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Exercise and diet experts alike sing the praises of protein to sate hunger, build muscles, and keep your fitness plan on track.  LMQC dietary blogger and Registered Dietitian, Jeni Tackett, explains protein basics and why we all need it.

by Nutritionist Blogger, Jeni Tackett, RD, LD

Protein is a very popular macronutrient in the United States. Just take a trip to your local grocery store, and you will see protein bars, protein shakes, and protein bites. The origin of the word protein comes from the Greek word “protos” which means “primary” and does emphasize the importance of protein.

Protein is essential for making enzymes, antibodies, muscle fibers, hair, connective tissue, and so much more.

Are you getting enough protein? Let’s explore.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is just .8 grams per kg of body weight. You can determine your recommended intake by taking your weight in pounds and multiple by .36. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need at least 54 grams of protein per day. Remember this is a minimum.

Salmon and other fish are excellent sources of protein.

Protein needs are individual and depend on many things such as your level of physical activity (an athlete would need more protein than someone who is sedentary) and your health conditions (someone with early kidney disease may need to limit protein intake). If you have special concerns, make sure that you contact your physician or a dietitian for a more accurate estimate of your protein needs. Most Americans do consume enough protein but would benefit from including more protein from fish and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).

We can only absorb 25-40 grams of protein at a meal, so fueling throughout the day with meals every 4-5 hours can help you to optimize protein absorption.

Avoid fasting and then consuming a large meal as you will not be able to absorb over 40 grams of protein. For example, 6 oz. of chicken breast has 46 grams of protein.

You can also use an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose It to log your food for the day and see if you are meeting protein recommendations.

What about protein powders?

An easy way to get more protein is to add protein powders to water or milk. I recommend getting protein from real foods instead of protein and bars. Real foods contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals in addition to protein. There are concerns that protein powders may contain toxins.

Powders may be useful for athletes, individuals with cancer, and for weight gain. My daughter is a two- sport athlete who occasionally has a smoothie with protein powder when she has little time between practices. Protein powders and protein bars can cause gastrointestinal upset, so make sure to listen to your body.

We are all individuals, and our protein needs are no exception. Do not fall for all of the gimmicks and fads in the grocery store. Eat real food most of the time, be informed, and fuel your body properly.

by Nutritionist Blogger, Jeni Tackett, RD, LD

Protein is a very popular macronutrient in the United States. Just take a trip to your local grocery store, and you will see protein bars, protein shakes, and protein bites. The origin of the word protein comes from the Greek word “protos” which means “primary” and does emphasize the importance of protein.

Protein is essential for making enzymes, antibodies, muscle fibers, hair, connective tissue, and so much more.

Are you getting enough protein? Let’s explore.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is just .8 grams per kg of body weight. You can determine your recommended intake by taking your weight in pounds and multiple by .36. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need at least 54 grams of protein per day. Remember this is a minimum.

Salmon and other fish are excellent sources of protein.

Protein needs are individual and depend on many things such as your level of physical activity (an athlete would need more protein than someone who is sedentary) and your health conditions (someone with early kidney disease may need to limit protein intake). If you have special concerns, make sure that you contact your physician or a dietitian for a more accurate estimate of your protein needs. Most Americans do consume enough protein but would benefit from including more protein from fish and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).

We can only absorb 25-40 grams of protein at a meal, so fueling throughout the day with meals every 4-5 hours can help you to optimize protein absorption.

Avoid fasting and then consuming a large meal as you will not be able to absorb over 40 grams of protein. For example, 6 oz. of chicken breast has 46 grams of protein.

You can also use an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose It to log your food for the day and see if you are meeting protein recommendations.

What about protein powders?

An easy way to get more protein is to add protein powders to water or milk. I recommend getting protein from real foods instead of protein and bars. Real foods contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals in addition to protein. There are concerns that protein powders may contain toxins.

Powders may be useful for athletes, individuals with cancer, and for weight gain. My daughter is a two- sport athlete who occasionally has a smoothie with protein powder when she has little time between practices. Protein powders and protein bars can cause gastrointestinal upset, so make sure to listen to your body.

We are all individuals, and our protein needs are no exception. Do not fall for all of the gimmicks and fads in the grocery store. Eat real food most of the time, be informed, and fuel your body properly.

Jeni Tackett

Jeni Tackett

Nutritionist Blogger

Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Rock Valley Health. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition.