help your body better absorb it.

It's important to make sure that you are eating protein as part of a healthy diet that is also low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables. This protein prescription is based on giving you a good balance of the healthiest kinds of protein. Some recent research has suggested that eating a diet too high in animal proteins may actually shorten life or contribute toward disease formation, so be sure you're not turning to steak every time you eat a snack. Get a good mix of different protein sources, especially since non-animal sources are also high in fiber and other nutrients that can support your immune system and help stabilize blood sugar.

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