Protein is the nutrient of the moment. It’s thought to help you peel off pounds, keep you satisfied, help build muscles, maintain healthy joints and much more. It’s no surprise that some 60 percent of shoppers say they’re trying to up the protein in their diet.
With any nutrient that’s considered the “it” thing to have, there’s clearly lots of misinformation about it. In the case of protein, most adults are getting too much of it, and eating it all wrong. Here’s what you need to know about protein in your diet.
Reference Intake for Protein
The National Academy of Sciences has set the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein at 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein or 45 grams per day for women and 52 grams for men. The average intake of protein for women is about 75 grams a day and men average about 100 grams on any given day.
A lot of experts now recommend about twice as much protein as the DRI or 90 grams for women and 105 grams for men. Others suggest that we should try to get 1 gram of protein per pound of lean tissue. In either case, eating more protein doesn’t mean that you can just add more meat, milk, yogurt and chicken to your diet and you’ll lose weight. The idea is that you reduce the amount of carbs in your diet to accommodate a higher percentage of calorie from protein.
The Right Way to Eat Protein
The body utilizes protein’s amino acids best when you eat protein in three main doses (ie, in your main meals) per day. This type of distribution pattern is thought to be best for building muscle and aiding fat loss. Studies suggest three servings of about 25-30 grams per day is optimal and that eating little bits of protein several times a day is not as effective at either blunting appetite or building muscle tissue. What’s more, if you eat more than 30 grams protein at one time, your body can’t process that much and it’s likely to be stored as body fat. I suggest obtaining 25 grams at breakfast and lunch and up to 30 grams at dinner.
For some of my favorite go-to protein-rich recipes, try these:
Ways to use Greek yogurt