Protein-packed diets are in the midst of a super-moment. The Paleo diet, with its lean meat and fish, has taken over Facebook feeds everywhere, and few of us have forgotten the bacon-filled glory of the Atkins diet. Is this how we should all be eating?
It's true that the right amount of protein—about 68 grams a day for a 150-pound woman—helps build lean muscle, revs your metabolism, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. That said, "Your body can only use about 30 grams at once. Anything more will get burned off as energy or stored as fat, " notes registered dietitian nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth, author of Eating in Color. Too much protein could also stress your kidneys and increase your risk for fractures. Even scarier: Two recent studies linked high- protein diets to cancer.
The key, as in so many things, is balance. Mixing more beans, nuts, and whole grains into your routine gets you fiber and antioxidants, and variety limits exposure to saturated fat in beef or heavy metals in fish. Plus, eating the same grilled chicken every single day is so much fun!, said no one ever. Here, a week's worth of smart eating.