Protein, Guys, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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The information below is an excerpt. Read the full article at Applying the New Protein Information from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a member-exclusive post that features an additional handout.

The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) send a special message to teenage boys and men: eat less meat, chicken, and eggs.

What’s a guy to do?

The answer lies in eating pattern shifts.

Meat, poultry, and eggs make up one subgroup of protein foods. The others are seafood; nuts, seeds, and soy products; and legumes (beans and peas), which count as protein foods or vegetables.

A healthy eating pattern includes a variety of protein foods, because each type provides different nutrients. For example, meat, poultry, and seafood are all good iron sources, but only seafood provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

The DGA’s Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern calls for 5.5-7.0 ounce-equivalents of protein foods per day for teen boys and men. This should consist of a variety of protein foods.

Teen boys and men can shift toward a healthy eating pattern by replacing some of the meat, poultry, and eggs they eat with other protein foods, as well as vegetables and legumes.

Here are some tips to help make those shifts:

  • Instead of a piece of meat or chicken with dinner, choose grilled fish twice a week.
  • Reduce the amount of beef in a burrito to make room for onions, peppers, beans, tomatoes, and lettuce.
  • Choose vegetable soup or vegetarian bean chili instead of soup made with meat or chicken.
  • Top a grilled chicken salad with unsalted walnuts or almonds.
  • Swap chicken salad with tuna salad.

By adding a variety of healthy protein foods to their diet, teen boys and men will move toward a healthy eating pattern and a healthy life. Eating patterns that are lower in meats, processed meats, and processed poultry are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Want to see more details? Don't miss the members-only post Applying the New Protein Information from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans -- it has tons of additional tips, a bar graph of the current eating habits of men and teenage boys, a discussion of ounce-equivalents, an exploration of the link between seafood and your health, a guide to healthier meat/poultry choices, and more! Plus, there's this great new handout!

Men Teens Protein

Of course, I wouldn't leave you hanging without a handout of your own! Here's a closer look at what we discussed today...

Guys and Protein

And here are some other healthy meal materials from the Nutrition Education Store...

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