How much protein is a good thing?
I love to hear from you and am so glad that my last post, Is a Paleo Diet for Me? (Part 1), got you thinking!
One reader asked me to clarify how to know the amount of protein to consume daily – which is such a great question that I decided to share the answer here.
Step 1: Calculate the safe and healthy minimum amount of protein your body needs each day.
Take your weight in pounds, divide by 2.2, then multiply by 0.8 (if you don’t exercise) or 1.4 (if you do exercise regularly). This gives you the grams of protein per day.
For a woman who weighs 140 pounds and does not exercise, that would be a minimum of 51 grams of protein per day. For an active person, you really need to add more protein. A person who weighs 140 pounds and exercises 30-45 minutes, 3 to 4 times per week, should eat 115 grams of protein per day.
Professional athletes, children, teenagers, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women need even more protein.
Step 2: Understand what is a gram of protein.
Don’t think of it terms of weight. Grams is the way protein, fat and carbohydrates are measured in food. So if you look at the label on the package, next to “protein” it will show a number with a “g” which stands for grams.
For foods without a package (which are the best choice anyway), I find it is pretty easy to Google “how many grams of protein in 2 ounces of chicken” for example, or “in 2 Tb almond butter.”
Here are a few high protein foods and the amount of protein in them:
- 2 ounces chicken breast – 13 grams of protein
- 3 ounces of turkey breast – 14 grams of protein
- 2 Tb almond butter – 7 grams of protein
- 1/4 cup almonds or pumpkin seeds – 7 grams of protein
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, walnuts or flaxseeds – 5 grams of protein
- 2 ounces salmon – 12 grams of protein
- 2 slices of turkey bacon – approximately 6 grams of protein
- 1 scoop of pea protein powder – approximately 30 grams of protein
Step 3. Spread those grams of protein across your day of eating.
Now that you have a sense of how much protein and food that you need each day, the trick is to spread that out through the day so that your body has a consistent supply.
I suggest dividing your total grams of protein for the day by 5 or 6, which allows you to evenly distribute protein to each meal you eat, and to eat every 2 to 4 hours through the day. These are what I call “mini-meals” or “half-meals.”
51 grams (from the example above) divided into 6 meals would be 8.5 grams of protein for each meal. Some meals may have a little more than that, and others a little less – the important thing is to have some protein each time you eat.
To get a better sense of how this looks in a meal plan, I created an example for you here. Plus, I included 3 weeks of example meals in The Stress Remedy book (as well as 50 pages of recipes) so that you can have lots of guidance and practice getting the hang of eating this way.
Wellness to you!