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How much protein do you need? And where can you get it?

Recently, I taught a class at Total Women Fitness + Spa for National Nutrition Month. I addressed five of the most common nutrition myths around protein, carbs, weight loss, gluten free and fat. When this opportunity came up to work with Silk Soymilk to remind folks what a good source of protein soy milk can be, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to share one of my nutrition myths here! In fact, because this class was so well received in person, think it will make a great series of posts and potentially even a full webinar someday. Anyhow, onto the myth…

Generally there is some confusion about protein and how much a person really needs to be healthy. And the answer isn’t as simple as a standard DRI or flat recommendation for all people. To much or too little protein can be a problem, so how do you know who much protein you need? And then on top of that, how do you know the best sources to get it? Let me share some insight on the topic.

Nutrition Myth: If I eat more protein, I’ll gain muscle, right?

What’s True: Protein is made of different amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body. In addition to building and repairing muscle, amino acids also grow your hair and fingernails, produce hormones, boost your immune system and replace red blood cells.

What’s False: Building muscle is hard work and requires physical effort in addition to proper nutrition. Simply consuming more protein will not automatically build muscle. Your body can’t store excess protein. If you consume too much, your body will turn excess protein into glycogen and use it or turn it into fat and store it.

Take Away: Because your body can’t store protein, you need to consume enough each day to meet your body’s needs. The recommended daily requirement for protein is set at .8 gram per kilogram of body weight. If you are a recreational athlete, it’s safe to bump that up to 1-1.5 grams and if you’re really out there burning the oil as an endurance athlete, you’ll be good in the 1.5-2 gram range. Much more than that won’t be utilized for muscle repair or other growth requirements.


  • I am a 115 lb marathon runner. I weight 52kg x 1.5-2g = 78-104g protein a day
  • I am a 165 lb inactive office worker. I weight 75kg x .8g = 60g protein a day
  • I am a 145 lb slightly active teacher. I weight 66kg x 1-1.5 = 66-99g protein a day

Now that you know how much protein you should aim to consume daily, what are the best sources for you?

Healthy Protein Sources

Protein comes from both animal and plant sources. Animal sources contain more protein by weight as well as important vitamins like iron, zinc and B12. Animal sources of protein can also be higher in saturated fats, so it’s best to select leaner protein sources from a combination of lean meats and plant sources such as soy, legumes, nuts seeds.

Fish                                                                                                  Poultry (Skinless)

Food Qty Pro S Fat Cal Food Qty Pro S Fat Cal
Canned tuna 3.5 oz 19 0.2 86 Turkey breast 3.5 oz 31 0.6 147
Salmon 3.5 oz 21 0.8 130 Chicken breast 3.5 oz 31 1 165
Halibut 3.5 oz 23 0.4 111 Chicken thigh 3.5 oz 25 2.3 179
Fresh tuna 3.5 oz 30 1.6 184 Chicken leg 3.5 oz 24 2.1 174

Meat                                                                                                 Legumes

Pork chops 1 chop 39 5 286 Soy beans 1/3 cup 17 1.3 173
Skirt steak 3.5 oz 27 4 205 Kidney beans 1/3 cup 10 0 123
Ground beef (70%) 3.5 oz 14 11 332 Black beans 1/3 cup 9 0.1 132
Cured ham 3.5 oz 23 9 178 Peas 1/3 cup 8 0 118

Milk and Eggs                                                                               Cheese

Skim milk ½ cup 3.4 0 34 NF Mozzarella 3.5 oz 32 0 141
Soy milk* ½ cup 3.3 0.2 54 NF cottage cheese 3.5 oz 10 0 72
Eggs 2 eggs 13 3.3 155 LF cheddar 3.5 oz 24 4.3 173
Egg white 3 eggs 11 0 52 LF Swiss cheese 3.5 oz 28 3.3 179

Nuts and Seeds                                                                           Other Options

Peanuts ¼ cup 7 2 164 Whey powder 1/3 cup 19 0.2 120
Almonds ¼ cup 6 1 167 Tofu 3.5 oz 7 0.3 55
Pistachios ¼ cup 6 1 159 High-protein cereal 1 cup 13 1 160
Flaxseed ¼ cup 5 1 150 NF Greek yogurt 1/2 cup 10 0 59

*No other dairy-free milk brand gives you more protein than Silk. With 8 grams of heart-healthy, plant-powered protein and a smooth delicious taste, Silk Original Soymilk gives you plenty to love. And because Silk is plant-based, it’s naturally low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol!

silk soy milk

Make this about you:

  1. Your weight in pounds __ divided by 2.2 =__ Your weight in KG
  2. __ your weight in KG x__ your protein need =__ Your daily protein goal in grams.
  3. Do you think you are eating too much, too little or just the right amount of protein?
  4. Where does the majority of protein in your diet come from today?
  5. Can you use more of these lean proteins instead?

My favorite hot protein tip!

Since protein’s job is to rebuild muscle tissue it makes sense to eat it right after a workout. I try to get in at least 20 grams of lean protein within 20 minutes of a tough workout to boost utilization and muscle repair. It’s also good to get a little sugar (carbs) in there too to restore your used up glycogen stores. Try this next time you’re looking for a refueling recipe that is packed with protein, even without added protein powder!


Post workout powder free protein shake

  • 1 cup light vanilla soy milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 1 cup ice

Directions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend on low for 5-10 seconds and increase speed to high and blend until smooth.

Nutrition: This recipe has just about 20 g protein, under 200 calories and over half of your calcium needs are met for the day. Let’s not forget this quite literally tastes like something like a shake from the fast food drive-thru!

What’s your favorite post workout snack?

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine. Be sure to visit their page to download a coupon now. Or visit them on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to get more plant based protein rich recipe ideas.

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