Protein Needs Calculator
Good sources of protein in addition to lean meats, fish, eggs and milk include:
- Legumes (split peas, beans, lentils, garbanzos, kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, pintos, etc.)
- Soy products (soy milk, tofu, soy beans, soy burgers, TVP, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, etc.)
- Whole grains and gluten products
- Egg Beaters and other cholesterol free egg alternates
- Even vegetables, salads, potatoes, etc. contribute a small amount of protein that helps compliment other proteins in the diet
About 15% of your total calories eaten should come from protein. By eating a variety of healthy foods to maintain your weight, you should be getting adequate protein. If you want to add a little extra to be sure, skim milk, non-fat yogurt, soy-milk, tofu, and soy nuts are inexpensive and rich sources of protein that can be easily added to your meals.
Athletes spend literally millions of dollars annually on protein powders, protein bars, shakes, and numerous types of amino acid supplements. They believe, because they’ve been told by those who sell these products, that they need large amounts of protein for use as fuel for exercise and to build strong muscles.
A report in the Sports Science Exchange Roundtable (Vol. 11, 2000) published by Gatorade Sports Science Institute, reviewed research on protein needs by athletes. Nutritional studies indicate the following facts and recommendations:
- Almost all the fuel used to provide energy for sports come from carbohydrates and fats; proteins usually contribute only about 2% of the energy needed.
- It is true that athletes need more protein in their diet, but they also need more calories, so by eating more food, they normally get more protein as well, enough to meet their needs when eating healthy meals.
- It’s true that the protein in some foods ( e.g. eggs, milk, and meat) provides a high quality protein in a single food, better than most proteins from a single plant source. However, when a variety of foods are eaten together, the plant proteins complement one another so that the end result is that they are just as high in protein quality (or mixture of amino acids) as meat. Thus, even plant proteins can supply the body all the amino acids required for optimum health.
- Protein supplements add little if any benefit if the person is eating sufficient calories from a variety of healthy foods to maintain their weight.
- If you wish to gain muscle mass, you must consume extra food energy in addition to adequate protein.
How much protein do you need, and where can you get it? Sport Science Exchange Roundtable, Vol. 11, 2000.