Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Do We Need More Protein?

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How do we determine how much protein we actually need?  There are several ways that include percentage of total calories consumed as protein, the absolute amount of protein in the diet and the amount ingested per kilogram of body weight.  Regardless of how it is presented, most Americans get plenty of protein.

Typical protein intake in the U.S. is about 90 grams a day. The more a person weighs, the more protein he or she needs for maintaining and repairing the body.  The RDA for protein in adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.  For example if you weigh 154 pounds (70 kilograms), the recommended intake would be 56 grams a day.  (to convert pounds to kilograms, divide the pounds by 2.2 ).  Then, 70 kg. X 0.8 equals 56 grams a day. The elderly may need more protein as we age, but the amount is still not established. The current recommendation is 1.2 g/kg. body weight for people over 65.  Based on the above body weight, that would mean about 84 grams per day.

To get an idea of how much protein is a a food, you can follow these simple rules:

  • 1/2 cup of pasta or potatoes or 1 slice of bread = 3 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of yogurt or milk = 8 grams of protein
  • 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw = 2 grams of protein
  • 1 oz of meat or cheese or 1/2 cup of legumes = 7 grams of protein ( 1 oz. is about the size of a pair of dice.)
  • Fats and Fruits = 0 grams of protein (some fruits can contain a very small amount)

Nevertheless, the food companies think we need more.  The following article from Food P0litics illustrates the latest marketing ideas from many of these food producers.  Do you need more?



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