Talking Turkey

Of course, no Thanksgiving is complete without turkey. The smell of it cooking all day long is downright mouthwatering, and it makes a gorgeous centerpiece when it comes out of the oven roasted to golden brown perfection. But what I like best about turkey is that it makes protein the focus of the Thanksgiving meal.

Your body craves protein, and it’s one craving you can–and should–freely indulge. That’s why the Cabbage Diet, the Cookie Diet, and all those other “skip-the-protein” diets just don’t work. Your body needs protein and healthy fats, or you’ll always be hungry!

Protein activates glucagon, the hormone that helps you lose weight, build lean muscle mass, stabilize energy levels, and control hunger.

In fact, when you eat enough protein, you eat fewer calories overall.  That’s the finding from a study that appeared recently in the Public Library of Science (PloS) online edition.

Researchers from Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain examined protein’s role in driving food intake. The researchers recruited 22 lean adults, and studied their eating habits over three four-day periods. Each participant was given a fixed menu that varied every day, with 10, 15 or 25 percent protein. They had open access to multiple additional foods during the day, and researchers tracked what they ate.

When they got less than 15 percent protein, the participants tended to eat more carbohydrates and fatty foods, which sets the pattern for obesity. They also scored “high” on the researchers’ hunger scale.

The researchers believe that when protein and fat are restricted, there is a natural tendency to keep eating to satisfy that need. The problem is, in a world full of bad food options, it’s all too easy to make the wrong choices.

But when you’ve got diabetes, prediabetes, or any sort of blood sugar disorder, it’s especially important to make sure you’re getting enough protein, since it’s an essential part of regulating the insulin response.

So, consider this your open invitation to eat protein with every meal. And today, especially, take advantage of the wonderful protein source sitting in front of you, and load your plate with that delicious Thanksgiving turkey.