Protein Fact Sheets

Dietary protein has become a “hot” topic in the news. Health professionals along with consumers need to be knowledgeable about the latest research related to the beneficial effects of adequate dietary protein.  Dietary protein plays a key role in promoting appetite regulation, and preventing Sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle) and osteoporosis. The goal of these fact sheets is to highlight the role of dietary protein throughout the lifecycle; specifically for young children, women 18-45 years old, millennials and baby boomers, that can be shared by the busy practitioner. These up-to-date fact sheets offer audience specific rationale for optimal protein intake, RDA for dietary protein, common dietary protein sources and practical tips for including protein sources at all eating occasions. These fact sheets can be used as a single resource or accompany a broader discussion of the importance of a balanced diet, which includes physical activity, to achieve a healthy weight and active lifestyle. Feel free use personally or share with your respective clientele.

Protein for Young Children

When it can be a struggle to just get your little one to eat, sometimes serving a nutritious meal isn’t the highest priority. Adding protein throughout the day, including snacks, is a great way to make sure your kids eat enough while enjoying a nutritious diet.

Why Is Protein Important?

  • Protein is the only nutrient that supplies body cells with what they need to grow, build muscle and stay healthy.
  • Foods high in protein also provide other essential vitamins and minerals that can support strong bones, a healthy immune system, and help gain energy from food.
  • By eating protein-rich foods throughout the day, your kids will feel fuller between meals. This could result in less snacking.

Tips and Tricks

  • Encourage kids to eat protein-rich foods by letting them know that these foods help them to grow big and strong, just like their favorite action figure.
  • Stock the pantry and refrigerator with protein-rich foods that are an easy grab and go option.
  • Give kids choices between several protein-rich snacks. Giving kids a choice will make them more likely to eat the snack and teaches them to enjoy healthful foods.

Grab and Go Snack Ideas

For the Refrigerator

For the Pantry

1 hard-boiled egg

2 tablespoons nut butter (peanut, almond)

3 slices of lean deli meat (turkey, ham, roast beef)

½ cup homemade trail mix (almonds, peanuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips)

6 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt

3 ounces canned tuna/chicken/salmon

1 cup low-fat milk

¼ cup assorted nuts (pistachios, cashews, peanuts, almonds)

1 ounce string cheese

1 cup high-protein cereal

3 ounces cottage cheese

2 tablespoons bean dip/hummus

How Much Protein Does My Child Need?*

Age

Recommended Amount of Protein Per Day

1-3 years

13 grams

4-8 years

19 grams

9-13 years

34 grams

*Protein ranges based on the average weight of children in the respective age group.

Protein for Millennials

As you take on more responsibilities, do you find that you are sometimes too busy to think about eating healthful? Fortunately, adding protein rich foods into your diet is a quick and easy way to give you more energy to help you accomplish everything you want to do throughout the day.

Protein FAQ:

  • How does protein benefit me?
    • Eating a diet higher in protein and staying active may help you manage your weight through curbing your hunger. It can also preserve lean body muscle, which can help you burn more calories throughout the day.
  • How much protein do I need?
    • The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 54-72 grams of protein per day for a 150-200 pound adult. Use this as a general guideline for for the minimum amount of protein you need based on your body weight.
  • Which foods contain protein?
    • MEAT: Beef, poultry, pork, seafood, and eggs; 3 ounces of lean meat or poultry contain about 25 grams of protein.
    • DAIRY: Milk, cheese, and yogurt; 1 cup cow’s milk, soy milk, or yogurt contains about 8 grams of protein.
    • PLANTS: Soybeans, nuts, and seeds; grains, nuts, and vegetables contain about 2 grams of protein per serving; ¼ cup of roasted soybeans contains about 10 grams of protein.

Protein Pack Your Day!

  • Look at the foods below in bold, for ideas of how to include 5 grams of protein per suggested serving.

BREAKFAST

Make your own smoothie: blend 6 ounces low-fat Greek yogurt, ¾ cup frozen fruit, and ¾ cup juice.

SNACK AT THE OFFICE

Make your own trail mix snack bags: mix together ¼ cup almonds/peanuts, ¼ cup dried fruit, and 1 ounce dark chocolate to curb your hunger.

LUNCH

Pack and Go: Assemble 3 ounces of ham and 2 ounces of low-fat cheese on 2 slices of whole grain bread to satisfy your hunger. Add a side salad of; orange sections, baby spinach and 2 sliced hard boiled eggs all dressed with a dash of herbs, oil and vinegar for a nutrient balanced meal.

BEFORE A WORKOUT

Slice an apple and smear with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Add a cup of low-fat milk to get the maximum benefit from your workout and for post-exercise recovery.

DINNER

Combine 1 cup of whole wheat pasta with assorted veggies and 3 ounces salmon. Toss with olive oil and 1 ounce shredded parmesan cheese.

Healthy Eating at the Palm of Your Hand!

Did you know that pursuing a healthy lifestyle is as easy as using your cell phone?

Check out healthful menu planning apps and websites such as supertracker.org to help you make informed eating decisions.

“Like” or follow your favorite restaurants, supermarkets, and nutrition organizations on Facebook and Twitter. They often post daily specials on healthful items and menu selections. Followers may receive discounts for mentioning the post!

Pinterest can be a great resource for meal inspiration! Pinning can lead you to many high protein recipes and new ideas for an overall balanced diet.

Use a calorie counter/diet tracker app, such as MyFitnessPal, to keep track of how much protein you are getting throughout the day.

Follow credible health and nutrition professionals through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. However, make sure to review their education and credentials before entrusting your health in their hands.

Protein for Women Ages 18-45

Confused about your protein needs? As nutrition information is increasingly being shared, tweeted and blogged across the internet, you may have read many different recommendations about protein. So what’s the bottom line? Protein-rich foods are an important part of your diet and Americans usually consume at the lower end of the recommended range of intake. Whether you are busy juggling school or hauling around the kids, incorporating foods high in protein into every meal or snack can be easy and delicious!

Protein Q & A

Q: I thought protein was only important for men and athletes. Why is it so important for women? I have friends that restrict their intake every day!

A: Protein provides the building blocks that help maintain and repair muscles, organs, and other parts of the body, which means we could not live without protein in our diets! Research has shown that eating a diet higher in protein can help with weight management by curbing your hunger and preserving lean body muscle. Include adequate amounts of protein-rich foods such as meats, dairy, nuts, and soy-based products throughout the day.

Q: My friend just texted me, “I read women should eat more protein at breakfast to lose weight.” Is this true?

A: The answer is yes. There is evidence that eating more protein at breakfast leads to an initial and sustained feeling of fullness. This can help you to resist the temptation to snack and helps you to manage your weight by cutting excess calories.

Quick & Easy Ways to Protein Pack Your Meals

If You Eat This...

...Protein Pack It!

Granola bar with orange juice

English muffin with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and a cup of low-fat milk

Turkey sandwich with pretzels

3 ounces reduced sodium turkey luncheon meat on 2 slices of whole wheat bread with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese; pair with ¼ cup almonds

Strawberry milkshake

Blend 6 ounces low-fat Greek yogurt, ¾ cup frozen strawberries, and 1 cup of low-fat milk

Spaghetti with marinara sauce and a side salad

Combine 1 cup whole wheat spaghetti with ½ cup chunky marinara and 3 ounces chicken sausage. Pair with a side salad that is sprinkled with edamame, dried fruit, and walnuts.

Fruit snacks

Apple slices with 1 ounce low-fat cheese

Time Saving Tips

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Time is often the biggest excuse as to why we don’t make healthful choices. When you cook, double the amount that you would normally make. Allow food to cool and pre-portion in containers for quick and easy freezer meals.

Be Protein Prepared

Planning is key. Keep portioned bags of high protein snacks at work, at home, and in the car. Protein powered snacks include ¼ cup nuts, 1 ounce string cheese with whole grain crackers, fruit with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 3 ounces beef or turkey jerky, 6 ounces low-fat Greek yogurt, or 1 cup high protein cereal with 1 cup low-fat milk.

Protein for Baby Boomers

As we start to age, preserving our body’s muscle tissue allows us to stay active. The importance of quality nutrition is even greater as our appetite and calorie needs decrease. Choosing foods that contain ample protein is an easy way to help you feel stronger and improve your quality of life.

Protein FAQ

  • What is protein?
    • Protein is an essential nutrient that our body needs to help build, maintain and repair muscles, organs, and all other parts of the body.
  • How much protein do I need?
    • The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 54-72 grams of protein per day for a 150-200 pound adult. Use this as a general guideline to find the minimum amount of protein you need based on your body weight. Look at food labels and choose foods with at least 5 grams of protein per serving.

How Can Protein Help Me?

  • Dietary protein is an essential nutrient for maintaining muscle strength, bone health and blood sugar control. Choose protein foods that are lower in sugar, saturated fat and sodium whenever possible. The best way to meet your protein needs is to distribute your protein intake throughout the day.
  • Protein rich foods contain many of the vitamins and minerals needed to support body defenses and promote quicker healing.
  • Eating protein rich foods early in the day can help you meet and maintain your weight goals by satisfying hunger and reducing the urge to snack between meals.

Protein Rich Foods

Amount of Protein

3 ounces fish

17-22 grams

3 ounces hamburger or turkey sausage

16 grams

2 eggs

12 grams

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

8 grams

6 ounces low-fat Greek yogurt

18 grams

3 ounces chicken breast

18 grams

½ cup of cottage cheese

12 grams

½ cup tofu

10 grams

Exercise Tip:

Follow Exercise with Protein

To experience the muscle building benefits of protein, when you do moderate exercise like a fast walk or resistance training follow it with a meal containing about 25g of protein.