How Much Protein?

September 2, 2009 | Comments: 2 Comments

Categories: Nutrition, Uncategorized

Proteins are the molecules that make up muscle, among other things. The basic building block of proteins are called amino acids and there are 20 of them. 11 of the 20 can be manufactured by the human body, but nine of them we have to obtain from food and are called essential amino acids.

The general guideline for how much protein you eat is anywhere from 0.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2pounds) of body weight. That 2.2 number is huge and should be reserved for professional body builders. Professional athletes fall in the 1.4 to 1.8 range. The rest of us are going to fall in the 0.6 to 1.2 range, depending on our goals and activity level. Generally, the more active you are or the more muscle you want to build, the more protein you should eat. So, if are female, weigh 130 pounds, are moderately active and would like to look good in a tank top, your goal range may be 0.8 x (130/2.2) = 47grams to 1.0 x (130/2.2) = 59 grams of protein per day. This isn’t so much if you look at the amount of protein in some of the foods we eat.

3oz   Chicken Breast     30g
1c   TJ’s Whole Wheat Pasta    10g
3oz   Salmon    20g
1c   Milk    8g
1/2c    Quinoa (cooked)    4.5g
4oz   Tofu   8g
1/2c   Lentils (cooked)   9g
7   Almonds   2.1g
8oz   2% Fage   20g
1pc   Sargento Lite String Cheese   6g
2   Large Eggs   12g
6   Triscuits  3g

Clearly, it wouldn’t bee too hard to reach 47 grams of protein from just these foods. One cup of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pasta with three ounces of salmon is 30 grams right there! In fact, you may be eating up to twice that amount in a day. Take a look at your protein intake. If it is too low, beef it up! If it is too high, replace that steak with some veggies!

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2 responses to “How Much Protein?”

  1. Tim C says:

    So, what are the effects of eating too much protein?

  2. Brandie says:

    That is a great question, Tim. There are a couple of problems when we eat too much protein. Your body can only utilize about 95% of what you eat at any given time for muscle synthesis. The rest is converted to fat and stored, or if you are eating a very high protein diet like the Atkins Diet, the excess protein will be exctreted in the urine.

    So we have two issues, excess protein being stored as fat and excess protein passing through the kidneys. Clearly, fat storage is not our goal. Excess amounts of protein passing through the kidneys may be an issue, particularly for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, are obese or over 65. What is comes down is is that protein passing through the kidneys in large amounts may lead to decreased kidney function, especially in people already predisposed to it.

    Most healthy people will probably be fine ingesting "too much protein," especially if they drink lots of water, but maybe not. The research is mixed, so I am not comfortable making a call. In the end, most people should eat more veggies anyway 🙂

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