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Living Well : Nutrition

All About Protein

All bodies need protein—and there are smart, calorie-conscious ways to include it in your daily diet

WHY PROTEIN?

We hear about protein all the time. What is the fuss about? Why is protein important?

Proteins are the building blocks of life. After water, protein is the most common substance in your body and is found in all cells of the body. Proteins have many functions, such as:

  • Building muscle and other body tissues
  • Carrying oxygen in the blood
  • Regulating blood sugar levels

SOURCES OF PROTEIN

Proteins are made of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are called the essential amino acids. The body cannot make protein unless it gets the essential amino acids from food.

You may have heard about high-quality and low-quality proteins. High-quality proteins contain all of the essential amino acids, low-quality proteins are missing one or more essential amino acids. Meat and dairy products have high-quality protein and contain all 9 of the essential amino acids. Most plant proteins are missing one or more essential amino acids—still, the right mix of plant sources can give you all the protein you need.

Eating a variety of legumes and grains provides high-quality protein. Legumes include dried peas and beans (such as black-eyed peas), chick peas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, and soybeans. Soy protein has the same nutritional value as meat and dairy protein. Nuts also are in this category, but are high in fat and may trigger allergic reactions. Consult with your healthcare provider, and eat nuts in moderation.

Protein rarely exists alone (except in egg whites); protein-rich foods often contain fat. Protein contains 4 calories per gram. For example, 1 oz (28 g) of lean meat contains about 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat (a total of 55 calories). Protein-rich foods with higher fat content may have 70 to 120 calories and 5 to 10 grams of fat per ounce.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED?

Protein is very important. Most people get the majority of their protein from the meat and beans group, which includes meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. Meat, poultry, and fish are good sources of protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Dry beans, eggs, and nuts also provide most vitamins and minerals.
It is recommended that 10% to 35% of the calories you eat come from protein; this adds up to around 50 to 175 grams of protein per day for adults. Women are recommended to eat 5 to 5½ oz of meat or the equivalent each day; men are recommended to eat 5½ to 6½ oz daily. In the Protein Foods Group, 1 oz of meat counts as equivalent to 1 oz of poultry or fish, 1/4 cup of cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or 1/2 oz of nuts or seeds.

CHOOSING AND COOKING FOODS WITH PROTEIN

Most people get their protein from animal products, such as dairy, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. However, these foods may be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. These tips may help reduce fat in your diet:

  • Choose lean meat, fish, poultry without skin, and dried beans and peas. These food choices are low in dietary fat
  • Prepare meats in low-fat ways: trim away the fat and avoid frying
  • Eat eggs in moderation. Egg yolks are high in cholesterol. You may want to use one yolk per person in egg dishes and add extra egg whites to make larger portions
  • When cooking beef or steak, choose round, loin, sirloin, or chuck
  • For pork, choose tenderloin, center loin, or ham
  • For veal, all cuts are lean except ground veal
  • For lamb, choose leg, loin, or foreshank
  • Fish and shellfish are low in fat. Avoid those that are canned or marinated in oil
  • For chicken and turkey, both light and dark meats are lean choices if you remove the skin

PROTEIN FOR VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS

Vegetarian and vegan diets can provide plenty of protein, but may require more planning.

Nuts, beans, and soy are good sources of protein. Tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and meat-replacements can be substituted for meat, poultry, and fish. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain protein.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan and have trouble getting enough protein, we suggest consulting with a registered dietitian who can help you plan your diet to meet your nutritional needs.

NUTS: A RICH SOURCE OF PROTEIN

Nuts are rich in many nutrients, such as protein and dietary fiber. Eating nuts may help you feel full and bring you closer to your weight-loss goal. 

Nuts also have many health benefits, such as:

  • Decreasing the risk of heart disease
  • Improving the health of your arteries
  • Lowering your LDL (low-density lipoprotein or "bad," cholesterol)

Nuts can be an important part of a healthy diet and can also make a great portable snack! However, don’t go nuts over nuts—they are high in calories and fat. So, eat nuts in moderation.

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INDICATION

Qsymia® should be used together with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) of:

  • 30 kg/m2 or greater (obese) or
  • 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) in the presence of at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol

Limitations of Use:

  • It is not known if Qsymia changes your risk of heart problems or stroke or of death due to heart problems or stroke
  • It is not known if Qsymia is safe and effective when taken with other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight loss products

It is not known if Qsymia is safe and effective in children under 18 years old

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Do not take Qsymia if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or become pregnant during Qsymia treatment; have glaucoma; have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism); are taking certain medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken MAOIs in the past 14 days; are allergic to topiramate, sympathomimetic amines such as phentermine, or any of the ingredients in Qsymia. See the end of the Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in Qsymia.

Qsymia can cause serious side effects, including:

Birth defects (cleft lip/cleft palate). If you take Qsymia during pregnancy, your baby has a higher risk for birth defects called cleft lip and cleft palate. These defects can begin early in pregnancy, even before you know you are pregnant. Women who are pregnant must not take Qsymia. Women who can become pregnant should have a negative pregnancy test before taking Qsymia and every month while taking Qsymia and use effective birth control (contraception) consistently while taking Qsymia. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to prevent pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Qsymia, stop taking Qsymia immediately, and tell your healthcare provider right away. Healthcare providers and patients should report all cases of pregnancy to FDA MedWatch at 1-800-FDA-1088, and the Qsymia Pregnancy Surveillance Program at 1-888-998-4887.

Increases in heart rate. Qsymia can increase your heart rate at rest. Your healthcare provider should check your heart rate while you take Qsymia. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience, while at rest, a racing or pounding feeling in your chest lasting several minutes when taking Qsymia.

Suicidal thoughts or actions. Topiramate, an ingredient in Qsymia, may cause you to have suicidal thoughts or actions. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you: thoughts about suicide or dying; attempts to commit suicide; new or worse depression; new or worse anxiety; feeling agitated or restless; panic attacks; trouble sleeping (insomnia); new or worse irritability; acting aggressive, being angry, or violent; acting on dangerous impulses; an extreme increase in activity or talking (mania); other unusual changes in behavior or mood.

Serious eye problems, which include any sudden decrease in vision, with or without eye pain and redness or a blockage of fluid in the eye causing increased pressure in the eye (secondary angle closure glaucoma). These problems can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new eye symptoms.

Possible side effects of Qsymia include:

Mood changes and trouble sleeping. Qsymia may cause depression or mood problems, and trouble sleeping. Tell your healthcare provider if symptoms occur.

Concentration, memory, and speech difficulties. Qsymia may affect how you think and cause confusion, problems with concentration, attention, memory or speech. Tell your healthcare provider if symptoms occur.

Increases of acid in bloodstream (metabolic acidosis). If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can cause brittle or soft bones (osteoporosis, osteomalacia, osteopenia), kidney stones, can slow the rate of growth in children, and may possibly harm your baby if you are pregnant. Metabolic acidosis can happen with or without symptoms. Sometimes people with metabolic acidosis will: feel tired, not feel hungry (loss of appetite), feel changes in heartbeat, or have trouble thinking clearly. Your healthcare provider should do a blood test to measure the level of acid in your blood before and during your treatment with Qsymia.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus who also take medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. Weight loss can cause low blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus who also take medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (such as insulin or sulfonylureas). You should check your blood sugar before you start taking Qsymia and while you take Qsymia.

High blood pressure medicines. If you are taking medicines for your blood pressure, your doctor may need to adjust these medicines while taking Qsymia.

Central Nervous System (CNS) side effects. The use of prescription sleep aids, anxiety medicines, or drinking alcohol with Qsymia may cause an increase in CNS symptoms such as dizziness and light-headedness. Do not drink alcohol with Qsymia.

Possible seizures if you stop taking Qsymia too fast. Seizures may happen in people who may or may not have had seizures in the past if you stop Qsymia too fast. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to stop taking Qsymia slowly.

Kidney stones. Drink plenty of fluids when taking Qsymia to help decrease your chances of getting kidney stones. If you get severe side or back pain, and/or blood in your urine, call your healthcare provider.

Decreased sweating and increased body temperature (fever). People should be watched for signs of decreased sweating and fever, especially in hot temperatures. Some people may need to be hospitalized for this condition.

Common side effects of Qsymia include:

Numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or face (paraesthesia); dizziness; changes in the way foods taste or loss of taste (dysgeusia); trouble sleeping (insomnia); constipation; and dry mouth.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all of the possible side effects of Qsymia. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to VIVUS, Inc. at 1-888-998-4887 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Please read the Qsymia Medication Guide and Full Prescribing Information.

The Q and Me Patient Resources and Education site is based on the LEARN® Program provided under copyright license (September 15, 2010). All rights reserved.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Do not take Qsymia if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or become pregnant during Qsymia treatment; have glaucoma; have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism); are taking certain medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken MAOIs in the past 14 days; are allergic to topiramate, sympathomimetic amines such as phentermine, or any of the ingredients in Qsymia. See the end of the Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in Qsymia.

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