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Essential Health offers advice on shedding holiday pounds

With the start of a new year and perhaps a new diet, many are wondering what they can do to shed those holiday pounds.

Some people turn to protein supplements to speed up their weight loss efforts. However, you may wonder whether the supplement is worth the cost or if you should eat whole foods, naturally high in protein instead.

We asked an Essentia Health dietitian for her opinion about protein supplements for getting to a healthy weight.

"For weight loss, adequate protein intake is important for optimal metabolism, to keep you satisfied between meals, and to build muscle," said registered dietitian Stephanie Fennessey. "Whole food sources of protein are typically recommended over supplements. However, when whole food protein sources are not available or convenient, protein supplements with high-quality ingredients may serve as a practical alternative."

If you're looking for a protein powder, Fennessey recommends choosing a supplement from a reputable manufacturer and following the instructions on the label. You should look for whey and casein supplements because they contain favorable levels of essential amino acids.

In general, quality protein sources should be consumed throughout the day, and after a workout. Foods naturally high in protein include eggs, milk, chicken, fish, beans, seeds and nuts to name a few.

If you have more questions about your diet or would like a personalized nutrition plan, contact your local Essentia Health clinic or hospital to set up an appointment with a registered dietitian.