Protein - How Much is Enough?
Protein is not just for great skin, hair, and nails; it's critical for health. Without it, you wouldn't be able to repair damage, digest food, fight infections, build muscle and bone, create hormones, or even think clearly and have good moods. Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein's great benefits for metabolism boosting, satiety (feeling full after a meal), and weight management.
Protein is important, and most of us don't eat enough.
There are a few factors to consider when calculating how much protein we need. I go through those calculations with you, then list the amount of protein in some common foods.
How much protein is enough
There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need specifically.
Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.8 g/kg of body weight (0.36 g/lb) per day.
So, for a 68 kg (150 lb) healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.
Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It's not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It's not enough for athletes, seniors or those recovering from an injury. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim for closer to 1.3 g/kg (0.6 g/lb) per day.
Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that's common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.
How much protein is too much?
As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its "thermic effect." The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories). More calories than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.
FUN FACT: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health and I’ve included a yummy recipe for a plant-based, protein rich treat below.
How much protein is in food?
● A 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g protein.
● A 3.5 oz can of salmon has 20 g protein.
● ½ cup cooked beans contain 6-9 g protein.
● A large egg contains 6 g protein.
● ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g protein.
● 1 medium baked potato contains 3 g protein.
● Complete Shake Powder contains 12.6 g plant-based protein.
Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. “Enough” is about 0.8 - 1.3 g/kg (0.36 - 0.6 g/lb) per day. If you're a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you're an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.
Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it's best to have just enough.
I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know and if you need support, send me a message, or schedule a free 15-minute nutritional assessment at by clicking HERE.
Recipe: BANANA BROWNIES
RECIPE CONTRIBUTOR: TRACY IRWIN
2 cups bananas (about 6 medium, over ripe bananas), mashed
1 cup smooth cashew butter (or sunflower, almond, or peanut butter)
1⁄2 cup chocolate Complete Shake Powder
1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Grease lightly an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.
3. Using a hand mixer (or by hand), mash the bananas with the peanut butter until fully combined. Stir in Complete and cocoa powder with a spatula.
4. Pour into a greased pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Brownies will be very moist.
5. Cool to room temperature, cut and enjoy!
Makes approximately 12-16 servings.