Proteins are an important nutrient in our diets, but how much protein you need depends on your sex, weight, and activity level.
Proteins help give shape to some of the cells that make up your body’s tissues. Some proteins act as hormones or neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) so they influence mood, appetite, and sleep. Also, the liver uses amino acids to produce glucose for energy, so eating enough protein can aid in weight loss.
However, too much protein can be harmful. Overconsuming protein can increase the amount of acid in your blood which may cause symptoms like stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fatigue. These symptoms come from the gut reacting poorly to the extra protein intake.
This article will discuss the differences between dietary protein sources, the average daily amounts for each source, and the recommended levels for those over 20 years old.
Sources of protein
Proteins are the main component of meat, seafood, eggs, milk, nuts, and other foods that contain large amounts of protein. They occur in two basic forms: complete or incomplete.
Complete proteins are made up of all nine essential amino acids that we need to survive. These include dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt as well as meats, fish, and some vegetables.
Incomplete proteins do not have enough of one or more of these essential amino acids and so they cannot be completely converted into protein. Examples of these are peas, grains, and most fruits.
We usually don’t worry too much about which type of protein is in what food, but it does matter because individuals with vegetarian diets may lack certain amino acids, while others may suffer from nutritional deficiencies due to excessive intake of specific ones.
Overall though, eating a wide variety of high quality protein sources is important for overall health and performance.
Benefits of protein
Proteins are an important part of your diet! They help promote bone growth, muscle development, skin health, and many other things.
You’ve probably heard about how much protein you need to eat per day, but it can be hard to know exactly how much is needed for individual needs.
That’s why we have some general guidelines. People usually refer to them as “recommended levels” or “minimum requirements” for each macronutrient.
These recommendations are actually averages though- there isn’t one size fits all when it comes to proteins. Different people have different genetics, so they require different amounts to maintain healthy weight.
Furthermore, what constitutes enough protein varies from person to person depending on their body type. For these reasons, no matter who you are or what your personal goal is, there is never truly an average amount of protein that works for everyone.
This article will go into more detail about the benefits of eating a balanced diet high in protein, as well as some tips for how to achieve those benefits for yourself.
Recognized health benefits of protein
Recent studies suggest that too little dietary protein can be just as bad for your health as no protein at all. That’s because most of us don’t get enough of it — even when we say we do.
A normal, healthy person needs 10 to 35 grams (0.7 to 2.3 ounces) of protein per day. Most people are deficient in this important nutrient, however.
One reason is that Americans tend to eat less meat than anyone else in the world. A 2008 Harvard School of Health study found that only 9% of 1,200 adults surveyed consumed more than two servings of red or white meat every week. Even if you include fish as a source of protein, only 24% reported eating three or more meals containing one ounce each of meat weekly.
Another reason many people feel they don’t need much protein is that some foods, like bread and pasta, are high in fiber. Therefore, they think they don’t have to add any extra protein to their diets.
Too much protein
Overconsuming too much protein can be disastrous for your health. While eating enough protein is important, making sure you’re not consuming more than the recommended amount of protein is just as essential to good nutrition.
Too much protein can have negative effects on your skin and body. If you are very active or participate in sports, an adequate intake of protein may be unnecessary, but for people who sit around most of the day high protein foods like meat, nuts and legumes are needed to ensure healthy bone growth and muscle development.
However, with all these different types of food it becomes difficult to know how much protein you’ve got going into yourself. There isn’t really any way to tell unless you do a nutritional test, which some fast food chains offer.
But what if there was a standard way to measure the average daily protein intake? According to Harvard Medical School, we get about 0.8 grams per kilogram (0.8 g/kg) of our daily requirement every 24 hours.
That means if you weigh 70 kg (154 lbs), you would need 35 grams (3.5 oz) of protein each day! Most individuals only meet this goal by having three meals and one snack at least twice a week.
By now, you probably realize that this is impossible for many people.
Eat your carbs and fat
Most people get too focused on how much protein you need to consume and forget about the other two macronutrients. This is not good as they may be missing out on some important nutrients in their diet!
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins all contribute to health and nutritional needs of the body. However, research has shown that it’s unnecessary to aim for an excess amount of one over the others.
Instead, we should focus on our overall balance of these three main components of food. A balanced diet means ensuring that you eat enough of each nutrient to meet your daily requirements.
This article will discuss why having a high intake of protein is not necessarily the best way to achieve this goal and what else you can do to improve your nutrition.
What does the research say?
Recent studies suggest that we need not be as stringent with our recommendations for protein. Many nutrition experts recommend at least 10% of your daily calories from protein, but some even go up to 15%. Some fad diets completely eliminate carbohydrates and fat, leaving you with no source of protein.
By setting lower limits for protein, you are limiting it more than ever before. In fact, most healthy individuals require only about 6-8 grams per day! That’s one ounce (about 30 grams) of meat, chicken, fish, or soy product every few days.
Too much protein can do lots of things like promote blood coagulation which can lead to internal bleeding or clotting. This is why many people who eat large amounts of seafood must limit their intake or take special precautions against gastrointestinal (GI) issues.
Also, excessive levels of protein may increase cortisol, a stress hormone that could have negative effects on bone health.
As mentioned before, one of the major components of protein is found in foods such as meat, fish, nuts, and dairy. However, you don’t have to eat these complete proteins (meat with no veggies or bread) to get your daily amount.
Protein powders are another way to enjoy high amounts of protein. These usually contain isolated amino acids that can be mixed together into a drink or put onto toast like milk.
Yogurt is also an easy source of protein since it contains both fat and protein. One cup of plain yogurt has enough protein for one person!
When eating carbs, people often question whether they should opt for white pasta, bread, or even some types of rice. But this isn’t necessary when you’re looking to increase your intake of protein!
You can easily make dishes containing noodles, potatoes, and/or vegetables that pack in extra protein! For example, broccoli cheese soup has pasta, potato, and vegetable all mixed up in a creamy sauce with melted cheese stirred in at the end.
A protein shake is simply mixed water with some type of milk or flavor, and then you mix it with an appropriate amount of powdered protein. Then, you drink it!
Protein shakes are usually recommended to be one scoop per serving– that is, like a glass of milk. You can also use less than one scoop if you want but we would recommend at least two scoops to get your daily allowance.
You can mix the powder into liquid directly in the container as many times as needed until you reach the desired consistency. Some people prefer to start out with a thinner texture and then whisk together a thicker paste before drinking it because this takes longer to ingest which helps decrease gastrointestinal discomfort.
Many people eat what they wake up for day after day, so having a meal plan is important to ensure you are getting enough protein. Make sure to check out our article about how much protein is needed for teens to understand whether you’re giving their body enough nutrition.