As a dietitian, when working with clients, one of the most common areas of improvement that we work on is increasing protein intake. Why? The functions of protein are often misunderstood and protein often tends to be the least exciting macronutrient to a meal or snack.
Many clients express concerns that protein will make them bulky, they think that only athletes need protein or they share they simply do not know how much protein they actually need.
Why Protein is Important
Protein is essential for life so no matter young or elderly, no matter male or female– you need protein! Protein is best known for the role that it plays in muscle growth and recovery. However because protein is made of amino acids it supports the immune system and basic bodily functions such as maintaining bones, skin, nails, and hair. It all helps with the production of hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and other chemicals used by our body.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 0.8 g/kg, however, this recommended amount does not establish the ideal amount, rather it identifies the minimum intake needed to prevent malnutrition. So how much protein do you need each day? There are many factors that are considered when determining how much protein someone needs. While each person is unique there are recommendations that we can use as a jumping-off point or use to help us get a general idea of “how much” we need.
Having the gram amounts is all well and good but HOW do you know if you are getting about how much you need? Let’s discuss!
- Include a protein source in each meal, this includes breakfast!
- When building your plate, aim for ¼-⅓ of your plate to be protein OR have about 1 palm size amount of protein.
- Add high-protein foods to your snacks by looking for snacks that have 10g + of protein listed on the nutrition label.
- Utilize protein supplements (drinks, bars, shakes)
Protein Meal Ideas
Have questions about how much protein you may need, how to increase protein or just need help with nutrition in general?
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