Be Proactive and Eat Just the Right Amount of Protein5 years ago | Nutrition
By pH health care professionals
Protein seems to be one of those nutrients where people resort to extremes. Some people consume more protein than they need because they want to be strong and lean, while others aren’t getting quite enough because they haven’t fine-tuned their plant-based diet. High-protein diets are among some of the most popular for weight loss, but they may actually come with unwanted side effects like weight gain and greater risk of death in people with heart disease risk factors. But somewhere in the middle is a healthy, balanced protein diet that is just right for the average man or woman.
A healthy diet includes a balanced mix of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Proteins are important because they are a “part of every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies,” the CDC says. You need it to help your body repair cells and make new ones.
So, how much protein do you need?
- Babies: around 10 grams a day
- Toddlers: 13 grams
- School-aged children: 19-34 grams
- Teen boys: 52 grams a day
- Teen girls: 46 grams a day
- Adult men: 56 grams a day
- Adult women: 46 grams a day, or 71 if pregnant of breastfeeding
What are some good sources of protein?
A 3-ounce piece of meat has around 21 grams of protein, and a cup of milk has around 8 grams. Eight ounces of yogurt offers around 11 grams of protein, and a cup of dry beans has about 16 grams.
What’s the difference between “complete” and “incomplete” sources of protein?
Complete protein sources provide all of the essential amino acids you need, whereas incomplete protein sources are low in one or more of the essential amino acids. When consuming incomplete protein sources, you can combine multiple incomplete proteins to together make up a complete protein source. Complete proteins include meats, fish, chicken, eggs and cheese. Incomplete proteins include beans, rice, corn and tofu.
How can you be more proactive about your protein intake?
- Keep a food journal and log what you eat and the amounts, noting the protein in each meal. If needed, make adjustments to your protein intake. As a general rule, your serving of meat should be the size of the palm of your hand (this is around 3 ounces, which is 21 grams of protein).
- If you are vegetarian, make sure you are getting the protein you need from beans, nuts, nut butters, peas and soy products like tofu.
- Test, don’t guess. There are tests to determine whether you are getting too little or too much protein from your diet.
- Tailor your protein intake to your personal health and fitness goals. Start with the pH Body Composition Test to get a baseline. Measure on an ongoing basis to see if that increased protein really is helping you build muscle. See what’s working. Then you can adjust as needed and enjoy the fruit of your labor.
Enjoy Your Healthy Life!
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