As far as I can tell, everyone loves a chart or a list! In the past, I wrote a series of articles on protein needs. Today’s topic builds these other two:
This time, I am providing you with information on how much protein are in various foods. First off, I want to remind you that more protein is not necessarily better. What we are looking for with protein is a quality source, and making sure that you are having it spread throughout the day, and not just loaded up in your dinner meal.
In my 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
You can see more examples on this chart.
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)
Eating More Protein Builds Muscle, Right?
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.
Consider yourself informed – What you decide to do with this information is your own adventure to choose.
I gotta get out of this chair!
Janet Bunei says
Thank you for your block and useful info. I work with kids with cancer and wondering if you any research on weight loss and cancer. Particularly on Obese pts.
Actually meat does cause cancer. If you have not yet watched the documentary on Netflix. What the health. I recommend it. It is a great watch!
Julie Lanford MPH, RD, CSO, LDN says
documentaries do not necessarily deliver evidence based information, although they might be interesting and thought provoking. If you’re interested in a science based review of “what the health”, check out this article: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/what-the-health-a-movie-with-an-agenda/
Angela D Tolley says
Common sense that meat and dairy from factory farmed animals is the common denominator the entire world shares that links us to cancer.As well as many other health related conditions.Scientist in many other countries proved years ago that cheese and dairy was #1 link to cancer.With hundreds of hormones and antibiotics injected into these animals ,it doesnt take a scientist to connect the dots here.Sadly just like cigarettes and all the studies proven the dangers and linking them to death,money will always win out over a healthy society.
Julie Lanford MPH, RD, LDN says
Can you share links to the studies that you base your information on? The AICR has pretty strong recommendations based on their review of evidence. I’m interested in seeing what studies you are reviewing that contradicts their extensive reviews?
bruce a. coppersmith says
Julie – I don’t have cancer but what I do have is type 2 diabetes and thought I was doing great because I got my acl down to 5.3 – one way I did this was eating more protein and less carbs – now my doctor finds that I have protein in my urine and need to correct that – so I am wondering if there is a list of plant based protein available so I can cut out some of the meat and dairy. I don’t want to necessarily be a complete vegetarian but I want to cut back on meat and dairy.
Julie Lanford MPH, RD, CSO, LDN says
Good job! All nuts, beans, and seeds are great sources of plant proteins.