Protein is essential to good health. You need it to put meat on your bones and to make hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, organs, enzymes, and more. It’s common for athletes and bodybuilders to wolf down extra protein to bulk up. But the message the rest of us often get is that we’re eating too much protein or not the right type. So how much should we be eating? What kinds of proteins are out there? Hopefully after reading this blog you’ll have those questions answered.
How much protein should I be eating?
The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. The daily minimum recommended by the National Institutes of Health is 0.36 grams per pound for a sedentary person. However, if you do intense workouts or have a physically demanding job, you’ll need more. While the average healthy diet provides enough protein for most people, it may benefit you to bump up your intake if you exercise to build muscle or lose fat, either from dietary protein or supplements. On the other hand, if your goal is to lose weight, increasing the protein in your diet can help you lose more fat and preserve more lean mass, which explains the popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets. But it’s also important to save room in your diet for other crucial nutrients. Make sure you’re eating enough fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to keep your body energized and operating at peak performance. Everyone is different, so experiment to find the right level of protein for your body. Start with the number derived from the NIH formula and see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well.
What proteins are available?
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein. There are 20 different amino acids in all, and different proteins provide different combinations of amino acids in varying ratios. Since each high-protein food contains a different amino-acid profile, it’s important to eat a range of protein sources. In other words, don’t just eat chicken breast five times a day. Great protein sources include:
23 g of protein per 3 oz serving
leaner cuts of steak provide a fantastic 1 g of protein for every 7 calories; rib eye, on the other hand, delivers roughly 1 g of protein for every 11 calories.
23 g of protein per 8oz serving
Made by straining away the liquid, deliciously thick Greek-style yogurts contain about twice as much protein as regular versions. You'll also reap the rewards of gut-friendly probiotic bacteria and bone-building calcium. Try to grab the non flavored types as flavorings can almost triple the sugar content.
Ground Beef (95% lean)
18 g of protein per 3 oz serving
90% ground beef provides just the right amount of fat so your burgers and such don’t taste like the desert. Not only is it a great source of protein but also creatine. If you can afford it try to go for a grass fed option due to the higher nutrient density.
Chicken Breast (Boneless, Skinless)
24 g of protein per 3 oz serving
Out of any other poultry cuts this little bird packs the most punch in the protein category.
13 g of protein per 1/4c serving
Inexpensive and quite plentiful these little lentils are a sure-fire way to up your protein intake.
12 g of protein per 3 oz serving
If you don’t eat meat or are simply tired of it there still hope for your protein dreams! Tofu can make sure you continue to meet your protein goals through its high soy content which is a great plant protein.
25 g of protein per 3 oz serving
Delivers a ton of easily digested, premium-quality protein. You’ll also benefit from the healthy amount of B vitamins and the potent antioxidant selenium in its flesh.
8 g of protein per 1 cup serving
Among whole grains, South American quinoa is a rarity in that it contains a full arsenal of essential amino acids, meaning that it's a complete protein with muscle-making potential.