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Benefits of Eating Lean Protein: Get Lean and Have a High Metabolism!

By Rob Poulos...

When it comes to protein, we usually reach for the bad kind.

The statistics say it all.  Despite national initiatives to educate Americans about healthy eating habits, most Americans would rather trade lean chicken and turkey for slobbering pieces of bacon, full-fat pork, and processed meat dripping with saturated fat.  Sure, it tastes good–but your heart ultimately pays the price.

According to the National Institutes of Health, saturated fat can increase your risk for heart disease and bad cholesterol levels–to name a few things.  Not surprisingly, high-fat protein sources are swimming with this heart-clogging fat, and not the good kind, like monounsaturated fat.  When you have too much saturated fat, which you can easily overdo by just eating one fatty portion of meat every day, you’re well on your way to heart attack city.

But, of course, you can undo this–just by switching to lean protein, or protein with low or minimal fat.

The Benefits of Eating Lean Protein

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know the mantra: Vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lean protein do a body good.

Lean protein isn’t just an old saying to encourage you to eat a balanced diet, however.  It also has innumerable health benefits–and can keep you on your diet.

For starters, lean meat, such as white chicken and turkey, are virtually free of fat, including saturated fat.  These protein sources also contain high-quality protein, a step up from low-quality sources you’ll find in processed foods.

Some types of lean protein, such as fish, also carry special fats which can further decrease your risk of heart disease.  Salmon, for instance, carry omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows can reduce your heart disease death risk by over 36 percent.

This isn’t to say that animal protein sources are king here.  Vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans, are also rich in something called fiber, a necessary component that can keep your digestive system healthy.  Fiber can also keep you fuller longer, due to the satiating effect it has once consumed.  Fiber too can also reduce your risk of heart disease.

But no matter what you choose, lean protein is still a smart choice for dieters: Protein can also help you build or maintain lean muscle mass, which keeps your metabolism high and makes you look leaner.  Choose to neglect your protein intake and you’ll lose excess muscle in the process (muscle thrives on protein), making you look fat and doughy, even if your weight is in the healthy weight range.

Good Sources of Lean Protein

If you need a good protein fix and want to make the healthy choice–or don’t know what exactly is lean protein, here are the lean protein choices that can do a body good:

–  Turkey breast

–  Chicken breast

–  Dark meat chicken

–  Dark meat turkey

–  Lean beef

–  Lean lamb

–  Low-fat turkey or chicken sliced luncheon meat

–  Fish fillet

–  Canned tuna, water only

–  Salmon

–  Sardines

–  Non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese

–  Egg whites

–  Beans

–  Lentils

For a healthy fix, try replacing fattier portions of your meal with a serving of any item listed above.  If it’s too bland, try spicing things up with a dash of red pepper flakes, ginger, or exotic spices.

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