Do you know how much protein you eat every day? How many grams of protein do you consume each meal? Do you have protein with your snacks? Are you supplementing with any protein powders?
If you’re into fitness, especially weight training, you most likely do know how much protein you eat every day. Or at least a rough estimate.
But for the average person who’s just trying to eat healthy, it’d probably be fair to say that you don’t know how much protein you eat on a daily basis. As a dietitian, one of the things I most often see is an underconsumption of protein, especially in women. It’s easy to overlook the power of protein in your diet.
Research shows that protein helps regulate satiety, meaning that protein is what keeps you full and satisfied, more so than carbohydrates or fat (1). Think about eating a steak versus eating cereal or sushi. A steak will keep you feeling full for a much longer period of time than carbs. Vegetables, which are high in fiber, also aid in satiety.
Eating protein also increases your metabolism through diet-induced thermogenesis (2). Your body actually burns calories just digesting protein. Think about how much work it is for your body to digest a piece of meat. It goes from your stomach to your digestive tract, gets broken down into amino acids, processed through the liver, and then the amino acids get sent throughout the body to build muscle, repair tissue, or wherever your body has a need.
It does take more effort for your body to breakdown and process animal protein than plant proteins. But you can gain muscle eating plant-based proteins, you just need to eat more grams of the plant based protein than animal based protein. This is because plant-based proteins are lower in amino acids (3).
Focusing on protein intake can help with weight loss as well (4). When you’re trying to lose weight, you want to maintain your lean muscle mass and lose the fat. Consuming a diet high in protein will help your body preserve your muscle. The human body is mainly composed of protein.
So how much protein should you eat? If you search the internet, you’ll get anything from 30 to 200 grams of protein a day.
Research shows the most benefit from evenly distributing your protein intake throughout the day. Aim for at least 30 grams of protein with your meals, which is just over four ounces (5). More recent research is starting to suggest that the current protein recommendations of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may be low and we should actually be consuming 1.2 -1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, especially when trying to lose weight or as we age (6).
A good reference point is to aim for around 100 grams of protein a day.
And remember that a serving of Killer Whey! Protein Ice Cream has 11 grams of protein and 44 grams of protein per pint.