One of my favorite healthy living authors and podcasters Gretchen Rubin talks about how the return of fall and the beginning of the school year feels like a fresh start, a time to refocus on creating healthy habits.

I’ve started setting 30-day challenges for myself after listening to a fun TED talk about the benefits. This September, I’m trying to reach my step-count goal on my fitness watch every day while the weather is perfect for walking.

I’ve also mentioned before about how I was inspired by the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s 30-Day Protein Challenge to boost my protein intake in the mornings and at snack time.

And I have to say, this is one dietary change that I’ve stuck with beyond the 30 days. I eat eggs most mornings for breakfast; yogurt, string cheese and nuts for snacks.

A new study showing that lean beef can help in weight loss and weight management also caught my attention as I aim to eat healthier this fall.

In summary, the Beef WISE study found that people who consumed lean beef four or more times a week as part of a healthy, higher-protein diet and in combination with exercise lost equal amounts of body fat, while preserving muscle, compared to people who were restricted from eating red meat.

The participants who ate beef also showed improvements in their total and LDL cholesterol and blood pressure metrics, indicating that lean beef didn’t negatively affect their heart health. So if you’re looking to lose weight, beef can be part of your diet. High-quality proteins, like beef, can help satisfy hunger and maintain muscle.

Beef is also a good source of zinc, iron and B vitamins, nutrients that help boost our immune system and give us energy as we approach cold and flu season.

I plan to stick with a higher-protein diet, including lean beef, pork and low-fat dairy, to maintain muscle and keep me fueled for my next 30-day challenge and beyond.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's senior features writer.