Am I Getting Enough Protein?

Do you consume enough calories each day? Then odds are great you consume enough protein, too!

If you’ve been getting back to the gym and thinking about gaining muscle mass, or if you are keeping an eye on your weight these days, you might be questioning your protein intake.

If you are on a plant-based diet and think about these things, you might be REALLY questioning it!

I have some good news for you…

It’s really hard to be protein deficient if you’re eating enough calories, because most foods contains at least some amounts of protein, and the consensus on recommendations seems to be that 10-35% of your daily calorie intake comes from protein.

Now, I know that seems like a really broad range. That’s because protein recommendations vary greatly by age, sex, activity level, etc. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or trying to build muscle mass, you’ll find yourself on the upper end of that recommendation. For most of us, though, we probably consume more than we even need for daily activity and weight management.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that the average individual should consume…0.35 grams per pound of body weight per day for general health.

That means that if you’re 150lb and in average health, with moderate activity levels, you need approximately 53g of protein/day. If you’re 200lbs, you need about 70g. (Remember, these still vary!)

So, are you getting as much as you need? Let’s take a look at a standard “healthy” American day of meals:

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs (12g) + 1c spinach (3g) + whole wheat toast (10g)
  • Lunch: Salad (3g) + 1/2 c chickpeas (8g) + 1/4c almonds (8g)
  • Dinner: 1c whole wheat pasta (10g) + 1c peas (8g) + 1c broccoli (3g) + 3oz chicken (24g)
  • TOTAL: 89g

See?! More than the recommendations, and this does not include any snacks, or any milk or alternatives. Cow’s milk and soymilk are both 8g/cup. (I also didn’t include fruit, a healthy part of every day, just because the protein content is low – we eat fruit for lots of other important reasons!)

Well, what about plant-based diets? Let’s just make a couple swaps!

  • Breakfast: 6oz tofu (18g) + 1c spinach (3g) + whole wheat toast (10g)
  • Lunch: Salad (3g) + 1/2 c chickpeas (8g) + 1/4c almonds (8g)
  • Dinner: 1c whole wheat pasta (10g) + 1c peas (8g) + 1c broccoli (3g) + 1/2c lentils (9g)
  • TOTAL: 80g

Still above the daily recommendations for most adults, without snacks or milks! You can imagine how quickly those things add up…

A quick discussion on how all protein is not created equal, and why I emphasize increasing your protein intake from plant sources…
Animal Protein Sources are:
  • Typically higher in calories
  • Packaged with fat, saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, & sodium
  • Often treated with or exposed to antibiotics and hormones
  • Causes of cell oxidation and inflammation
  • In excess, stressful to the kidneys & liver
Plant Protein Sources are:
  • Typically lower in calories
  • Void of saturated fat & cholesterol
  • Packaged with fiber, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and a variety of other micro-nutrients
  • Full of antioxidants that reduce inflammation and repair cells
  • Of no strain to our organs

Now you can rest assured – you are getting plenty of protein! If you’re wondering about deficiency, though, we could chat about fiber… but I think that’s a conversation for another day…

Want to have more conversations about healthy diets?

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