• Denine Rogers

Protein: How Much is Enough?

Protein provides the body's building materials, the essential nutrients for growth, maintenance and repair. We all need proteins, but protein deficiency is rare in developed world.

The Protein Problem

How much protein do we need? Nutritionists recommend about 45 to 50 grams protein a day for most women and 50 to 60 grams a day for most men. Children and infants, who are growing rapidly, need more protein, as do pregnant women. For most people, complex carbohydrates should comprise 55 percent to 60 per cent of daily calories. Fats should comprise no more than 30 percent, preferably around 20 percent, of daily calories, or even lower, and proteins should make up the remaining 10 percent to 20 per cent of daily calories.

However, many Americans are consuming far more protein than they need. The process of breaking down proteins into amino acids and absorbing them puts a strain on the kidneys. Furthermore, although protein itself has less than half as many calories as the same amount of fat, most protein sources, such as cuts of beef that are not lean, are also high in fat, which is unhealthy in large quantities.

Where To Find Protein

Excellent sources of protein are lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products and legumes (beans and peas). Whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, and millet, are also good sources of protein. Follow your physician's advice on protein requirements during pregnancy and for children. However, most people would do well to shift their intake of daily calories toward complex carbohydrates until they reach the recommended percentage. With a balanced diet they'll still get all the proteins they need.

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