Portions of Protein

We eat grilled steaks, baked salmon, and teriyaki tofu to add protein to our plates. Protein is part of a balanced diet, along with carbohydrates and fats. Answering the question, “What is going to be my protein source?” is often easier than deciding how much.

Most protein dietary recommendations are geared towards preventing deficiency rather than promoting optimal health. The most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that women consume about 67g of protein daily and men eat about 98 g. Those amounts might not be enough for all active people. Other research indicates that higher protein intake may be beneficial for a wide range of health outcomes.

Endurance athletes should aim for 0.55-0.60 grams per pound of bodyweight per day. That protein can come from nutrient dense, high quality protein sources like lean meats, fish, legumes and even complete plant sources, like quinoa and soy. For some it might be appropriate to turn to supplements, choosing high quality proteins like whey, casein, hemp or soy.

After a run, in about fifteen minutes you can make this basic bean burger. One third cup of beans provides about 5 grams of protein. That alone is not enough to meet your protein needs, but small additions throughout the day will work towards boosting your protein intake. An ideal post workout meals should contain protein and carbohydrates, so this is a useful recipe to whip up after a run. Turn this into a meal by adding veggies and some whole grain bread.

Bean Burger

  • ⅓ cup beans (black beans and pinto beans work well)
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup finely chopped vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, corn are great choices)
  • 1 tsp liquid (water, salsa, Worchester sauce, hot sauce)
  • sea salt and pepper
  • spices (be creative, consider adding cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic powder)
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mash the beans with a fork. The bottom a drinking glass also works well. 
  2. Form into a patty. A thinner patty cooks more thoroughly. 
  3. Cook for four minutes in a skillet over medium heat. 
  4. Flip over and cook for another four minutes. 
  5. Top with whatever additions taste good to you. (cheese, spinach, tomato, avocado)
Serves one.

Originally published in the West Hartford Fleet Feet newsletter, "The Extra Mile" (October 11, 2011, Issue #88)