In the last article about how much protein you need, I mentioned that most of us only need 6 or 9 ounces each day. For those who do like charts, you can check out this chart, as it lists recommended amounts based on age (from 2year olds through adults). The most they recommend for anyone is 6.5 ounces. As a reminder, a typical deck of cards size piece of meat is 3 ounces!
If you've been reading my blog long enough, you know that I am a big fan of plant based foods, including protein foods! Not only do you get the protein you need, but a plant source of protein will also give you extra cancer fighting phytochemicals that your body needs.
No, you don't have to consume plants as your only source of protein ever (you can if you want!), but consuming meatless meals on a regular basis would have a lot of great health benefits!
FYI - on average, 1 ounce is the same as:
- 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish,
- ¼ cup cooked beans,
- 1 egg,
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or other nut butter
- ½ ounce of nuts or seeds
So to get 2-3 ounces at a meal, you might have a deck of cards size piece of meat, 1/2 - 3/4 cup of cooked beans, 2-3T of nut butter or 1 ounce of seeds.
Some of you might prefer to count up your protein by the gram, rather than in ounces.
How many grams are in an ounce of meat, or protein?
I like how this article breaks it down:
"There are about 7 g of protein in 1 ounce of cooked meat. So, for example, 4 ounces of raw boneless skinless chicken breast yields about 3 ounces of cooked chicken, or 21 g of protein. Most healthy adults need about 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. To calculate pounds, divide your weight by 2.2 to convert to kilograms and multiply by 0.8 to find the protein grams recommended for your weight each day. For example, a 175-pound person would need about 64 g of protein each day."
Some more examples would be:
- 73g for a 200# person
- 54g for a 150# person
- 45g for a 125# person
If you think that you are more active than an average person should be (these recommendations are based on a healthy person, NOT an average person!), then going up to 1g of protein per kilogram should be plenty and would be the following:
- 90g for a 200# person
- 80g for a 175# person
- 68g for a 150# person
- 56g for a 125# person
So for you math-y types out there... I know you're dividing 54g by 7g (the average amount of protein grams per "ounce") and saying - "but that's not 5 ounces, it's 7.7 ounces!".
I cannot argue with math. You are correct! However, there are lots of sources of protein in foods. Grains have some amount of protein, dairy products have protein, vegetables have a small amount of protein (depending on the type). The point is that you only need about 6 ounces of a protein-rich food source each day. When you combine that with other foods throughout the day that have smaller amounts, it will add up to what you need.
For a comprehensive list of foods and the amount of protein in plant foods, check out this page. NOTE: it is a lot of info and a bit confusing. To make sense of it, I would focus on the 3rd column (protein(gm) per pound). It will give you a way to compare how much protein is in a variety of different foods within each food group. I found it interesting that almonds have twice as much protein, per pound, as pecans!
If you go over your protein needs on any given day, it's not a big deal because you will probably go under another day. What you DON'T want to do is what the typical American does. They blow past their protein needs day after day after day. And they typically do that by loading up at dinner. Woah - that's the worst!
Our goals for protein are:
- Get enough (protein is needed for muscle maintenance/growth and a strong immune system)
- Don't get too much (excess is stored as fat)
- Choose quality sources that promote health (plant based sources at least 50% of the time)
Contrary to what your gym teacher or coach taught you, consuming protein drinks or raw eggs or a ton of tuna will NOT promote growth of your muscles! The only thing that builds muscle is good old hard work and exercise! This can be achieved in the following ways:
- Get your butt moving during breaks, after work and on weekends!
- Get a job that requires you to be on your feet and moving heavy things all day long.
- Walk or bike to work.
I gotta get out of this chair!