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August 9, 2011 at 9:19 AMComments: 8 Faves: 1

Protein: How Much You Need And How to Get It

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

While all calories provide us with energy, protein packs a powerful punch - providing us with the satiety to help hold us over until our next meal. In fact,  one small study found a protein rich breakfast may help stave off hunger pains and cravings longer than one packed with carbohydrates alone. This is why many dietitians encourage clients to enjoy walnuts or yogurt on their oatmeal instead of brown sugar and dried fruit and the same would go for a hearty meat or soy protein based pasta sauce in place of a tomato sauce alone.

What IS protein?

Did you know protein is found in our muscles, hair, nails, and skin? This is because the protein and amino acids they are composed of are needed for continuous building and repairing of the tissues in our body. It is also interesting to note that our body is not able to store protein for later use. The excess calories are converted to fat instead. Merely one of many reasons we must include protein-rich foods in our diet each and every day.

Protein is one of the three macronutrients our body needs to stay healthy. The other two are carbohydrates and fats. Our bodies use protein to build muscle, strengthen our immune system and to help provide our body with the fuel it needs to maintain our energy levels. Because they take longer to digest and thus provide us with a more sustained release of energy, protein-rich foods (meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, beans, seeds) help us feel more satisfied than carbohydrates alone.

How much protein do I need?

The recommended amount of protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.4 grams protein per pound of body weight. This is 60 grams of protein per day if you weigh 150 pounds. Perhaps an easier way to view the calculation is to divide your weight in pounds in half and subtract 10. Most of us fall somewhere within the range of 45-60 grams per day.  I recommend 10 and 15 grams per meal. 

Rather than tallying up grams of protein,  it is easier for some people prefer to consider the actual ounces of protein foods served. The average adult only needs about 6 oz of meat or protein equivalent daily.  We only need 1-2 ounces of protein at each meal, leaving room for one or two protein-rich snacks.

Stay tuned for fresh, protein-packed breakfast options!

Now it's your turn, what are your favorite protein-rich foods that help you keep up with your hectic schedule? 

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8 Comments

  • Mmm... my FAVORITE protein - that's a tough one!

    I had some incredible tofu last night at a Thai restaurant. I love beans - hummus.... *salivate*

    BUT, I think I'd have to say seafood - and if I had to pick a favorite type - probably scallops - big juicy ones! It's a really tough call though - salmon sushi is just about tied in my mind and tastebuds.

  • My favorite protein is chicken. It's easy to cook and you there are so many different ways to cook it. During the summer, I love to grill it! But baking it is easiest for me. That way I can go off and do other things while I wait for dinner to be ready. :)

  • @Erin, hummus is one of my favorites as well :) If you are ever in Grand Haven, you NEED to visit the Kirby Grille and order their Hummus Platter. Delicious! Scallops is a more unusual pick, good for you! This is something I have not really gotten into myself, but I have heard wonderful things :)

    @Bri, you are absolutely right. There are at least 1 million + one ways to cook chicken, though truly the same can be said of beef or tofu. Chicken has simply hit the mainstream and it seems as though every magazine or cooking show highlights a tasty new recipe for whipping up a tasty meal with a chicken breast. I'm a baker as well, though in the summer we MUST use the grill to avoid overheating the house ;)

  • I discovered recently while reading a book my Doctor suggested that non-fat cottage cheese is high in protein and I have even started to eat it for breakfast once in a while. I like to add onions to add flavor for taste. Also my Arby's Roast Beef sandwich I had for lunch today totaled 22 gm of protein which is great!

  • @Nancy, you are spot on! Fat-free cottage cheese is a great protein source and growing up, it was a breakfast staple in our home when paired with sliced pears or jam. My mom enjoys cottage cheese heated as the cheese becomes very hearty upon melting. Enjoy!

  • I enjoy a nice pile of cottage cheese with a teaspoon of apple butter on top. The smooth/creamy with the tangy/spicy is awesome.

    Jessica, does the 0.8 grams protein per kg hold even for larger people, or does it have a cap?

  • I like all proteins! Especially love protein shakes.

  • @Garchow, glad you're a fan of protein! Hope you're getting in your fruits and veggies, too? I have long been skeptical of protein shakes due to the chemical additives and soy protein isolates... though I must admit I am excited to see plant based, soy free versions increasingly available. Many made with pea proteins - very interesting!

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