All jokes aside, I did hop on the good ol’ Google machine to dig up some credible information about the purpose of protein in our diets, and it turns out we need the stuff for quite a few reasons.
What is Protein?
The human body uses protein for many functions. And yes, repairing and building muscle tissues is one of them, but protein is also a key component of every cell in the body. And, not to get too technical here, but it’s actually a sweaty workout in the weight room that’s going to lead to increased muscle mass. Protein can’t begin building and increasing muscle tissue if you haven’t broken it down first.
Anyway, back to the point.
Protein, like fat and carbohydrates, is a macronutrient that makes up most of our skin, bones, hair, and nails. Our bodies use proteins to do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.
How Much Do You Need?
This one is a tricky subject to tackle, because there are a lot of different opinions on how much protein is enough. Fortunately, I found a great article on The Dr. Oz Show website that covers appropriate daily protein intake.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends that all men and women over the age of 19 should get at least .37 grams of protein for every pound of body weight (each day). So, for example, I weigh roughly 160 lbs., meaning I should be getting at least 59 grams of protein per day. Pretty simple, right? Nope—remember we have conflicting information.
As a competitive runner and someone who is now attempting to hit the weight room and put on more muscle, this Men’s Health article states that I need much more protein to sustain or build lean muscle mass. Apparently, men who work out five or more days a week for an hour or longer need .55 grams per pound. That’s 88 grams of protein for me — 29 more than my original recommendation from another website.
Additionally, the same article states that we can only efficiently use so much protein in a single sitting (around 30 grams), so it’s important to spread out your protein intake by incorporating some into every meal if possible.
Like I said, this gets tricky. It’s always best to talk to your physician or a professional dietician to figure out how much protein is right for you — especially since the recommendation is mostly dependent upon your goal weight and exercise routine.
Where Can You Get It?
It’s no secret that a nice serving of meat is a great source of protein, but make sure you’re first choice as a carnivore is a lean meat like chicken without the skin, turkey, or fish — just to name a few. There’s a whopping 30 grams of protein in a half-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast.
And for the vegetarians out there, no worries. There are great options so you can get your protein fix too — beans, nuts, whole grains, Greek yogurt, cheeses, eggs, and milk all have a good amount of protein. Take cottage cheese for example. It contains 28 grams of protein in every one-cup serving.
Finally, let’s not forget about the amazingly delicious, convenient USANA® Foods.
First up, our Nutrimeal™ shakes are excellent meal-replacement options that contain 15 grams of protein per serving. And next, we’ve got our soft-baked protein snacks, which are the perfect choice for a healthier — and tastier — alternative to high-sugar snacks. And don’t forget that all of these Foods are low glycemic, gluten free†, and vegetarian friendly.†For our customers sensitive to gluten: No gluten-containing ingredients are used in this product. However, USANA Nutrimeals and protein snacks are produced in a facility that manufactures other foods that do contain gluten.
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