Nutrition is a complicated issue, and confusing – even conflicting – information from experts (and would-be experts) doesn't make it any easier. Nutrition Coach Michelle Cartmel helps us understand our nutritional needs a little better.

Michelle shared that one of the questions that she is most frequently asked by her clients is around protein, particularly: “how much do I need?”

Over the past several years, the word "protein" has become SUCH a common part of our dietary vernacular, we might even say it's a borderline obsession for some. Blame Atkins, blame the keto craze, blame it on food marketers and what they put on their labels.

All of these messages about protein that we see on social media, on TV, hear from health experts on our favorite morning show – they fuel our curiosity for getting healthy but also create a lot of confusion. There is A LOT of information out there about and it's difficult to decipher.

Confusion around protein is what led Micelle to write this article, because she wants you to know that it doesn't have to be confusing. In fact, it's quite easy to consume adequate protein every day. To help you, she shares three easy protein pointers to live by:

Women and protein

The amount of protein women need is highly dependent on several factors such as body mass, physical activity type and level and overall health status or certain medical conditions. However, most women need approximately 1-1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, a 150-pound woman would need about 68-82 grams of protein per day.

This sounds like a big number, but trust us, it's easy to get there, even if you're a vegetarian. Below is a breakdown of a few of our most common protein go-to's with respective gram content. 

  • One serving of chicken (3 oz) = 21 grams
  • One cup of Greek yogurt = 18 grams 
  • One serving of lean beef (3 oz) = 22 grams
  • One cup of cooked beans = 15 grams
  • One egg = 7 grams 

Where can you get protein?

Protein comes from so many sources like poultry, fish, pork and beef, eggs, nuts, Greek yogurt, soy, and beans or lentils, but did you know that some vegetables pack a surprising punch of protein?

  • One cup of edamame = 18 grams
  • One cup of green peas = 8.5 grams
  • One medium size potato with skin = 5 grams
  • One cup of broccoli = 3 grams
  • One quarter block of extra firm tofu = 9 grams

Protein and your bones

We need protein (and calcium during menopause) to support bone health as we age. Women generally understand the importance of a diet rich in calcium to support bone health, but it's also important to consume adequate protein.

Studies have shown that people who eat an adequate amount of protein each day generally have good bone health, but those who do not can have compromised bone health, as it has been proven that the body absorbs more calcium when the diet is adequate in protein

The bottom line: do your best to get your proteins from natural sources like the ones listed above.

Be cognizant not to overdo red meat and processed meats as they may lead to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. If you are tempted to purchase a food product because its label boasts high amounts of protein (and you've fallen short that day), read the entire label to see what other items might be hidden inside. Oftentimes products like bars and yogurt may be marketed to us as "healthy" because of their protein composition, but dangerous amounts of sugars might end up sabotaging our good work. 

 

Author

Shannon Perry

November 9, 2018
Director of Programming & Media

Medically Reviewed By

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