Are You Getting Enough Protein? The Answer May Surprise You

Protein is a major component of a healthy diet. If you don’t get enough it can lead to weakness, fatigue, and poor muscle strength, just to name a few. Many people often worry that they’re not getting adequate protein in their diets, but in actuality, the answer may surprise you.

How Much Is Enough?

According to the National Institutes of Health, most people require anywhere from 50 to 65 grams of protein per day. Surprisingly, many Americans are actually getting too much protein in their daily diets. The average person eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) consumes about 70 to 100 grams of protein a day. So depending on your diet, you may be getting even more protein than you bargained for. And more is better, right? Wrong. Excess protein eaten on a constant basis can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, and even arthritis.

To find out how much protein is enough for you, you need to do a few simple calculations. Your requirement of protein is based on your weight: 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To find your weight in kilograms simply divide by 2.2. For example, if you were 150 lbs., your weight in kilograms would equal approximately 68. Next multiply 68 x 0.8 = 54.4. Your protein requirement is 54.4 grams per day.

But What if You’re a Vegan or Vegetarian?

This question invariably comes up if you’re discussing protein and diet. People are often curious about eating a plant-based diet and not getting enough protein. Rest assured, there is no need to worry.

Believe it or not, protein is found in most foods. Even a banana has protein—1.3 grams to be exact. Although the number might be small, there are plenty of protein sources that can add up to your daily requirement. Some vegetarian protein sources actually contain quite a bit of protein. Tempeh, a cousin of tofu, actually has 24 grams of protein in a 4-ounce serving. Even a cup of lentils packs almost 18 grams. So if you want to go vegan or vegetarian, you won’t be at a loss for protein.

Looking at the Numbers

If you’re curious about the protein content in common foods, here’s a list to help you. Obviously meats have the highest amount of protein, but the others may surprise you.

Meat/Poultry/Fish

  • 6-ounces of beef = 54 grams
  • 6-ounces of turkey = 51 grams
  • 6-ounces of pork = 49 grams
  • 6-ounces of tuna = 40 grams
  • 6-ounces of chicken = 38 grams
  • 6-onces of salmon = 34 grams

Eggs & Dairy

  • 1 cup of cottage cheese = 28 grams
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt = 11 grams
  • 1 cup of whole or skim milk = 8 grams
  • 1-ounce American cheese = 7 grams
  • 1 large egg = 6 grams

Beans/Nuts

  • 1 cup lentils = 18 grams
  • 1 cup split peas = 16 grams
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 8 grams
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter = 7 grams

Fruits/Vegetables

  • Avocado = 3 grams
  • Banana = 1.3 grams
  • Orange = 1.7 grams
  • 1 cup of spinach = 0.9 grams

Photo: Pexels

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