When you need a physical boost, especially after an intense round of exercise, try eating some protein. As a building block for our muscles, eyes, teeth, skin, blood, nerves, lungs, brain, hair and nails, protein is a crucial element for strong, healthy bodies. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett reminds us that eating protein after a workout helps your muscles re-energize faster, too.
The recommended daily allowance of protein for a 150 lb woman is about 55 grams per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pregnant women and those who engage in endurance training should consult their doctors for their ideal protein intake.
Traditional sources of protein for those of us in the United States have largely been from animal sources: beef, chicken, pork, fish and eggs. But meatless protein sources are just as good – or even better – for our bodies. Try some of these:
Quinoa – Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is said to be the oldest grain in the world, dating back more than 5,000 years. It cooks like rice: boil it in a pot or make it in a rice cooker; you can substitute broth for water for a heartier flavor. Make it lively by adding sautéed onions, garlic, peas or spinach before serving. Reheat it fried-rice style or eat it chilled on salads. Find quinoa in boxes or bags in the natural foods section of your grocery story or buy it in bulk at stores that sell organic foods. 1 cup cooked quinoa = 18 grams protein and 9 grams fiber.
Lentils – Cook orange, yellow or green lentils in a pressure cooker with onions, garlic, red pepper, carrots, broth, curry powder, salt and cumin. In about 15 minutes you’ll have a pot full of delicious and protein-rich curry – and easy clean-up. 1 cup cooked lentils = 18 grams protein.
Legumes (Beans) – It’s easy to incorporate beans into your diet. Try veggie chili with red kidney beans, black beans or even garbanzo beans. Canned beans are fine and make for quicker cooking. Eat chickpeas in falafel or hummus. On a warm day, top a cool, refreshing salad with beans. 1 cup kidney beans = 16 grams protein.
Go Nuts – Nuts can be one of the most powerful sources of protein aside from meat. They’re delicious and highly portable – easy to eat at your desk or on the go. Pack a handful of almonds, cashews or walnuts for long drives, an after-workout snack or a between meals pick-you-up. 1 cup almonds = 30 grams protein; 1 cup cashews = 20 grams.
Cottage Cheese – Cottage cheese is a protein champion. Liven it up by mixing in pineapple chunks, a little granola or berries. 1 cup low fat cottage cheese = 30 grams protein.
Have fun experimenting with alternate sources of protein. And as always, the key to a healthy body is a combination of a balanced diet and exercise.
Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. She has advanced the business opportunities of women and men in the fitness industry by growing the program into an international franchise business that today, hosts a network of 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries.
The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, cardio box and Latin style movements, has positively affected millions of people worldwide. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor. Additional Jazzercise programs include Junior Jazzercise, Jazzercise Lite and Personal Touch. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.