A Beginner’s Guide to Protein

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A Beginner’s Guide to Protein

Protein powder and bars are trendy supplements for bodybuilders to bulk up. But, is it really necessary for us regular folks to consume these products in order to lose weight and build muscle?

Before supplementing your diet with protein, determine if you are already getting enough from the foods you eat.

How to determine protein needs

Our body changes every day as cells grow, divide and die—these processes depend on protein to supply vital building blocks to our cells. Because of this, you need to eat enough protein to maintain lean muscle mass and support other important body functions, which you can read more about in Nutrition 101: Protein.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) predicts how much protein you should eat daily to guard against lean muscle loss. The RDA for protein is 0.8 gram/kilogram of body weight, but this is a minimum for the average sedentary adult, a.k.a. “weekend warrior.” MyFitnessPal calculates protein intake to be 20% of your daily calories, which is likely more than enough to maintain muscle mass. If you want to check, here’s how to calculate the minimum amount of protein you should be eating:

Step 1: Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms.
Step 2: Multiply your weight in kilograms X 0.8 to get the amount (in grams) of protein you should be eating to maintain muscle mass.

Does this match your protein goal in the app?

hi-tech tip

If you exercise regularly—particularly if you log 1 hour or more of moderate to vigorous exercise several days per week—the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends more protein. Their recommendation for an active person is to eat 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight on the days that you exercise. You can use the same steps above to calculate the amount of protein (in grams) you’d need on the days when you exercise.

For endurance activities (think swimming, biking, running), stick to 1.2 to 1.4 gram/kilogram.

For strength activities (think weight lifting), go with 1.4 to 2 grams/kilogram.

GETTING PROTEIN FROM WHOLE FOODS

If you’d rather reach for real food to meet your protein needs, we’re right there with you! Getting all your protein from food is super realistic. A sedentary woman weighing 127 pounds only needs a daily dose of about 46 grams of protein, which she can meet by eating 3 ounces of chicken breast, one large egg, a handful of almonds and a stick of string cheese.

You’re probably saying, “I can eat that!” For most people, this amount of food daily is no biggie. Your own needs might be different, of course, but to help you plan your protein, here’s a quick list of protein-rich foods you can reach for:

ANIMAL SOURCES PLANT SOURCES
Food (serving) Cal Pro (g) Food (serving) Cal Pro (g)
Skinless chicken (3 ounces) 141 28 Pinto beans (½ cup) 197 11
Steak (3 oz) 158 26 Lentils (½ cup) 101 9
Roasted turkey (3 oz) 135 25 Black beans (½ cup) 114 8
Lamb (3 oz) 172 23 Chickpeas (½ cup) 134 7
Pork (3 oz) 122 22 Black eyed peas (½ cup) 100 7
Salmon (3 oz) 155 22 Quinoa (½ cup) 111 4
Tuna (3 oz) 99 22 Green peas (½ cup) 59 4
Shrimp (3 oz) 101 20
Lobster (3 oz) 76 16
Scallops (3 oz) 75 14

 

EGG & DAIRY NUTS & SEEDS
Food (serving) Cal Pro (g) Food (serving) Cal Pro (g)
Greek yogurt (6 oz) 100 18 Peanuts (1 oz) 166 7
Cottage cheese, 1% fat (4 oz) 81 14 Peanut butter (1 oz) 188 7
Regular yogurt, nonfat (1 cup) 100 11 Almonds (1 oz) 163 6
Skim milk (1 cup) 86 8 Flax seeds (1 oz) 140 6
Mozzarella (1 oz) 72 7 Chia seeds (1 oz) 138 5
String cheese, non-fat (1 piece) 50 6 Walnuts (1 oz) 185 4
Large egg (1) 71 6

Protein charts courtesy of Today’s Dietitian

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When it comes to protein, most of us don’t need supplemental help and can easily meet our needs from a well-balanced diet, but if you have above-average protein needs and have a hard time getting enough from your diet, supplementation may be appropriate. You can sneak in additional protein with whole foods but, from a lifestyle perspective, there are a few reasons why protein supplements, in bar or powder form, may make sense:

1. CONVENIENCE

Protein powder and bars can provide a high-quality snack with approximately 20-30 grams of protein for refueling after a tough workout, or eating on the go.

2. COST

Depending on the protein supplement you buy, it may actually be more cost effective to use a supplement than purchase more pricey foods like meat and fish. Whey protein powder is about $10-15/pound but also has a longer shelf life than fresh, protein-rich foods.

3. FEASIBILITY

Vegan diets rely on plant sources to supply protein and require eating a variety of foods since plant sources rarely contain all of the essential amino acids. For vegans who exercise intensely or strength train, protein supplements may be a useful.

PROTEIN POWDER BASICS

When it comes to protein, quality matters. This is why scientists came up with the “protein digestibility corrected amino acid score” (PDCAAS)–yes, it’s a mouthful! This score tells you protein quality as measured by: 1) how “complete” the protein is and, 2) how easily digestible it is.

The PDCAAS scores protein sources from 0-1 with 1 being the highest. A score of 1 is assigned to egg white, which contains all 9 essential amino acids and is easily digested and absorbed. Ideally, your protein powder supplement should score as close to 1 as possible, but this depends on the source of protein it’s made from. Here are the 3 most common sources of protein that powers your powder:

1. WHEY AND CASEIN (PDCAAS=1)

These are proteins extracted from milk that are “complete” proteins, easily absorbed by the body and relatively inexpensive. Plus, these milk proteins contain branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) to encourage muscle building during strength training. The downside is that this protein source is unsuitable for vegans and people with lactose intolerance or milk protein allergies.

2. SOY PROTEIN (PDCAAS= 1)

It’s plant-based, contains all 9 essential amino acids and is inexpensive. Soy protein powder is a great alternative for vegans who can’t take whey or casein, but wouldn’t be ideal for those with soy allergies.

3. OTHER PLANT-BASED PROTEINS

Pea (PDCAAS=0.69), rice (PDCAAS=0.47) and hemp (PDCAAS= 0.46) proteins score low on the PDCAAS because they don’t provide all 9 essential amino acids when taken as a stand-alone source, and the rice and hemp proteins are not readily digestible. For this reason, they are usually found together in a plant-based protein powder supplement mix. While these mixes can be hypoallergenic, we’d still suggest whey, casein and soy if you can stomach them.

3 TIPS FOR FUELING WITH PROTEIN POWDER

1. CHOOSE WHEY WHEN POSSIBLE

If you’re considering a protein supplement to increase muscle size and strength, whey is the way to go–as long as you don’t have milk intolerance. It’s an inexpensive, high-quality protein that is quickly usable by your muscles.

2. LOG YOUR PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS

Don’t forget that supplements (and the milk you mix it with) have calories, too, and can contribute to excess weight gain if you aren’t mindful.

3. SUPPLEMENT WITH EXERCISE IN MIND

Consuming protein powder alone won’t get you a lean, mean physique–you’ll still need to shape up with some push-up, squatting, and burpie fun.

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PROTEIN BAR BASICS

Like protein powder, bar supplements use the same sources listed above to add protein into a portable snack. Unlike powder, bars generally contain more calories, carbs, fat, and sodium for any given amount of protein. However, this is because you’re expected to mix powder supplements with milk to add in more of the other macros.! Bars provide a quick,mindless, no-mix way of getting post-workout nutrition. This table will help you visualize the basic nutritional differences (but really read the label):

Cal Pro(g) Carb(g) Sugar(g) Fat(g)
Bars 200-300 15-30 15-40 5-20 5-10
Powder* 80-200 15-30 <10 1-5 <5

*Before mixing with milk.

3 TIPS FOR FUELING WITH PROTEIN BARS

1. READ THE INGREDIENTS

 This is usually not a pretty place, but if you’re going to eat it, then read it. Protein bars can hide processed fibers, sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. Make sure you’re okay with these before biting.

2. LOG YOUR BAR SUPPLEMENTS

Some bars are meant to replace a whole meal, and they have the calories to do it. Logging bars helps you stay the course for your calorie goals.

3. SUPPLEMENT WITH EXERCISE IN MIND

Bars vary widely in the amount of carbs they contain. Choose higher-carb bars (20+ grams per serving) when you engaged in vigorous aerobic activities (running, swimming, biking), and lower-carb bars (<20 grams per serving) for non-aerobic activities.

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No matter what source you choose to meet your protein goals, remember these 3 tips to help you get the most out of protein:

1. SPREAD PROTEIN OUT OVER ALL YOUR MEALS

Protein-rich foods don’t come cheap, but you can maximize your body’s ability to digest, absorb and use protein by distributing it evenly throughout your meals and snacks. Just take the total grams of protein you need daily and divide it into the total number of meals and snacks you eat daily.

2. EAT PROTEIN IMMEDIATELY AFTER A BOUT OF EXERCISE

Having a high-protein snack soon after exercise (ideally before the 1-hour mark) is best because this is when muscles are sensitive to nutrients that it can use to repair and grow.

3. PAIR PROTEIN WITH CARBS

This is especially important when you’re refueling after aerobic exercise (like running) since protein is needed for muscle repair and carbs are needed to restock your muscles’ energy stores. Remember, the macros like to work together.

Do you power with protein? If so, share some tips below.

Related

  • GaleK

    Great info!!

  • JS

    There are several good reasons to favor soy protein over whey. First, it’s important to stick to non-GMO soy sources, as most of the negatives you may have heard about soy all are references to GMO soy products found in ‘mystery-meat” soy products, soy additives in highly processed foods, etc.

    Soybeans provide excellent nutrition and contain a number of biologically active components that collectively may be responsible for a variety of health benefits. However, most of the interest in soy is due to their isoflavone content Isoflavones have been rigorously studied for their protective effects against several chronic diseases including osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Isoflavones are essentially unique to soyfoods; no other commonly-consumed foods comes close to having these unique benefits.

    The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines call for increasing the intake of plant protein. Soyfoods are an excellent way to do just that. The quality of soy protein is comparable to animal protein but soyfoods contain only minimal amounts of saturated fat. A suggested daily intake of soyfoods (based on clinical research and studies of Asian diets, which are high in soy protein) would be about 15-25 grams, depending on overall protein intake.

    As far as choosing Whey over Soy in powdered supplements — that’s broadly true for weightlifters, but for weight loss, a non-GMO soy supplement that includes Luceine (not all soy supplements do) has been clinically shown to help dieters retain lean muscle mass while reducing overall calories….far better than other options (including whey).

    • jason d

      soy is looked down upon by many in the bodybuilding world due to its ability to aid in the production of estrogen, which is something bodybuilders avidly strive to curtail.

      • Cathy Fitzgerald

        and I avoid due to history of estrogen+ breast cancer

        • Krystal Smith

          Me too

          • sparrowflock

            I’ve read of this too, as long as 10 years ago. I avoid any possible estrogen sources due to a blood clotting disease: estrogen increases risk of blood clots

        • Celina Beach

          Odd.. I’ve been using soy protein to help decrease some of the effects of menopause, suck as hot flashes, because it’s only mimicking estrogen.

          • Cathy Fitzgerald

            soy does not mimic estrogen it activates estrogen receptors same as estrogen. . while many women with and without breast cancer may have small to moderate intake of soy I would hesitate to supplement with ER pos. breast cancer.

        • JS

          Clinical studies show soy protein in the diet is linked to a REDUCTION in likelihood of breast cancers….

      • Soy actually blocks estrogen receptors in the body. This can, in people who already don’t have enough estrogen, stimulate estrogen production (such as women in menopause) because it further “starves” the body of estrogen and the body kicks in to accommodate… but there’s no clinical evidence that soy consistently causes an over-abundance of estrogen (over-abundance means more than your body would ‘normally’ and healthily produce… i.e,, healthy women produce different amounts than healthy men)… the notion of soy ‘feminizing’ men is as unfounded as black cat notions.
        Because soy blocks estrogen receptors in the body, it also LOWERS estrogen in people who may be overproducing (hot flashes).
        These effects of soy are often oversimplified by the popular description “mimics estrogen”… which is not entirely technically accurate.
        In any case, it’s always good to follow a doctor’s advice. Try looking for clinical evidence (involving humans) and the effects of soy. Keep in mind that rat studies in this instance are not too useful, since we’ve found that rats metabolize soy in a totally different fashion than humans.
        Body builders have lots of good, intelligent reasons for favoring whey… but avoiding “feminizing soy” is the fallacious gym-legend. For those of us seeking to lose weight and not become Mr./Ms. Universe, soy has many many advantages.

      • Yes, this is true, but soy has phytoestrogen, which has estrogen like properties and chemical reactions inside the body. The debate is still strong oh whether or not these phytoestrogens are good for men or not.

        Considering that many Asian cultures intake soy, as well as the males, I believe this is where the real debate originates. These cultures do not use much GMOs and chemicals in their food, so the soy may actually be very beneficial to the males.

        Still, some believe that protein is protein, so if I had to go with soy for most of my protein needs, then I would make sure it was non GMO and sprouted. If it’s not sprouted then you are losing out on a lot of nutrients.

    • DrJKH

      You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Uni356

      I mix my whey with water and not milk is this the best route? I love my garden fresh veggies all non gmo and heirloom to boot and free range eggs I would only do the whey supplement after working hard in the yard.

  • Celina Beach

    My problem with most of the “whole food” sources of protein is that most of them are also higher in fat. The above list would be handier if the grams of Fat were also included (as they are in the powders and bars sections).

    • D.L. Watson

      Fat is actually good for you. It’s rich in essential nutrients that the body needs. Things without fat substitute it with sugar or sugar substitutes to give food their flavor. Which is why when you eat reduced fat or fat-free foods, you actually put yourself more at risk of diabetes and weight gain than anything.

      • Celina Beach

        Granted, fat is good for you – in moderation. Listing the fat grams of the listed proteins helps in that moderation.

        • qofdisks

          MFP calculates the fat for you. You are good. I do not worry about fat when I am low carbing because, I like my fat on my carbs!. When I cut down on carbs and calories, that fat takes care of itself. If I go over on my fat, I still lose weight.

  • kirstie

    I think the bit about how many grams of protein you should eat depending on your body weight is wrong.. you should times your weight in lbs by 0.8 not times your weight in kg by 0.8

    • callmesuri

      It should be your lean mass in kg x 0.8

      • Sharon Burress

        That omission stood out to me, too.
        If I am 5’7″, 75 years old, and weigh 300 pounds, I would be overdoing the protein to use this formula. I need protein to support my muscles, bones, and organs, not all the excess adipose tissue! The formula is fine; just use your ideal lean weight, not your total weight to compute with.

    • Tina Sackrison Raasch

      If you use weight, you need to go by lbm, not total weight. Or you can use kg like the article says. If you use total body weight the amount of protein is way to high.

      • callmesuri

        This gives wildly different results for optimal protein in the diet. depending on one’s body fat %. Using a calculation based on lean body mass (LBM) makes more sense since your body fat does not need protein support. If protein target is based on total body weight then as you lose body fat the protein target would decrease instead of stay the same. So that seems wrong. I’m following advise (marks daily apple article ) that gives me 1.5 to 2 times LBM (in kg) of protein per day. You can get an estimate of your lean body mass by taking body weight and specific measurements and put it into a calculator.

  • drpoley

    according to your calculations and My Fitness Pal account, I am right on target based on my activities! Thanks!

  • Sitara

    I usually take 4egg whites for lunch 3 times a week… Can I take the same for dinner instead of lunch…??? I’m trying to loss weight as my BMI is on the higher side and with the help of fitness pal app I calculate my daily energy requirements.. and taking egg thrice a week seems to help me maintain my protein intake…. please reply… Thank you

  • Char

    In fat reduction, are you using current or goal weight when calculating protein? I’ve heard contradicting info.

  • callmesuri

    The formula for how much protein your body needs is based on your lean mass in kg. Not your total weight in kg., your weight minus the weight of your body fat.

    • cassandralynde

      The author is correct in her descriptions of protein requirements (.8g of protein per kg of body weight for normal individuals). This is according to the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), which is the governing body regarding strength training.

      • Jo

        What so it’s total body weight then not lean mass?

  • Libby

    Can too many eggs in your diet cause nausea? I ask because I follow a high protein/Low carb diet (Bodytrim) have for 5 years now. Lost my weight (24kgs) over 8 months & now maintain my goal weight following the diet during week then have treats on the weekends followed by a protein only day on Monday to rid my body of the bad carbs I have consumed on the weekend. I drink at least 2.5- 3 litres of water a day. I have been experiencing nausea for nearly a week now following having had knee surgery & being back on my healthy diet. Family say it is to much eggs in my diet. Is that a possibility? What is an alternative easy breakfast option?? Thanks

    • Катерина Докузова

      bad carbs 😀 😀

    • Me

      If your nauseous after surgery it is probably the pain meds! That is a very common side effect.

      • Amanda

        I’m a nurse who works with a lot of patients after they have surgeries. For many people narcotics ( the pain meds prescribed after surgery) do cause nausea. If you’re experiencing nausea you may try taking your pain meds with food or switching to a different pain medication. Also the major side effect with pain medications is constipation so taking a stool softener with your pain pills once or twice a day is necessary for most people.

    • foxylady

      It certainly can be eggs. I used to have eggs everyday morning for my protein intake cause I love eggs. My body somehow was starting to react during and after my workouts as my stomach was cramping so bad. I started noticing that everything I ate that contained eggs was giving me rally bad stomach cramps, even after I waited 20 minutes before my workouts. So I had to stop eating eggs all at once. Instead of eggs, I do oatmeal with fruits in the morning because it’s easy to digest. On other days, I’ll drink a cup of low calorie designer whey protein 20 minutes before my workouts and after depending on the level of intensity of my workout. So far, it’s been great! I hope this helps…

    • qofdisks

      No. I have yard eggs and eat them every day.

      • Ethel Smith

        YARD EGGS ?

        • Uni356

          Fresh and free chickens that eating from the land daily I bet the kind I prefer as well YUM FREE RANGE

    • ToEz2Gain

      I would say your getting nausea due to the lack of carbs. Despite what the majority of the fitness community says carbs and protein from carbs are by far superior for body absorption and function then protein from meat. I followed 80/10/10 all carb and no meat no dairy diet and have been in better shape and health then ever before. For breakfast try Kashi cereal with almonds. It has 10g of protein 8g of fiber and if you use almond milk you’ll get the good fats you need as well. I eat a bowl of oatmeal just because it fills me up for a bit till my next meal and for some extra fiber and protein

  • Anne

    I workout for 30 minutes five days a week, my current weight being 49 kg and my base diet is 1,200 calories.
    According to this, my protein intake should be 40 g or 60g at the max.
    Why my MFP then says I need to take 150g per day then? I´m confused…

  • Debbie Mullins Hilt

    I had a kidney removed. My urologist forbids protein drinks, hard on kidneys. I was doing so well with the drinks. Weight is back.

    • imajane

      I donated a kidney and learned that too much protein is very hard on kidneys and that we need to be careful. We need to focus on high fiber instead of protein. There is plenty of protein in whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and vegetables. If you get 34 grams of fiber a day, you will lose weight and feel fantastic. Think plant fiber, not powders and mixes.

      • Jessie Bragg

        High-protein diets don’t cause kidney disease in healthy people… If you have a kidney disease its best to stay low

      • Vanessa Rae

        Animal protein is hard on the kidneys, people with renal issues SHOULD be vegan. Urologist told me to avoid protein altogether because dr’s assume you eat meat, and neglected to say that plant protein is fine for weak kidneys. I also have kidney issues and it took me years to straighten that quandary out by asking many experts and research. Lots of research..

    • Jennifer

      Hi, Debbie, I know this post was six months ago, but I had a kidney removed two years ago (rcc); my urologist told me that I didn’t have to change my eating habits. I do eat a lot of protein, only because I’m a stocky woman (I do have large muscle mass for a woman), but I do try to keep the protein down to about 100-120 g/day, 30g more on hard workout days. The only thing the doctor warned me about was high impact activities such as contact sports, skydiving etc… that would harm the remaining kidney. I drink a protein shake from Costco ($19.95 a case w/ 30g protein/serving) first thing in the morning and then divide the rest of the calories up throughout the day. I have remained constant in weight, but have lost about 10 lbs lately due to a change in diet (checking out a “slow” carb theory that seems to be working). Good luck in maintaining your remaining kidney. Don’t be too worried. A person can survive with 1/4 of one kidney healthily; but why take chances!

      • Debbie Mullins Hilt

        Hi Jen thanks for info.

  • MCPJ

    I worry that this touts soy too much. I’m vegan and avidly avoid all soy in my diet, especially as a consistent source of protein. My family has a history of breast cancer and our doctors have independently told us to avoid soy as it has been tied to breast cancer (like hormone replacement therapy). For my protein powder i use a blend of hemp, pea, flax etc… As well as high protein food in my diet. I believe that to be much healthier than using soy, but that’s just me!

    • Brittany Beall

      Dead on. I love a mix of hemp, pea, and flax for the same reason. Men should also not have soy due to the estrogen like feature of soy. Whey is also bad for your heart, not sure why it is still so heavily pushed either.

      • DrJKH

        It’s so heavily pushed because you have no clue what you’re talking about.

  • findingmyveganself

    What about fruit and veg for protein! Spinach, broccoli and kale are high in protein

  • Paula

    Great info. Thank you. I tend to stay away from soy since it’s in a lot of products already. The more I read about soy the more I stay away from it. I like using the whey and egg white protein shakes.

  • Jody O’Grady

    Okay I like the idea of bulking up on protein. Right now I consume 1200 calories a day. I shoot for 130 gr of carbs, and 40 gr of fiber, same with protein. After I did the math, I would have to add almost 25 more gr of protein. I am unable to exercise at this time due to medical issues. So how do I add that much protein and keep all my other goals for carbs and fiber.

    • Kimberly Smith

      I would shoot for the right amount of protein and then fat, and let the carbs fall where they may

      • Jody O’Grady

        But I read a scientific study that the body’s organs need 130 gr of carbs a day to function properly. If they don’t, they take what they need from muscle mass and other areas. I did find a way to get my protein up to at least 60 gr a day, fiber at least 40 and my carbs almost always 130 and staying under 1200 calories and even once in a while a glass of wine or a cocktail too. 🙂

        • Kimberly Smith

          I would be interested in your source. I could give you many more that counter that. For example “It’s recommended that you get 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories that you consume each day”.

          1Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (pg 41).

          A few google attempts however could not find a source about a min requirement for organ’s. Note, I am not a proponent of a low carb diet, I am just a proponent of getting sufficient protein and fats, and letting the carbs fall where they may fall. for me that still easily gives me 200+ grams of carbs to consume

          • Jody O’Grady

            I’ll find it I think I might have pinned it. But it doesn’t really matter because it’s working for me. The middle of December I weighed 207 now I am 174.2. I set up goals of 5 pounds at a time, I have 24 to go before I turn 60 next January. As soon as my shoulder heals(total shoulder replacement) I can see about fixing my feet and I’ll be a brand new woman. I am actually feeling good about myself, it’s been a very long time.

  • Ike Knight

    Pure whey protein isolate contains very little amounts of lactose. Avoid whey concentrate as it has a lot of lactose.

    • qofdisks

      “whey concentrate” powdered milk.

    • sparrowflock

      Thank you!

  • allyson womack

    How much protien is too much? I am moderately active (workout 4xweek) and want to loose 20lbs.

  • I thought that was an excellent suggestion with regard to logging your protein supplements. Very often weight gain can dampen the intended result of building lean muscle mass. I am not big on whey isolates because of how they acidify the body but certainly an option.

  • Shotglass

    Where did you get that formula? Its results differ significantly from another formula in common use: a lightly to moderately active person will require between .8g to 1.2g of protein per lb of lean body mass to sustain that mass.
    eg: a 165lb lightly active person (low level cardio 3x per week) has a 10%bf. This person has about 149lbs of lean body mass and would require an average of about 119g protein per day to maintain that mass whereas by your formula, if my calculations are correct, would only require about 54g protein per day.
    That’s such a HUGE difference that it cannot be easily ignored. I think I’ll err on the side of caution and follow the formula resulting in a larger amount of protein.

  • Jessica Shaffer

    spoken like a true dietitian <3

  • qofdisks

    Lactose is the carb part of milk anyway. When you cut your sugar and get used to it, you can taste the sweetness of that lactose. You are not allergic to the other two milk components being fat and protein.

  • qofdisks

    The absolute biggest problem is finding pro powder of any kind without artificial sweetener and yes, I consider stevia as being artificial. I went on a pre-surgical diet completely dependant on pro powder for a couple of months. I found that artificial sweetener stimulated my pancreas just like I ate sugar! I let down the insulin like crazy. Since I was eating so few calories, I went into insulin shock! Artificial sweet has a high glycemic index and can make you feel like you are starving. Real sugar in the form of sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup etc. is better for you in tiny quantities with your other calories. I also must say that I cannot abide the TASTE of artificial sweeteners including stevia and now I find out the nausea created is too much insulin and resulting hunger. I found only two powders and one was affordable. It is Nutrasweet plain medical. It is pure whey protein meant to be used in a feeding tube. It has a mild pleasant taste.

    • jurbo

      The same happens with me! I like RAW Protein powder by Garden of Life – they have one kind that’s unflavored and has no sweeteners – real or artificial. It’s a mix of organic sprouted rice, pea and other proteins, so it might be a nice break from what you’ve found. It’s a bit chalky, but I don’t mind.

    • JS

      Some producers are now using Munk fruit to sweeten protein powders.

  • John

    Would you still recommend protein after cardio only?

  • BlackJaques

    Trinh, In the’Whole Foods section’ you give an example of needing 46 grams of protein and state that you can get that from one lrg egg. However, right below that you chart a lrg egg as having just 6 grams of protein. That’s quite a difference! So how many eggs would the 127 lb woman need to get her protein? Would it be 1 egg, or approx 7 eggs?

    • Andrea Brooks Campbell

      The author wrote, “A sedentary woman weighing 127 pounds only needs a daily dose of about 46 grams of protein, which she can meet by eating 3 ounces of chicken breast, one large egg, a handful of almonds and a stick of string cheese.” I believe she was stating that the 46 grams would be met by eating ALL of these items in a given day, not one OR another of these items. Hope that helps clarify.

      • BlackJaques

        Thank you Andrea! Of course, you are right! I wasn’t reading it the way it was intended. Thanks for taking time from your day to clarify that. I was totally confused. Cheers!

  • Sarah Hudon-Miller

    I have tried several different protein powder and the best I’ve had so far is the Nectar Sweets Vanilla Bean Torte. I mix it with 20 oz of skim milk for breakfast and it’s about 300 calories and 43 g of protein! What an awesome way to start the day!

  • Michelle

    Hi Trinh,

    I’m working with a trainer and he has me doing 140 g of protein a day . It seems to differ alot from what is stated above. Can you offer guidance on this?

  • Paula

    I do not eat soy because it affects my calcium absorption.

  • Kathy Maddux

    Good info. Especially appreciate the conversion instructions so we know how much protein we really need!

  • nelliegurl

    Could someone PLEASE give me some information. I’ve asked my Dr and my nut and got no reasonable answer. I am 2 weeks out from bariatric surgery. 2 weeks pre-op I was required to do a hi protein liquid diet. (80-90 grams a day). Before this I have always had trouble with very sore feet, but not to the point that kept me from walking. I managed. During the two week before diet, the pain in my feet became so intense I would lay awake at night crying in pain. Not exaggerating! Now 2 weeks after, I have absolutely no pain. None! It’s a miracle!! BUT, it is very difficult in the beginning to get the required amount of protein in, due to restriction. So as of now I may only be getting 50 grams a day, and mostly from food. Yogurt, tuna, ground turkey and chicken. I am deathly afraid to go back on the protein shakes. I don’t want that pain again. Does anyone believe that too much protein can cause inflammation like I had? If so, what other type would you suggest? ( besides the whey) I appreciate any help you might provide! Thank you!!

    • Jennifer

      I had bariatric surgery as well, but the pain you are telling me about could be due to high uric acid content in your blood that settled in the tissues and/or joints, which can be painful. I suggest cherries or tart red cherry juice concentrate to help reduce the amount of uric acid in your blood. You should make a smoothie using Greek yogurt and cherries only (you will adapt to no sweetness in your diet soon. I did and I feel better for it AND I find I don’t crave my spice drops like I used to LOL). Frozen cherries are the cheapest! Good luck on the new chapter in your life!

    • msdrpepper

      You might want to consider what type of protein source you are getting in those types of shakes. I had stomach pains with some high protein and later on discovered that I’m allergic to soy. So I started looking for other sources of non-soy protein. One I like now is based on peas and maybe some beans, I can’t remember (I’m out and need to reorder). Just need to study the labels and research the ingredients. A good book I’ve owned and then bought the follow-on updated edition is “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Additives” or some such – author is Ruth Winter, not seeing it right this minute. Very helpful. There are other similar books and of course, the internet. I believe there are also some whey proteins made from animals who were not grown in a cage – free range, grass fed, never having antibiotics, growth hormones, never fed grain products etc. I have read that makes a difference in the quality of the whey produced. But I’ve been happier with the vegetarian or vegan (non-soy) sources of protein shakes and so I’ve stuck with that.

      The tart cherry juice mentioned below is EXCELLENT advice! My in-laws discovered that basically any form of tart or even sweet cherries helped my father-in-law when he had his periodic flareups with gout (he lived to be 93 years old, so evidently the gout didn’t kill him first!). They used tart juices, fresh cherries, etc. So don’t discount that advice – just don’t add sugar to it to tone down the tart (stevia would work but not regular sugar. Sugar will just add to the inflammation!).

      Hope that helps!!

  • msdrpepper

    I’m curious… being already way overweight, I’ve read suggestions that I should be eating the calories needed to sustain me at my goal weight, not at my current weight, as a way to nudge the weight down towards that goal. Should I be calculating protein needs on that same theory? or just calculate protein needs for my current weight and then adjusting as necessary as the weight comes off?? Thanks!

    • Gedrick

      Well for starters, you should stop drinking Dr. Pepper! Diet or otherwise. Soda is poison. Junk for your body. Garbage. Throw it away. It’s already wreaked havoc if you’re “already way overweight,” so put your foot down and stop letting it slowly murder you.

      Second, you want to calculate your needs for the goal weight.

      • msdrpepper

        Okay – I guess I forgot to clarify that I quit drinking DrPepper some 20-25 years ago, but I’ve had this online nickname “MsDrPepper” since the 1980’s on the old pre-Internet Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). So, I’ll cut you some slack on that snarky remark that had nothing to do with the specific question I actually asked, about protein levels.. But yea, I agree with you about it being junk and garbage, and that’s why I don’t drink any soda pop, diet or straight. just water.

      • DrJKH

        You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Smickee

    I am a new type 1a diabetic at age 50. I’ve never tracked anything until now. Finding information that is consistent with the endocrinologist but more I depth has been a struggle. Mostly for lack of knowledge on where to look.
    I found your information I crediby helpful. Ithe is straight forward and prectical enough to figure into my daily meals and snacks.
    I don’t care to supplement with bars but carry them in case I need some thing to tide me over between meals when I am out and about. The info on their ratios and benefits was helpful.
    Thanks!

  • Jerry Costman

    There are a lot of thoughts out there about protein. This is a great involved look at how protein can be natural and ways to get a good balance of protein from everyday foods. Knowing your sources and supplements is key.

  • Heli Bhatt

    What do you think about fake meats as a way to increase proteins in a vegetarian diet? I have been vegetarian all my life and have never tasted meat, so flavor or taste is not so important.. I only introduced myself to fake meats to increase proteins. But now that I know I should have real food, I am wondering are fake meats necessary for me… any thoughts?

    • Laurie conrad

      No because they are made from plants. Just eat plants.

      • DrJKH

        Plants are not what humans are supposed to eat.

        • Laurie conrad

          Humans only eat flesh? No foods that come from the plant world? No bread, biscuits, pasta, sauce, peanut butter, coffee, wine, juice, oranges, apples, bananas, cereal, waffles, oatmeal, pizza, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, hamburger buns, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, olive oil, cooking oil, french fries, herbs, spices, salt, sugar, maple syrup, chocolate, mashed potatoes, mushrooms, pastry, cookies, donuts, rice, cake, tortillas, refried beans, salsa, tortilla chips, potato chips, lemonade, green beans, broccoli, pumpkin pie, hash browns, home fries, peppers and onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pineapple, water melon, vanilla, blueberries, strawberries, corn on the cob, corn bread, hot dog buns . . .

        • Laurie conrad

          You don’t eat any plants? No potatoes, french fries, ketchup, spaghetti with sauce, bread, pasta, peanut butter, jelly, maple syrup, pancakes, waffles, tortillas, refried beans, guacamole, chips, salsa, breakfast cereal, oatmeal, cookies, beer, wine, chocolate, sugar, apples, lettuce, tomato, onions, onion rings, breading, baked potatoes, cole slaw, corn on the cob, zucchini, pumpkin pie . . . none of that of that stuff? Only breast milk, ovum, and flesh???

          • DrJKH

            Did I say that? Are you intentionally obtuse, or just not very bright? And a lotof your list is just plain absurd. Beer and wine? While plant derived, these are not plants. Plants are minimally nutritional to humans. We cannot eat only plants and live healthy. We are designed to primarily eat meat.

          • Laurie conrad

            You said “plants are not what humans are supposed to eat”. If I said “animals are not what humans are supposed to eat” would you deduce that I eat no animals? Or would that statement make you think I eat animals? So yes I made an assumption by your statement. Beer is made from grain, from plants. Wine is made from grapes, from plants. If food from plants is minimally nutritious and we cannot live healthy on a 100% plant based diet then how am I 47 years old, with blood tests every year from my doctor that come back perfectly healthy for all vitamins, minerals, etc. I am 100% healthy 5’3″ 125 pounds fit. I take no supplements and only see my doctor to test my blood once a year. How am I healthy? How am I alive? How does my blood work come back perfect if it is not healthy? I ask you not to believe the myths. I used to so I can understand. But now that I live it I am proof. My whole family is now plant based including my fiance and all of us are in perfect health including my 6’2″ 23 year old 185 pound son. All vitamins and minerals come from plants, not animals. Animals cannot synthesize vitamins and minerals without taking in plant foods or taking in an animal that took in plant foods. Plant foods extract nutrients from the soil and the sun and are therefore capable of broad band synthesis of protein. All of these nutrients become the produce of the plants and without these there would be no animals and no humans. Plants are where all nutrients come from. No plants = no animals or people. Plants are the source of all nutrition (technically soil and sun).

  • DrJKH

    This article is medically/scientifically incorrect.

    • Bid Daddy H

      Good DrJKH, do not limit yourself to just being a critic; you don’t need a degree for that! If you feel some of the comments are inaccurate, please share the correct information. That is why we post; so we can learn from each other’s experience and knowledge.

      • DrJKH

        I don’t have time to correct the numerous false information in this piece. The author should have taken the time to get a real education so she’d know the scientific facts.

  • MaddyMuller

    Great article.
    (Fidgeting….rofl too funny.)

  • Laurie conrad

    I get all of my protein from plants. Plants synthesize the proteins we need, not animals. These essential amino acids are only in the animal because the animal ate plants, or ate another animal that ate plants. The source is plants. I have never known a single person who was protein deficient, least of all myself, and this is because protein is in everything including a stalk of celery. I have, however, known many people with heart disease. And all of those people are my friends who include animal protein in their diet.

  • James W.

    What is the point in converting lbs. to kg. so that you can then apply a “kg. multiplier”. How about just using 1 step of having a “lbs. multiplier” that can be applied to lbs. In this case it would be 2.75. Divide your lbs. weight by that number and you’ll get the same result as converting to kg. and then multiplying by .8.

  • Vanessa Rae

    Why does this article not even mention tempeh, the king of vegan proteins? There is no protein powder that meets strict vegan standards. Any soy based protein powder product will be made from isolated soy proteins from raw (probably gmo) soy, and people should only eat cultured or fermented soy products made from organic non gmo soy- tempeh, tofu and soy sauces like tamari shoyu or Bragg’s to avoid serious health issues. MFP nutrition experts need to start sharing this info instead of pushing toxic soy isolates…

  • 3 Leaf Tea

    A great addition to any protein smoothie is matcha – a green tea powder from Japan. It’ll help give you a little boost of energy and it’s high in antioxidants. 3 Leaf Tea has a wide variety.

  • Joe

    Hi question is why from the leftover of cheeses and rIcotta making good pure protine thanks

  • Jennifer D

    Re: protein powders. Although the article states plant based protein powder can be hypoallergenic so can the other types of protein powders, it all depends on WHAT you are allergic to. My son has food allergies and is highly allergic to peas. The first ingredient in the plant based protein powder I just bought is peas however he can have whey protein no problem.

  • The cost always dictates what protein source I decide to go with. Personally I find protein powders to be much more cost efficient, convenient and effective.

  • Beth B

    I noticed “egg white protein powder” today at Trader Joe’s and I like the stats. Any thoughts on this type of protein? Thanks!