Protein - How Much is Enough? + Juicy Baked Chicken
Protein is not just for great skin, hair, and nails; it's critical for health. Without it, you wouldn't be able to repair damage, digest food, fight infections, build muscle and bone, create hormones, and even think and have good moods. Without it there would be no more “swole” and then where would all those juice monkeys the Bachelorette be?
Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein's great benefits for metabolism boosting, keeping us feeling full, and weight management.
Protein is life giving, and this is a given.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS ENOUGH
There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need.
Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.8 g/kg (0.36 g/lb) per day.
So, for a 68 kg (150 lb) healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.
Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It's not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It's not enough for athletes, seniors or those recovering from an injury, either. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim closer to 1.3 g/kg (0.6 g/lb) per day.
Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that's common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS TOO MUCH?
Now I know this part will be a hot button issue for some people. I once got in a very heated debate with a juice up muscle junky with no neck that I used to work with (aka – I yelled at his nonsense and was super passive aggressive towards him for the rest of the day). But there is such thing as TOO MUCH protein.
As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its "thermic effect." The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories). More calories than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.
If you’re concerned that high protein intake harms healthy kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. This usually only becomes a problem in people who already have kidney issues.
FUN FACT: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS IN FOOD?
A 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g protein.
A 3.5 oz can of salmon has 20 g protein.
½ cup cooked beans contain 6-9 g protein.
A large egg contains 6 g protein.
¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g protein.
1 medium baked potato contains 3 g protein.
For some people it can be really easy to go overboard on the protein, if they eat 6 small meals a day with protein at every sitting. You need to take into account how you eat before deciding how much protein you should be having with each meal.
It is more than attainable to hit your recommended protein requirements as a meat eater. Vegetarians and vegans might need to pay a little bit more attention to make sure they are getting what they need in a day, but it is still incredibly doable. The real challenge for Vegans is making sure they are getting enough of all the amino acids (the building blocks in protein) as plant based proteins do not always contain all of the essential amino acids.
If you are worried that you aren’t getting enough protein, too much protein or want to make sure you have the right amino acid balance, book a FREE 15 minute consult with me and I can take a look at what you are eating to know if you are on the right track.
Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. “Enough” is about 0.8 - 1.3 g/kg (0.36 - 0.6 g/lb) per day. If you're a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you're an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.
Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it's best to have just enough.
I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Or have you gone too far the other way and adopted the idea that more is better, eating too much protein?
JUICY BAKED CHICKEN BREASTS
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper ½ tsp garlic powder ½ tsp paprika
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a layer of parchment paper on a baking dish.
Place the chicken breasts in the prepared dish. Brush on both sides with olive oil.
In a small bowl, mix spices until combined. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the chicken on both sides.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to at least 165°F at the thickest part.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Serve with lots of veggies.