Truck Stop Proteins
March 8, 2021
By Casey Hayes, RDN
Proteins... What are they really?
Proteins are one of the three nutrients your body fuels with each day. In the nutrition world, we call these fuels MACROS. These macros are Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats.
Proteins are mainly animal meats, but they can also be found in small amounts in vegetables like nuts, seeds, beans, and peas. Proteins can also be found in cheese, dairy, and eggs because milk and eggs come from animals.
Proteins are essential to your diet because they help you build muscle, repair tissues in your body, make enzymes and hormones. They also build new hair, nails, skin, bones, and blood. Nobody wants to be lacking hormones and hair, right?
Proteins are kind of like the alternator on your truck. It powers your body (like recharging the battery) and recharges and repairs the other electrical components (like building muscle, skin, blood, etc.). Your truck wouldn’t run long if you disconnected your alternator. You would even have a rough time starting each morning without it.
So, what kind of proteins can you find at truck stops?
- Dried meats and jerky. Just watch for high sodium levels that can be bad for high blood pressure and high added sugar, leading to diabetes. Also, watch for nitrites, nitrates, and preservatives that can lead to other health problems. (High blood pressure is like having too high of a current running through your alternator. It will eventually burn out your electrics.)
- Nuts and seeds. They come in all kinds of tasty flavors and plenty of varieties. But make sure you watch for high sodium and sugar.
- Hard-boiled eggs. Eggs also come from animals and are a great source of protein. They contain healthy forms of cholesterol for hormones and brain health. They also contain choline which is essential to muscles, mood, and memories, and also feeds your brain.
- Fresh meats. Fresh meats and cheeses can be found at truck stops in sandwiches, wraps, and packs of loose meat and cheese.
- Cheese sticks or single-serve sizes of cheese.
- Protein powders and drinks. Watch these for excessive added sugar.
How much protein should you eat?
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight or your weight divided by 3( in grams). That is the minimum amount. So if you weigh 180 pounds… 180 divided by 3 = 60 grams per day, minimum. Some dietitians recommend a little higher...roughly 80-150 grams a day. This is especially true if you build muscle, heal any injuries, or cut carbs for diabetes, pre-diabetes, or insulin resistance.
When buying proteins at truck stops, remember that they can be expensive when sold in single portions. Try to buy these items at a grocery store or warehouse stores where they will be cheaper per ounce, since you are buying in larger quantities.
Again, watch for excess added sugars and salts. You don’t want the current load in your alternator at too high a charge, burning out your electrical lines… Your Veins!
Lastly, watch how much you are eating, and limit intake to 80-150 grams per day. That is 25-30 grams per meal, plus some in your snacks.
Keep your body charged each day to run more efficiently, and keep those power lines running at max efficiency!
Here's to eating protein confidently... One Mile at a Time.
Casey Hayes is a registered dietitian nutritionist and is a wife, mother, and sister-in-law to a truck driver. She has worked the last 11 years on a wholesale warehouse dock while achieving her degree as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. You can find her at www.CaseyHayesRDN.com and testing recipes in her 12-volt appliances or finding better food to eat on the road. Her passion is to help truckers choose healthier food on the road…One Mile at a Time.