How much protein do we need to eat daily?
The commonly recommended amount is around 0.8 – 1 gram for every kilogram of body weight (Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, Protein. 2014, 09/04.) So for me, at 54kg this equates to about 43 grams of protein per day
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, there are twenty of them that we need to make all of the protein parts of ourselves: muscle, skin, connective tissue, organs, nails, hair, enzymes, hormones.
Protein is an important component of the immune system when you consider that the gut is a major part of our immune system. If our digestive system is not intact and robust then infection has a better chance of invasion.
If you find yourself succumbing to infections easily and regularly, have brittle nails and hair, cracked and dry skin and take ages to heal from a cut, graze or tissue injury, then you may be deficient in protein and ought to asses your diet.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, it’s a quick reference of commonly consumed foods, both animal and plant ~ and their protein content, usually per 100g.
Protein Content of Commonly Consumed Foods
Meat and Fish
- Chicken, breast, skin off, roasted, 100g: 34 g of protein
- Lamb, chops, 100g: 28g of protein
- Beef, 100g: 27g of protein
- Snapper 1 x fillet (approx. 170g): 45g of protein
- Salmon 1/2 x fillet (approx. 180g): 39g of protein
- Tuna, tinned, 85g: 22g of protein
- Ham, 100g: 17g of protein
- Bacon whole rasher, grilled, 100g: 22.2g of protein
- Sausage, beef, grilled, 100g: 13.9g of protein
- Sausage, pork, grilled, 100g: 16.8g of protein
Dairy and Eggs
- Eggs, 1 x large, poached: 6g of protein
- Milk, cow’s, full fat, 100mL: 3.5g of protein
- Milk, cow’s, skimmed, 100mL: 3.7g of protein
- Cheese, cheddar, full fat, 100g: 24.6g of protein
- Fetta, goat/sheep, 100g: 17.4g of protein
- Ricotta, reduced fat, 100g: 10.1g of protein
- Cream cheese, full fat, 100g: 11.1g of protein
- Haloumi, 100g: 21.3g of protein
- Yoghurt, natural, full fat, 100g: 6g of protein
- Red lentils, 100g: 6.8g of protein
- Yellow split peas, 100g: 6.6g of protein
- Quinoa, 100g: 4g of protein
- Chickpeas (garbanzo), tinned, 100g: 6.3g of protein
- Cannelini beans, tinned, 100g: 6.2g of protein
- Kidney beans, tinned, 100g: 6.6g of protein
- Tofu, firm, 100g: 12g of protein
- Tofu, silken, 100g: 8.1g of protein
Nuts and Seeds
- Almonds, raw, 25g: 6g of protein
- Walnuts, raw, 25g: 4g of protein
- Brazil nuts, raw, 25g: 3.6g of protein
- Cashew nuts, raw, 25g: 5g of protein
- Peanut butter, no salt or sugar, 1Tbs: 6g of protein
- Pumpkin seeds, raw, 25g: 6.1g of protein
- Sunflower seeds, raw, 25g: 6.7g of protein
Bread and Grains
- Bread, white, 100g (approx 2 slices): 9.7g of protein
- Bread, wholemeal, 100g: 9g of protein
- Bread, gluten free, 100g: 9.8g of protein
- Bread, rye, light, 100g: 9g of protein
- Oats, whole, raw, 100g: 2g of protein
- Pasta, white, 100g: 4.2g of protein
- Pasta, wholemeal, 100g: 4.9g of protein
- Rice, white, 100g: 2.7 of protein
- Rice, wholegrain, 100g: 2.9g of protein
- Pearled barley, 100g: 2.9g of protein
- Polenta, cooked in water, 100g: 2.6g of protein
Now don’t get all caught up counting protein grams per meal per day and freaking out if you’re short! Just eat a wide variety of protein containing foods, particularly whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and ensure that you consume lean meat or sustainable seafood a few times per week.
Breakfast: oats w’ added nuts, seeds and whole milk w’ a dollop of yoghurt OR wholemeal toast w’ peanut butter.
Snack: handful of nuts/carrot sticks w’ hummus/whole grain crackers w’ cheese/a tub of yoghurt (and some fresh fruit!)
Lunch: salad w’ added tinned beans and cubes of fetta/slice of frittata w’ wholemeal bread/leftover dinner w’ meat/sandwich, roll, wrap w’ lean meat, eggs or tofu and sprouts.
Dinner: Soup or stew with meat or without, with legumes and grains/stir fry with or without meat with cubed tofu, fried egg, sprouts, seeds and nuts/poached eggs on wholemeal toast/pasta with pine nuts and fetta; or chicken and pesto; or tuna, tomato and chilli.
Vegetables contain protein also, but I haven’t included them as the levels are smaller and the list would be too long!
Basically: aim to eat a diet varied in fresh, whole foods, focus on including plant protein sources in meals and select quality animal products to feature on alternate nights (meat doesn’t have to be the star of the meal.)
Personally, 2016 is shaping up to be the year I consciously follow the niggle I’ve had for some time now that meat consumption requires some renewed perspective.
Peas, love and mung-beans, K180, x