How much protein do you need?

You can get protein from unexpected places - like a yogurt parfait. (QMI AGENCY Files)

You can get protein from unexpected places - like a yogurt parfait. (QMI AGENCY Files)

Fran Berkoff, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:28 AM ET

A recent study from the University of Missouri, published in the journal Obesity, showed that people who eat a good breakfast, especially one higher in protein, are fuller and less hungry throughout the day. I think this is an important message because it underlines the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast but it also shows what I often tell my clients, to include protein at this important meal. Being less hungry through the day is an important tool in weight management and starting the day with a good breakfast can set you up for a more productive, energy filled day.

When it comes to well-being, protein has an important role to play. It is the nutrient essential for life. It is part of structural components in your body including muscles and connective tissues and is vital for growth and repair of all body cells. Also, the antibodies that protect us from disease, the enzymes needed for digestion and metabolism, and insulin and many other hormones are all made of protein. A connective tissue made from protein forms the matrix of bones and protein is used by the body to make hair and nails.

Protein rich foods include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products, legumes, lentils, soy products. People who are vegetarian and/or do not eat meat, fish, chicken and other animal products, can get their proteins from vegetable sources like beans, tofu, nuts and nut butters. You can also get good quality protein by combining grains legumes and vegetables. For example, a peanut butter sandwich, rice, beans and tofu, falafel and pita or pasta with pine nuts.

How much protein?

Sedentary people need about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. For example, a 75 kg (165 pound) adult would need about 60 grams of protein per day. As you become more active your needs increase but this extra amount can easily be met though your usual diet. If you are very active or engage in endurance sports such as triathalons or strength sports like body building, your needs can climb to 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kg/day. As you can see from the chart, its not too difficult to meet your daily requirements:

3 oz. (90 g)  cooked meat,  fish or chicken 21-25 grams
1 egg 6 grams
1 cup milk or soy beverage 9 grams
1.5 oz Cheddar cheese 12 grams
3/4 cup yogurt 9 grams
2 tbsp peanut butter 7 grams
1 cup kidney beans 15 grams
1 cup cooked lentils 18 grams
3 ox (90 grams) tofu 14 grams
1/4 cup almonds 8 grams
1 cup cooked pasta 8 grams
3/4 cup coked oatmeal 4 grams
2 slices whole wheat bread 6 grams

For most people, there is no need to take protein supplements since it is found in so many foods. For those engaged in very strenuous activity, a protein drink or bar can be helpful and convenient, especially if you are on the run, training heavily or have any dietary restrictions. However, consuming more protein than the extra that is needed for exercise won't help you build stronger, bigger muscles. If you are getting the calories you need (remember that carbs are the important fuel for exercise), excess portion will be stored as fat.

So, going back to breakfast, you can get some protein by having a scrambled or soft boiled egg, an egg white omelette, whole wheat toast with cheese or peanut butter, yogurt or a yogurt smoothie, oatmeal cooked with milk instead of water.


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