Are You Getting Enough Protein?
Written by: Denise John, PhD
Published on: September 15, 2022
Protein is key for helping prevent muscle loss. It’s also critical in creating hormones (e.g., insulin and thyroid hormones), neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin and dopamine), enzymes, and antibodies, which determine how well our bodies function and, as a result, how we feel.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The right amount of protein depends on your individual health and lifestyle. Along with talking to your doctor, here are some general guidelines to consider.
For both women and men, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is based on your body weight: 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, which is about 54 grams a day for a person weighing 150 pounds (68 kilograms). Physical activity and age can affect how much protein we need. If you’re relatively active, you’re going to need more protein to compensate for the breakdown and utilization of proteins that occur while you’re moving.
We also need to consume more protein as we age. Studies show that consuming more protein, about 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, can help prevent age-related muscle loss, which can impair physical movement in older adults.
Getting the Right Protein Sources
Clean Green Protein – Vanilla
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Clean Green Protein – Chocolate
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Our bodies can make more than half of the 20 amino acids we need. There are nine that we can’t make: phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine. (They’re called essential amino acids because we must get them from food.)
Protein sources are referred to as complete or incomplete, but the names are a bit misleading. Complete protein sources include animal-based foods that contain the nine essential amino acids (e.g., meat, fish, poultry, and eggs). Incomplete protein sources—plant-based foods (e.g., legumes, nuts, and seeds)—contain all nine essential amino acids, but the amount of one amino acid or more is lower than the dietary requirements.
There are some plant-based foods that meet the amino acid dietary requirements and are considered complete protein sources, like soy, quinoa, amaranth, and hemp and chia seeds. Even so, generally all plant-based proteins, including complete ones, are lower in all the essential amino acids than animal-based protein sources. If you’re eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s important to combine different plant-based protein sources so that you get enough essential amino acids.
Supplementing with a combination of plant-based protein sources can help you get the protein you need. We love these plant-based protein powders from InBloom, which contain a blend of protein from pea, chickpea seed, chia seed, coconut flour, hempseed, duckweed, and pumpkin seed—along with a boost of wellness-supporting botanicals like reishi, elderberry, dandelion, cinnamon, and ginger.* Just mix one single-serving packet into water, your favorite plant-based milk, or your morning smoothie.
If you’re looking for a shortcut, this electric blender bottle and pod system gets the job done in a fraction of the time. To make a protein smoothie, just pop the premeasured freeze-dried ingredients into the bottle’s cap, add water or your favorite alt milk, and click the bottle on and you’re good to go in seconds.
TEX-MEX BREAKFAST TACO BAR
Eggs are a great source of protein. Add as many (or as few) fixings as you’d like. Estimated protein content: 39 grams per serving (without the fixings).
SLOW-ROASTED SALMON WITH SHALLOTS, GARLIC, CORIANDER, AND LEMON
A great way to get protein (and omega-3 fats). Estimated protein content: 27 to 41 grams per serving.
CROCK-POT TURKEY MEATBALLS
These simmer all day, so the only thing you have to do is cook the pasta (or polenta) when you get home. Estimated protein content: 32 to 48 grams per serving.
PAN-ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH MUSHROOMS AND THYME
If you want a comforting, falling-off-the-bone meat dish without babysitting a roast all day, might we suggest the humble chicken thigh? Estimated protein content: 42 grams per serving.
CANNELLINI BEAN AND QUINOA BURGERS
These vegan and gluten-free burgers are easier to make than they look. Estimated protein content: 6 grams per serving.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.