How much protein do I need?
This is a very important question. Not fueling your body with the right amount of protein, or other nutrients, can cause harm…or at least just make you feel horrible. It will have you walking around looking and sounding like Eeyore. But for now, we will only talk about how to get your protein.
Despite what other vegans and vegetarians may say, there is a such thing as protein deficiency…it’s just not common. Very few people go to the doctor with an issue and are diagnosed with protein deficiency. The internet has many websites that list the symptoms of it, but most don’t realize that these symptoms are common and can easily be related to many, many other issues. That’s why I won’t list them here.
Never diagnose yourself with protein deficiency. This is something the doctors should do.
Protein I Need
Let’s start by calculating how much protein you need. Visit this website and enter your information and retrieve your results. Do you have them? Ok.
For example purposes, I will use my results that determine how much protein I need to help walk you through yours. Yes, you will see how much I weigh! LOL. I’m not that type of girl…I could care less. But what I do care about is that you understand what you are reading and what you need. So, here we go!!
Here is my information:
Based on the information I entered, the calculator calculates the protein I need, and all the vitamins and minerals that I need to have a healthy body. Harvard* calls this the “protein package.” The protein package consists of everything we need; fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. But again, we are only going to talk about protein right now: Protein and other intake recommendations are determined by your age, weight, and activity levels. A doctor/nutritionist can give you a more precise recommendation because they can evaluate your overall health. This calculation is assuming that you are in a relatively healthy condition.
My recommended protein intake is 56 grams of protein. Now let’s look at my staple meals over two days with their protein count (in parentheses):
Day 1 (54g of protein)
Breakfast: Grits (3g), Brussel sprouts (3g), and onions
Snack: Almonds, half cup (15g)
Lunch: Hibachi Vegetables – broccoli (3g), zucchini (1g), onions, cabbage (1g) – and jasmine rice (4g)
Snack: Popcorn (4g)
Dinner: Pinto beans (15g), cabbage (1g) and cornbread (4g)
Day 2 (84g of protein w/ veggie patty, 67g w/o veggie patty)
Breakfast: Breakfast Burrito with Scrambled Tofu (10g), black beans (20g), Pico de Gallo, homemade vegan sour cream (5g), and potatoes (1g)
Snack: Granola Bar (6g)
Lunch: Veggie Sub – wheat bread, veggie patty, spinach, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and sweet onion sauce – (23g w/ veggie patty, 6g w/o veggie patty)
Snack: Soy yogurt (9g), granola (2g), and almonds (3g)
Dinner: Cajun pasta (8g) with tomatoes (1g), mushrooms (1g), and spinach (1g)
You see, my protein intake varies from day-to-day. It all depends on what I eat, and yours will too. Sometimes I’m below the recommended amount and sometimes I’m above.
I created a document that lists of foods with their protein amount. I only list the most common foods a non-vegetarian/non-vegan consumes. This is because, transitioning, you may not know about certain vegetables or vegan specialties. I want you to work with what you already have.
Notice I did not list fruits. This is because they mostly very low in protein. However, I will discuss fruit when we talk about other nutrients we need.31 eden protein chart
Take it Further
To take this a step further, it is beneficial to know the types of amino acids each food has. I, personally, do not check every single meal to be sure I am getting the entire protein package, but it is still good information to have on hand. Matt, at No Meat Athlete, breaks down the types of amino acids, if you are interested. You can find that here.
The Honest Truth
It is very important that we eat enough protein, but I DO NOT calculate the protein for every meal. Who has time for that? However, I am very aware of the foods that I am eating.
What I have done is initial research: I have looked up foods and their protein content (like above) so I have a general idea. Now, sometimes I do look the information up again for a little refresher.
Please don’t feel like you have to calculate each meal. That’s just not realistic. 😉
To sum it up…
Use the tools and resources in this post to find out how much protein you need. The next step is to find the foods you enjoy and found out the protein content. I talk about that in another post. See you there!