Contains added protein and Has 10 g protein/serving are just some claims we can read on food packaging today. But what do these numbers really mean in context of a whole day’s eating? How much is enough?
Thanks to the diets such as Atkins and Paleo – protein has been pushed as a “wonder” macro-nutrient which can help with weight loss, build muscle and stave off hunger. It is true, it helps us feel fuller longer and even helps decrease food cravings and appetite. It is particularly beneficial for diabetics and those wanting to control weight.
The issue lies in the fact that Americans eat at least twice as much as compared to what is recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and overall get the majority of their protein intake all at once, at dinner time.
US Recommendations May Be Too Low
The Recommended Daily Allowances ( RDA’s) are based on protecting against deficiencies and may not reflect optimal intake. The Academy of Sciences recommends that Americans get 0.8/g per kg body weight which may be too low. We could need up to twice that amount for a healthy diet, especially weight loss, glucose control and sports. That means what is recommended as 56 g/day for an adult as the RDA can increase to 112 g/day.
Divide Evenly Throughout the Day
What does 112 grams of protein look like divided throughout the day? Getting at least 20 grams per meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner would leave another 15 grams at a snack time. Below is a hypothetical 1800 calorie meal Plan which divides it up evenly throughout the day.
Breakfast Protein (g)
1 C yogurt 8
1 oz walnuts 7
1 C fruit 0
1.2 C Oats (old fashioned rolled)) 5
1 C Latte 8
1 Trader Joe’s low carb tortilla 7
2 ounces chicken breast 14
1 C lettuce 0
2 slices tomato 0
1 tsp “Veganaise” ( vegetarian mayo) 0
1 large apple 0
2 C Water 0
1 Balance Bar 15
18 grapes 0
12 oz flavored seltzer 0
4 oz Salmon 28
1/2 C Quinoa 6
2 C sautéed vegetables 4
½ C sorbet 0
1 C berries 0
2 C water 0
TOTAL 112 (g)
The take home here is three fold:
- Consume twice as much protein than is recommended by the RDA’s (approx. 112 grams of protein a day depending on body weight.)
- Make sure each meal and a snack through out the day contains adequate protein.
- Use protein at each meal to help with blood sugar control, weight loss, sport and energy.
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