Protein Foods

November 12, 2012

Protein Foods

Proteins are an important part of every diet. Most Americans get significant amounts of the nutrient in meals. However, some experts fear that they might be getting too much of proteins from animal sources such as meat and eggs.

Daily Protein Requirement

A normal adult should get 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein foods. This would amount to about 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams of protein for men. You can get about 11 grams of protein from an 8-ounce container of yogurt, and 16 grams of proteins from one cup of dry beans. Meat eaters may get 21 grams of proteins from a 3-ounce piece of meat.

Although proteins are required for muscle growth and immune function, excessive consumption of protein foods can add to your calorie intake and unwanted body weight. The amount of protein you eat should, therefore, be determined based on your age and overall health. Some sections of population may require more proteins than others.


Pregnant women should consume an additional 10 grams of protein per day, while nursing mothers need 20 grams more protein each day than they did before pregnancy. The proteins in pregnant women are required for the growth and development of their baby. The excess proteins in nursing mothers support the production of breast milk.


Athletes and sportspersons use their muscles a lot. Their muscles are also prone to injury and breakdown. Hence, endurance athletes such as marathoners need an additional 50 percent protein when compared to those who do not participate in serious physical activity. Bodybuilders may need twice as much protein as normal people. However, they need not consume supplements to get the proteins. They can get sufficient amounts of it from protein foods.


Overweight and obese individuals who wish to shed some pounds should cut down on their carbohydrate and fat intake, and substitute these foods with proteins instead. Protein foods are more filling, and help delay hunger. However, it is important to control the portion size.

Vegetarians and Vegans

Although vegetarians are deprived of proteins found in meat, fish, eggs, or dairy, they can get sufficient amounts of the nutrient from a healthy and balanced meal that includes peas, legumes, nuts, seeds and different varieties of beans. You should, however, remember that plant proteins are not complete. They do not have all the essential amino acids required for your body. Hence, it is important to include a variety of protein foods in your diet.

Best Food Sources

Some of the best protein foods include:

  • Lean meats such as red meat, fish and poultry without skin.
  • Nonfat or low-fat dairy products
  • Soy foods including tofu, edamame and roasted soy nuts.
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, spelt, and amaranth.

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