This Summer Think Protein to Stay Healthy and Satisfied

This Summer Think Protein to Stay Healthy and Satisfied


AUSTIN, Texas, June 15 /PRNewswire/ — Summer is the season of outdoor activities – running, swimming, soccer and enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. Coincidentally, it is also ice-cream-truck-and-cotton-candy-at-the-fair season.

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With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that 28 percent of Texans are obese and that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years, this summer junk-food-jubilee can be a dangerous time for your family’s health. Now is the time for parents to mold a healthy diet for the whole family.

Registered Dietician Martha Cortez McHenry advises parents to create a summer menu based on a protein-rich diet. Current research suggests that packing meals with high-quality, lean proteins may be the first step in maintaining a healthy weight. Filling plates with fruits and vegetables, low- and non-fat dairy products, whole grains and lean protein supplies important vitamins and minerals the body needs. Lean beef is a familiar, high-quality lean protein that kids enjoy. An added bonus: it contains 10 essential nutrients and is the number one food source of B12, zinc and, most importantly, protein, McHenry says.

“Protein can help all of us maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and fuel physical activity, all of which play an important role in a healthful lifestyle,” McHenry said. “It is especially important for children to have a protein-rich diet, as their bodies are developing; and they need anti-bodies, which consist of protein, to bounce back from injury and illness.”

High-quality, complete proteins like lean beef provide the right amounts of essential amino acids, or “building blocks,” the body needs to grow and maintain muscle; so everyday function depends on sufficient protein intake, McHenry says. Lean proteins also provide the energy needed to maintain the level of physical activity necessary for maintaining weight.

Including protein foods in your family’s diet will also help keep them full because it has more staying power than carbohydrates and fats, according to a 2007 study by the Journal of Nutrition.

With these proven benefits, McHenry is working to dispel the misconception that protein foods, like beef, are unhealthy and full of fat. In reality, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef has, on average, only one gram more of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast. In fact, 29 cuts of beef meet the federal standards for “lean,” and all of these cuts weigh in at 175 calories or less with fewer than 10 grams of fat for a 3-ounce serving. In addition, more than 50 percent of beef’s fats are monounsaturated — the same heart healthy fats found in olive oil.

To start building a healthy family lifestyle, keep these protein tips in mind:

— When planning a day trip, pack lunches made with peanut butter, tuna (in water) and string cheese.

— Stock your pantry with snacks like nuts, whole grain crackers and beef jerky.

— When shopping for dinner items, choose the leanest cuts of beef with “loin” or “round” in the name; and choose ground beef that is at least 90 percent lean.

— Use low-fat cooking methods, such as broiling, roasting or the summer favorite, grilling.

— Serve the recommended 3-ounce portion size for meats — the size of a deck of cards or a computer mouse.

For beef recipes and more nutritional facts, visit

SOURCE Texas Beef Council

This Summer Think Protein to Stay Healthy and Satisfied