Protein is necessary for the building of muscle mass, repairing tissues in the body and the creation of hemoglobin. Muscle mass helps support a healthy weight through increased metabolism and assists in the repairing of damaged muscle tissue from exercise and aging tissue. Hemoglobin is necessary for the transportation of oxygen in the body to muscles and organs. Protein also plays an important part of immune response. Eating an inadequate amount of protein can have an impact on the body’s ability to fight off infection and disease. Protein is also necessary for the repair of bones.
Image Source: ZakVTA
Optimal Protein Intake
The minimum amount of protein required for an adult is expressed as 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. The ideal amount of protein in a diet can vary depending on age and activity level. Generally, it is recommended that your intake be between 10% and 35% of your daily intake of calories. However, in the United States the Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein is 56 grams a day for men and 46 grams a day for women. People with certain health conditions or extreme levels of physical activity may require less or more protein in their diets. Those training for certain athletic events may also wish to increase the amount of protein in their diets.
Most people have no difficulty in receiving an adequate amount of protein from their diets. Protein tends to increase the fullness sensation, so people on actively trying to lose weight are often encouraged to eat more protein. There are many healthy options for adding protein to one’s diet.
Common protein sources include:
- One large egg (6 grams of protein)
- ½ cup of cottage cheese (14 grams of protein)
- 3 ounces of tofu (13 grams of protein)
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (8 grams of protein)
- 1 ounce of meat, fish or poultry (7 grams of protein)
- 4 ounces of yogurt (6 grams of protein)
- 1 ounce nuts (7 grams protein)
- ½ cup lentils (9 grams protein)
- 1 ounce firm cheese (7 ounces of protein)
- 1 slice bread (2 grams of protein)
The optimal amount of protein varies however most active people will benefit from eating a higher level of protein and reducing calorie-filled carbohydrates from their diets. You can calculate the baseline amount of protein you need by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2 and then multiplying it by 0.8. This can be used as a starting point for calculating whether you are receiving enough protein. If you find yourself frequently reaching for high carbohydrate snacks, such as chips, crackers or cookies, you can choose healthful protein snacks as replacements. Nuts, low-fat cheese, and milk will help you feel full longer and contribute protein to your diet.
It is very difficult to ingest too much protein. People on a higher protein diet often show greater weight loss than those eating lower amounts of protein and often maintain their weight loss longer. You should always check with your doctor before making major changes to your diet and strive for a well-rounded diet with variety. The body is very skilled at modifying food for use as energy. Always combine a healthy diet with frequent physical activity for best results including weight-bearing activities and cardiovascular activities. If you have a medical condition, verify with your physical that you are healthy enough for moderate exercise.