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How Much Protein do You Need?

Do you live in the USA? If you answered yes and have the resources to read are getting enough protein. Despite all the protein powders, shakes and bars available, the need for supplemental protein is not needed. Let's break this down and remove the hype.

Depending upon your activity level, 10-35% of your calories should come from protein. The recommended amount for an average sedentary adult is 0.8gms/kg of body weight. Unless you do rapid math in your head, I know that's not helpful so think of it this way. A person who weights 165 lbs (75kg) should consume 60gm of protein a day. If you exercise regularly or lift weights or are training for an athletic event, your protein and calorie need increases, and older people who lose muscle from aging also need more. 75-90 gm per day for a 75kg person.

The healthiest protein options are plant sources such as soy, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Healthy protein is found in lean meats (skinless, white-meat chicken or turkey), fish, egg whites or low fat dairy.

Extra strength training is what builds muscle, not extra protein intake. Eating protein without exercise does not build muscle and any extra protein the body can't use is stored as fat. A juicy hunk of steak is a poor way to get protein as it is also high in total and saturated fat, leading to elevated blood lipids and heart disease.

Eating protein at each meal (15-30gm) is the best way for your body to use the protein. What does 15-30 gm of protein look like? Eating a banana, greek yogurt and a hard-boiled egg is about 19gm of protein.

A 3 oz chicken breast with 1/2 cup of rice and 1/2 cup of veggies is about 25 gm of protein. A bean and egg breakfast burrito is about 25 gm.

Unless you are dieting or not eating a balanced diet, there is no need to take protein supplements. Many are expensive as well as high in calories and sugar.

If you have Netflix, I recommend a documentary called "The Game Changers". It might be a mind-blower to see what science experts and elite athletes are now doing with their work-out diets. Full disclosure-there have been some criticisms of the film for cherry picking the data but there is no disagreement that well-planned vegan diets can provide just as much protein as diets that include animal products, along with all nine essential amino acids - the building blocks of protein that you must obtain from food.


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