Protein Matters Too
The Story Behind Protein
There's been a lot of attention focused on protein lately, especially with the recent popularity of high-protein diets such as South Beach and Atkins.
Good Sources of Protein
- Lean cuts of meat
- Soy products (soy milk and tofu)
TIP: The leaner the protein the
better. E.g. skim or 2% milk over whole
Your body needs protein every day to keep from breaking down its own tissues. There are risks associated with a lack of protein, such as loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, and weakening of the heart and respiratory system. Lack of quality protein is a serious problem in most parts of the world, but Americans generally get more than they need without even thinking about it.
Try to get about 9 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. In other words, divide your weight in half and that's a good high guesstimate of how many grams of protein you should be getting every day.
According to the USDA here are the amounts contained in some of the most familiar sources of dietary protein:
|Chicken||6 oz||42.5 g|
|Hamburger||6 oz||48.6 g|
|Tuna||6 oz||40.1 g|
|Cottage Cheese||1 cup||28.1 g|
|Yogurt||1 cup||11.9 g|
|Tofu||1/2 cup||10.1 g|
|Lentils||1/2 cup||9 g|
|Milk||1 cup||8 g|
|Egg||1 large||6.1 g|
|Rice||1 cup||4.3 g|
|Whole Wheat Bread||2 slices||5.4 g|
Protein isn’t just about quantity
Protein is also about quality. Your body needs many different types of amino acids in order to build new protein. All of the amino acids are found in ‘complete protein’. Most animal meat contains complete protein. For vegetarians, it is important to consume protein from a variety of protein containing food in order to satisfy your body’s need for amino acids.
The final word about protein? Don't worry, be happy.
One of the major nutrition recommendations listed in the Physicians Desk Reference Guide to Nutrition and Health is for Americans to quit worrying about getting enough protein. The average American eats about twice the amount needed. Although there's no known danger with getting too much, most of us, even most vegetarians, could certainly get by with less.