While the body has the capacity to store carbohydrate and fat, there is no such storage for protein, which is why it must be consumed daily. When too much protein is consumed, it is either used as an inefficient source of energy or converted to fat. Excessive protein consumption, whether from food sources or by liquid or powder supplements, may cause dehydration, as well as negatively impact the kidneys and bones. When protein is consumed in the range of 1.4 to 2.0 g/kg, there does not appear to be any negative effect on the kidneys and bones.
Some people don’t want to do the math and calculate their protein needs based on body weight. Instead, you can calculate your protein needs based on a percentage of your total calorie intake. We recommend protein to comprise 15 to 35 percent of your total calorie intake. That’s a pretty big range and there are a few factors that determine your requirements, including:
1. Activity level (sedentary, athlete, recreational athlete, etc.)
3. Goals (maintain muscle mass, build muscle mass, lose weight, etc.)
Best Types of Protein
Animal protein foods include fish, chicken, turkey, meat (from cow, lamb, pig or goat), milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs. These are considered high-quality proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids.
Most plant-based proteins are missing at least one essential amino acid and are therefore considered “incomplete” proteins. Exceptions include soy, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat, which contain all of the essential amino acids. Other plant-based proteins, including vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, are incomplete but when eaten during the same day (i.e., beans and rice) all the essential amino acids are available to the body.
Every meal should contain a protein, a healthy carb, vegetables and a healthy fat. Here are some of our favorite combinations that are easy to prepare and delicious!
-2/3 cup cooked black beans served over 1/2 cup cooked quinoa and topped with salsa and guacamole
-4 to 5 oz. wild Alaskan salmon, sautéed asparagus and wild rice, topped with slivered almonds
-2 poached eggs served on top of 2 slices whole-grain bread and 1/2 smashed avocado
-8 oz. plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup berries, 1 Tbsp. each of chia, hemp and ground flax seeds
-1 banana spread with 2 Tbsp. all-natural almond butter and topped with 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
-4 turkey meatballs served over whole-grain pasta or spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese