How much protein should I eat every day?
We are constantly being told about the importance of protein in our diet, but how much should we be eating with every meal, what are substitutes for vegetarians and why is it so important?
Protein is the building block required by every cell in the body for growth and repair. They protect us from diseases, aid digestion, assist metabolism, stabilise blood-sugar levels, provide energy, improve iron levels, and even play an important part in the production of hormones.
Proteins are required by our immune system to help fight infections and are therefore especially beneficial during times of illness, after surgery, through blood loss, burns and injuries. Our bodies require more protein production to assist in bringing back the body’s strength through regeneration of cells and tissues.
Protein makes up about 20% of our body weight and is a primary component of our muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes and internal organs, especially the heart muscle and brain, but exactly how much protein is enough for us to function at our best?
Healthy adults need approximately 15 – 25grams of protein per meal and this amount would increase if you were trying to build muscle mass and tone.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN PROTEIN?
What does this look like on a plate?
• Hard boiled egg = 6g protein
• Poached chicken breast = 54g protein
• Piece of Salmon = 20g protein
• Eye Fillet Steak = 32g protein
• Firm Tofu (1/2 cup) = 22g protein
• Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup) = 12g protein
• Nuts (20 almonds) = 6g protein
• Spinach (1 cup) = 1g protein
• Green Peas (1cup) = 8g protein
Other sources of protein include yoghurt, cheese, chickpeas, tahini, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and lentils.
From these measures you can quickly see how easy it is to get quality protein at every meal every day. Most of us should get plenty of protein from our daily diets and it’s important to consume a good balance of animal and plant protein because they will provide a variety of essential nutrients.
When not consuming enough protein you may feel symptoms of fatigue, headaches, low blood pressure and mood changes.
Instead of reaching for sugary breakfast cereals and refined breads, begin your day with a couple of eggs, some lean chicken or meat leftover from dinner and add some good fats like avocado to round out a healthy meal.
A protein smoothie is also an excellent snack or meal replacement to add more protein into your day. Pack it with bananas, berries, yoghurt, granola and add in a quality protein powder to give it an extra boost.
The benefits of adequate protein in your diet include speedy recovery after exercise and injury, building lean muscle, helping maintain a healthy weight and curbing feelings of hunger. And when you feel better you tend to make healthier choices that keep you on track. It’s a lifestyle choice that promotes a better sense of wellbeing, happiness and longevity.
Written by Mona Hecke
Mona Hecke is a degree qualified Naturopath, nutrition specialist and health and wellness writer.
With over 20 years in the health industry, beginning with a focus on children and families, and a bestselling book ‘The Lunchbox Revolution’, Mona is now empowering women through education and conversation to take action and embrace change. Gut health, mindfulness, nutrition, hormones, and menopause are the topics that women want and need to know to create their healthy future.
Mona holds certifications in Lifestyle Coaching, Kinesiology, holistic herbal medicine, and nutrition.
A recognised leader in the health industry, Mona’s strong social media presence and passion for influencing change will continue to be a catalyst for health reform for the benefit of every Australian.