rethink your protein

Build Healthy Habits By Rethinking Your Protein!

Improve your diet by making a few small changes over the next six weeks!

foods high in protein

How the challenge works:

  • Register today.
  • The challenge runs from Aug. 15 to Sep. 23.
  • Share the event to encourage others to join the challenge.
  • Take the weekly survey to track your progress.
  • See how others are rethinking their protein at the bottom of this page.

bowl of healthy foods

You may benefit by:

  • Finding new foods you enjoy
  • Adding different nutrients to your diet
  • Making changes that help you manage your weight
  • Lowering some health risks
  • Supporting heart health
  • Improving digestive health

How to rethink your protein:

Learn what healthy sources of protein are.

It’s a common misconception that meat is the only way to add protein to your diet. However, the protein group includes seafood, poultry, meat, eggs, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy products.

There are many plant-based sources of protein that are readily available at your local grocery store. These foods are also high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. During your next shopping trip, pick up some:

  • Broccoli
  • Chickpeas
  • Nut butter
  • Quinoa
  • Tempeh

Week 1

Week one of the Rethink Your Protein Challenge is all about making small changes that deliver big results. This week, try a few of these healthier protein sources based on advice from the American Heart Association:

  • Plant-based proteins like beans, peas, spinach, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Fish and seafood
  • Nonfat and low-fat products instead of full-fat versions
  • Lean and unprocessed meat and poultry
What ARE protein foods and why are they important in our diets? Do you know how much protein you need? Why does variety matter? Check out MyPlate Protein Foods for answers to these questions and more.


Week 2

When you eat meat, what size are your portions? If larger than a deck of cards, your portion may be larger than recommended.

During week two of the LiveWell Frederick Rethink Your Protein Challenge, we highlight why your portions size and your choice of meat matters.

Use this helpful infographic from the American Heart Association to visualize healthy portions—3 ounces each—of common protein foods.

In addition to limiting your serving size, avoid processed meats. Choose skinless poultry or fish over red meat (such as beef, pork, or lamb), which contains unhealthy fat. Saturated fats can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. Discover more tips on choosing healthy meats in this video.

Note: Eating a lot of meat is not a healthy way to lose weight, especially if you have or are at risk for heart disease.


Week 3

You’re halfway through the LiveWell Frederick Rethink Your Protein Challenge! Check out these tips for each meal if you’re looking for more ways to fit healthier proteins into your diet.

  • Breakfast
    • Add beans to breakfast tacos, scrambled eggs, or a veggie omelet.
    • Replace bacon and sausage with low-sodium, nitrate-free turkey or veggie bacon.
    • Stir nuts or low-fat yogurt into cooked cereal.
  • Lunch
    • Use leftover chicken or turkey for sandwiches or salad.
    • Have a bowl of bean or lentil soup with added veggies.
    • Prepare a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread. Swap some of the mayo with avocado.
  • Dinner
    • Bake fish filets with lemon and salt-free seasonings, or wrap in foil with lemon and onion slices
    • Top salad with beans, nuts, fish, or skinless chicken.
    • Make black bean burgers or garbanzo bean burgers.
    • Try this easy and delicious Sheet Pan Baked Chicken Breast with Veggies recipe.

If you don’t eat meat:One cup of cooked beans, peas, lentils, or tofu can replace a 2-ounce serving of meat, poultry, or fish. Two ounces of peanut butter counts as one ounce of meat.

If you don’t like fishYou might need a little nudge out of your comfort zone. This video has some nice tricks to pack more flavor and make fish tastier.

Week 4

Revamp Your Grocery List

Shopping for healthier proteins doesn’t have to be confusing. On week 4 of the LiveWell Frederick Rethink Your Protein Challenge, we share tips to make your grocery trip a success.

  • Use dried or canned legumes. Dried lentils cook quickly, while dried beans and peas take more time. If choosing canned, look for no- or low-sodium varieties, and rinse before using. Our partner, the Common Market Co-Op, sells items like these in bulk, helping you save.
  • Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish high in this essential nutrient includes mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon. Low-sodium canned fish are also a healthy choice.
  • Choose meat with the least amount of visible fat. Buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime.” Choose lean or extra-lean ground meat with no more than 15% fat.  Cuts contain the words “round,” “loin,” or “sirloin” on the package.
  • Minimize processed meats. Processed meats include deli slices, bacon, ham, salami, sausages, hot dogs, and jerky.
  • Read labels. Choose poultry without added fat or broth.
  • Look for the Heart-Check mark on food labels. These products align with the American Heart Association’s healthy eating recommendations.

Week 5

Meatless Mondays

For many Americans, meat is central to our diet. But overeating processed or red meats can harm your health. Going meatless one day per week is an excellent way to start a healthy habit.

Meatless Monday isn’t a new concept; it began more than a century ago. Check out this video for an interesting history lesson!

Think of some of your favorite meat-based meals or snacks. Chances are, there’s a tasty meatless alternative. Start with this handy plant-based grocery list to plan your meatless Monday. You might even discover some new favorite meals along the way.

Week 6

Prep Your Proteins

Almost there! It’s the final week of the Rethink Your Protein Challenge. We hope you found new healthy habits along the way.

Set yourself up for success post-challenge with these tips:

  • Build a solid foundation for your diet. Be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, and fruits. Include smaller portions of fish*, low-fat or nonfat dairy, or lean, unprocessed meats. Opt for cooking methods like baking, broiling, stewing, and roasting.
  • Trim the fat. When preparing meat, trim off visible fat or poultry skin before cooking and pour off the melted fat after cooking. Chill the remaining meat juice leftover after cooking for delicious stews, soups, and gravy.
  • Get creative! Spice it up. Give any protein flavor with salt-free spices and herbs, garlic, and onion.
This week, get meal prep inspiration with these five easy, healthy, and tasty recipes—like burrito bowls and garlic chicken veggie pasta.

*Some types of fish contain high levels of mercury or other environmental contaminants. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or nursing, as well as young children, should check the latest advisories from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Enhance your diet and improve your well-being by building healthy habits!