The Protein Puzzle: How Much is Enough?

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Hi LC readers! It’s Allison here. Between low-carb crazes, vegan fads, and every other popular diet and lifestyle trends that have arisen in years past, I often find myself getting lost in a world of food facts. It seems that there are new bandwagons to jump on daily. And I have to be perfectly honest… it gets confusing! I’ve experimented with following a few different diets in the past—ranging from vegan to paleo—and the one thing I have learned is that you have to stick with what works for your body. 

Everyone’s bodies are different, so our diets should be different too. With this topic in mind, I recently chatted with Karena and Katrina, the girls over at Tone It Up, who gave me a few tips about one extremely crucial factor that everyone’s diet should include. So whether you’re a devout meat lover or a strict herbivore, here is the truth about protein…

1. How much is enough?

According to Karena and Katrina, the amount of protein each person needs in their daily diet depends specifically on their activity level, body type, and fitness goals. “An active woman may need anywhere from 50-60 grams per day, but you may need more or less depending on your routine.” To put that into perspective, one egg has about six grams of protein, a cup of Greek yogurt has 18 grams of protein, and chicken breast that’s about the size of your fist has 30 grams of protein. Furthermore, Livestrong says that 10 to 35 percent of our daily calories consumed should come from protein. The more active you are, the closer your daily intake should be to 35 percent. And similarly, the less active you are, the closer your protein intake should be to 10 percent. Eating some source of protein at all of your meals and snacks each day will help you get the amount you need. And if you’re going to kick up your workout routine, make sure to up the ante on your protein intake too!

2. How can vegans and vegetarians eat enough protein throughout the day?

Vegans and vegetarians have a bit of a protein puzzle of their own because they exclude meat or animal products (or both!) from their diets. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, it’s important to know which foods will help you get enough protein throughout the day. Karena and Katrina recommend trying quinoa and spirulina, which are some of the few complete sources of plant-based proteins. “Add a little quinoa to your lean, clean and green salad.” You can also combine certain foods, like legumes with grains or nuts, to create complete proteins. Below is a little list I found on the Vegetarian Resource Group of vegan and vegetarian foods and the grams of protein they have per cup. Keep this in mind the next time you want to make a protein-packed meal:

  • Lentils – 18 grams per 1 cup
  • Chickpeas – 12 grams per 1 cup
  • Tempeh – 41 grams per 1 cup
  • Black beans – 15 grams per 1 cup
  • Tofu – 11 per 4 ounces
  • Quinoa – 9 grams per 1 cup

3. Are there wrong and right types of proteins?
Contrary to common belief, just because something is high in protein doesn’t mean it is good for you. There are wrong and right types of proteins, and you just have to keep an eye out for the healthy ones. For example, fatty meats like hamburgers, pepperoni, sausage or meatballs are not lean sources of protein. In fact, all of these meats are some of the highest sources of saturated fats, according to Healthaliciousness. Steer clear of saturated fats and opt for lean protein sources like fish, chicken, or any of the vegetarian options listed above. And those protein bars you like to eat every morning?  Most of them aren’t exactly great either. When you eat a protein bar or a protein shake, you may think you’re getting as much protein as eating a piece of chicken. But you are actually loading up your body with chemicals, hidden calories, extra carbs, and tons of sugar (so that they don’t taste like chalk!). If you’re on the go and you need a quick protein fix, grab a bar or whip up a protein shake, but only once in a while. You are much better off getting the nutrients and vitamins from eating real foods like chicken or quinoa than gulping down a processed, powdery shake.

I hope you liked figuring out this protein puzzle with me! And I’d love to know…

What topic would you like to see us cover in our next Get Fit post on LaurenConrad.com?

Leave your requests below!

xx
Allison

Team LC

Photo: Red Star to Lone Star
Sources: Tone It Up, About Exercise, Livestrong, The Vegetarian Resource Group, Healthaliciousness, Greatist
Categories: Allison Norton, Get Fit, Health
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  • Ashley Rizzardo

    Thanks for this post, Allison! My mother and I are in kind of a food conundrum since we’ve started watching all these food documentaries and paying attention to what we are eating. #3 is definitely very much appreciated!

    Ashley
    http://allthatglitters.co.nr

  • Katelin Absher

    Best on the go healthy snacks for work/school!!

    http://www.katelinkonfidential.blogspot.com

  • Ashley at Sincerely Miss Ash

    This was a great post!!

    xo,
    Sincerely Miss Ash

  • Ashley at Sincerely Miss Ash

    This was a great post!

    xo,
    http://sincerelymissashley.blogspot.ca

  • Ashley

    Very informative post! Nuts and seeds are also great snacks, some varieties more so than others. http://dreamliveandrepeat.blogspot.com/

  • suzanne

    I love learning more about nutrition, I think it is so important :)
    xoxo
    Suzanne from http://www.writtenbysuzanne.com

  • Ana Sofia

    Great tips :) it’s really important have real information about food.

    Xoxo,
    http://mmthanwords.blogspot.pt/

  • Leanne

    Thanks for the protein info! Seems I haven’t been eating enough.

    Love from South Africa

    http://arumlilea.blogspot.com

  • samantha koutny

    best way for beginners of being fit/exercise to get into the groove…like what exercise definitely should be done and cardinal rules of eating healthy

  • Beautiful Insanity

    Healthy eating makes all the difference in the world! Eating the right amount of protein will make your muscles repair faster from a work out and make the next work out more enjoyable! :)
    Marissa

    http://marissamcmahon.wordpress.com/

  • Amanda Lehrke

    Loved this article, it was so helpful!!! Can you do an article about dairy and getting enough calcium? I stop drinking milk because I’ve a bunch of bad things about it, I drink almond milk/coconut milk/soy milk instead but I’m not sure if this is enough!

  • Taanjaa

    I think it’s so confusing with all the rules for protein. Thanks for trying to make it simpelt :)

    http://tanjamortensen.com/

  • Deanne Castro

    Thanks for sharing! It’s good to know these things!

    For more on fashion and beauty checko out my blog: http://myfashavenue.com/

    Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @MyFashAvenue

    xo
    Deanne

  • Rachel Formella

    Love this! It’s great to be reminded of what food is good for your body. Also love that Karena and Katrina are mentioned, those girls are amazing!

  • Raven Locks

    FINALLY! Someone said it. I’m so glad you wrote this, Allison. I’m tired of reading article after article on how much protein you should eat. This one actually made sense and I’ve been saying this for quite a while now. It really DOES depend on you and your lifestyle. We all just have to pay attention to what our bodies tell us. Some days my body “”tells”” me I need more protein than other days. And that’s usually when I am more active.

    Whey protein is also a great form of protein. I have every once and a while. The kind I get comes from grass fed cows (from Dr. Mercola), so it’s much better for you. But I really don’t need it every day :)

    Great article!

    xo Azu

    http://www.raven-locks.blogspot.com

  • sarat1011

    I second this request. I do drink cow’s milk (of the 2% variety), but I would like to know other food sources of calcium and vitamin D.

  • Tanisha

    I’d like to see something about different types of exercise like the benefits of cross training like insanity compared to yoga. and maybe a workout with a schedule that is doable for a busy person. It would be great if there was a book or a meal plan that was in a calendar form. I love the bikini diet but what about after the summer?

  • Sam

    I loved that list of vegan foods that contain protein.
    I am very active (10 workouts a week) and i am always looking for ways to improve my diet! Thanks so much Allison!

    Sam

    http://recherchentlabeaute.wordpress.com/

  • Thafeez

    I would love to see an article on what to eat/avoid at a party/banquet buffet and how to bounce back from a weekend of weddings, birthday parties, etc.

  • Angie

    It should probably be added that K&K have their own protein (Perfect Fit Protein) that they mix with their food & smoothies. It’s natural, but when you mention protein shakes being bad for you, that’s probably something that should be noted.

    I like your fitness articles, but I agree that there should be some that focus on year-round, not just gearing up for summer. We should be healthy all year, not because we want to look good in a bathing suit.

    I also agree with the other comment — something on the different milks would be nice – maybe a chart comparing soy, almond, rice, coconut and cow’s milk.

  • Hutch

    Thanks for the share! Great read :D

  • hooleywithaz

    love this idea! you’ve just described my main issues with staying fit in the summer!

  • Abigail Nedved

    Great article! I LOVE how you said that every body is different and requires different amounts of protein. So true!!

  • nicolemariax

    This was really helpful! Thanks :)

  • Harmony

    John Hopkins just came out with a study that proves meat causes cancer . I am the only vegetarian in my family and the only healthy person. For me its a moral choice as well as health, you cannot say you love any animals and eat meat. Just as you cannot have good health and eat meat.
    Good vegetarian website resource, Thanks :)

  • Harmony

    Next topic, how to figure our calorie intake vs work to burn optimum amount of calories

  • Virginia Tucker

    I’d love to see an article about tips on how to live a healthy gluten free lifestyle. So many gluten free products are laden with sugar, starches, and refined flours. Can you give some advice about that or maybe some yummy recipes?
    Xoxo,
    V

  • Merije Ajvazi

    Great info! Love this read. I’m a vegetarian and am always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into my diet. Sometimes its hard with my schedule but this post is really helpful! I’ve found that whey protein is also a great source! I’ve been using Tera’swhey alot lately (www.teraswhey.com). Its USDA certified organic and contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors. Amazing product and taste’s delicious!

  • Megan Elliott

    Love these tips! As a vegetarian, I wish more people knew that there are many more sources of protein besides meat!

    xo Megan, http://lushtoblush.com/

  • Erin mcinnes

    I LOVE tera’swhey! Whey protein is a great supplement to my diet to get the protein I need everyday. I put 2 scoops (21g of protein) in my smoothie and it tastes great, and it’s organic, which is certainly a plus. So many protein powders on the market are filled with chemicals and additives, so I love that tera’swhey is pure whey!

  • Tara Yang

    OMG! I love tera’swhey! It’s the first thing I drink in the morning for breakfast and right after my workouts! I usually do intense strength training and cardio so you can only imagine how sore I would get the next day, but tera’swhey helps me from any body aches. I love the Organic Blueberry flavor mixed with just water! It tastes great and the variety of flavors are wonderful!

  • JANET WINSLET

    heloful!!!it is good to keep fit.

  • JANET WINSLET

    Helpful!!! It is important to keep fit.

  • Bunny Golightly

    Spirulina is also a great plant protein source and so easy to integrate into one’s life. It can contain up to 71 % protein!

    Check out my blogpost on this:

    http://purepowerpanda.blogspot.de/2013/05/rawr-spirulina-dinosaur-of-superfoods.html

    Interested in a delicious sweet smoothie recipe with spirulina?

    Here’s my video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UueZN5R_7TE

    Have a wonderful day everyone!

  • kalamityray

    Great advice! Have recently been eating a veggie based diet most days, so I’m having to watch this pretty closely to make sure I’m getting enough protein, and to make sure I don’t go crazy on carbs! http://makeyourhairgrowfaster.net/

  • Lattelane

    Great advice! I do have to say I have found a protein bar that isn’t loaded with all the extra junk: the Lara Alt Bar. It has around 7 dried fruit ingredients, depending on the flavor, but it also contains pea protein powder. Peas are legumes like peanuts, so they are quite rich in the protein area. These Lara Bars are also sweetened with brown rice syrup, so there is no excess fructose or glucose that honey or agave might add.

  • Pingback: Protein Persuasion | Truffles of Truth()

  • Happy Healthy Girl

    If we add spinach, green peas, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and sweet corns they also have optimum protein level. I always add vegetables in my smoothies and my juices as they are more nutritious and i always salads with my meal

    http://www.stayhappynhealthy.com

    • http://www.smart-twenties.com/ Samantha Brown

      I thought I knew a lot about this stuff but I didn’t know that green peas, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and sweet corn are high in protein!

      To stay full I make sure I have protein as a key part of every meal and eat A LOT of chicken breast!

      Sam xx
      http://www.smart-twenties.com – how to make the most of your twenties

  • ambar

    Thank u for taking in count to vegan and vegetarian people! :)

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