educational post · previous posts

ask the dietitian … part III

Here’s why you should not neglect eating lean protein daily …

In continuation of my Q and A session with Jennifer Bryant, registered dietician, and certified diabetic educator, specializing in weight management, I asked Jennifer to answer the question why as she suggest eating another one of her top ten foods. This week she dives into the reasons why lean protein should be apart of your daily diet and how much you should be eating. To recap from previous weeks and/or to read Jennifer’s 10 foods with examples click here.

Q. In your opinion name ten foods that are necessary to a persons daily diet, include example and why?

A. Here is the sixth food I believe is essential and why:

Lean protein: fish, chicken or turkey


Proteins are made of amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids. Essential means that our body cannot make them and we need to get them from a food source. When a food is missing one of these essential amino acids, we call it an incomplete protein. All vegetable sources of protein are incomplete except soy. Animal proteins have all 9 essential amino acids, and therefore, are called complete proteins. This is the main reason for including lean animal protein daily. Getting adequate protein each day is important for cell growth and repair, maintaining fluid balance, generating appropriate enzymes and hormones, and maintaining a strong immune system.

To calculate the minimum amount of protein you need each day:  Your weight X 0.36

In order to build muscle you need more though.

To calculate the amount of protein needed each day to build muscle mass:  Your weight X 0.54

These numbers you have calculated are minimum amounts for the day.

It is true that you can get enough protein without eating animal proteins, but you must make sure they are complimentary proteins. Complimentary proteins are foods that are considered incomplete, but when you eat them together they make a complete protein. For example, legumes don’t have any methionine (an essential amino acid), and grains don’t have any lysine (another essential amino acid). However, grains have a lot of methionine, and legumes have a lot of lysine, so if you eat a bowl of lentil soup, and a slice of whole grain bread together, now you have a complimentary protein.

I am recommending lean proteins daily, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat beef or pork. Beef and pork are great sources of protein, but they typically have a little more saturated fat. You may want to consume these sources of animal protein a little less often.

Lastly, be aware of the type of fish you are choosing. Generally, wild caught fish are better nutritionally than farm raised. You must also be aware of the mercury content of fish. Limit fish to 3 servings weekly (4-6 oz each serving). And to limit mercury content further, choose small fish. The larger the fish, like shark, mackerel, and tuna, the more mercury they contain.

get help: If you live in the Albuquerque, NM, metro area and would like a free consultation with a dietitian or weight management counselor please contact:

Southwest Endocrinology Associates
5501 Jefferson Street NE
Suite 700
Albuquerque, NM 87109

 We specialize in weight loss, optimizing physique, and diabetes management.  The initial “Program Consultation” visit is Free.

… send in your questions or comments for Jennifer about lean protein this week. Happy Monday!


2 thoughts on “ask the dietitian … part III

  1. Question for the Dietitian: Could you possibly elaborate on the differences between Soy Protien and Whey Protien and the effects on the body? I have been told that taking Soy protien powder is a good way to get the protein I need without having to worry about putting on extra mass/weight. Any advice?

    1. There really isn’t much difference when it comes to the quality of the protein in soy protein vs. whey protein. They are both complete proteins and your body doesn’t know the difference. So if you have been using soy protein powder, I think that is a great option.

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