How to eat a balanced diet and limit calories at the same time.

Protein Group

This grouping contains foods rich in protein, including meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts and legumes. They supply the amino acids needed to build the tissues of the body—most famously, muscle tissue. Note, too, that a little protein added to a meal can really make it more satisfying, so if you’re having trouble with between-meal hunger pangs, try to incorporate a portion of protein into each meal: a tablespoon of chopped almonds on your morning oatmeal, some shredded chicken breast on your lunch salad, and a cup of bean soup at dinner, for example.

Fat is very energy-dense, so lean protein sources are your best bet to keep calories low. Trim skin from poultry and choose lean meat cuts like the various types of loin and sirloin. The only exception to the “lean is better” rule is with fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, because the fat they contain is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. That’s why the American Heart Association recommends getting two 3-ounce servings of fish per week—“preferably fatty fish.” Also, try to include some vegetable sources of protein in your diet regularly, to get a good dose of fiber along with your protein. Beans and soyfoods like tofu, tempeh and meat substitutes are terrific. Nuts are excellent protein sources, but quite high in calories, so pay attention to the relatively small size of a single serving: just 2 tablespoons peanut butter, and a small handful of nuts (14 almonds), for example.

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