#AskAmany tells us about the pros in protein
The Pros in Protein
One of the most popular questions I get asked, whether it’s by my patients or by friends and fellow athletes is: how much protein should I eat per day? I feel like there’s been a movement towards “more protein and less everything else” mentality. There is a place for protein in our diet, and that I can attest to. However, there is a certain amount that is considered appropriate at one sitting.
What is that magic number? The jury is still out.
There is some solid research that up to 25-30 grams per meal is the most the body can metabolize at once (we’ll talk about the amount of protein found in the foods we eat in a little bit). That doesn’t mean that you should be eating that much per meal, just that the research states that body can’t do much with protein after about 30 grams. There is also an appropriate amount of total protein to eat per day, using body weight to calculate your personal needs. If you’re not active, the recommendations are 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (to calculate kilograms from pounds, take your current weight and divide it by 2.2); if you’re light to moderately active, 1 gram per kilogram; and if you’re trying to build muscle, you can bump it up to 1.3-1.5 grams per kilogram. With all of this being said, if you plan to increase your protein intake, make sure to also cut down (NOT ELIMINATE) the portions of the carbohydrates and fat in your diet.
How much protein is in the foods typical in the diet? Remember that you can get protein in your diet from both meat and non-meat options. Here’s a general idea of the amount of protein in foods that we typically eat:
3 ounces of beef/pork/chicken/turkey/lamb (about the size of a deck of cards): 24-26 grams
3 ounces of fish: 20-22 grams
½ cup tofu: 10 grams
1 egg: 6 grams
1 ounce of cheese (a pair of dice): 6-7 grams
1 cup of milk: 8-10 grams
1 cup of Greek yogurt: 24 grams
½ cup of beans: 6-8 grams
1 ounce of almonds (23-25 almonds): 6 grams
2 tablespoons of nut butter: 8-9 ounces
1 cup cooked oatmeal: 6-8 grams
As you can see, there are lots of ways to get protein in the diet. My last tip is to encourage you to include protein at all of your meals, including snacks. Going to have some grapes? Include an ounce of cheese with it. Aiming for some popcorn? Have it with a serving of nuts. Protein does help stabilize blood sugar levels and helps keep us feeling full for a longer period of time, which is why I encourage you to include it at all meals. Read your labels and find the surprising ways that protein is in the foods that you’re already eating!
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