With magazines and diets touting the satiating power of protein, it's important to know this essential nutrient does a lot more than fill you up. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues, and it is an important building block of muscles and bones. However, 50% of women ages 18–50 don't know if they get enough protein, according to a new survey by Luna.
So how much protein do women need? According to Tara Dellolacono Thies, a registered dietitian and nutritional spokesperson for Clif Bar, most women need between 50 and 60 grams of protein a day.
But this isn't an exact science. The Institute of Medicine recommends .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but here's a simpler way to break down you protein needs:
|Activity level||Protein needs (grams)|
|Sedentary||Weight in pounds X .4|
|Active||Weight in pounds. X .6|
|Competitive athlete||Weight in pounds X .75|
|Light body-builder||Weight in pounds X .85|
What are the best sources?
Most people with a well-rounded diet eat enough protein, but it's important to include complete proteins, which contain all nine of the essential amino acids. Sources of complete protein include meat, fish, eggs, most dairy products, and soybeans. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are often missing certain amino acids, but they can be combined to make a complete protein meal.
And although meats contain high amounts of protein, be sure to consider how much saturated fat is in your cut. One serving of steak can contain up to 75% of your saturated fat for the day! Here are a few good examples of low-fat, protein-packed foods:
|Protein source||Amount of protein (grams)||Serving size|
|Tuna (yellowfish)||33||4 oz.|
|Roasted chicken||32||3/4 cup, diced|
|Lean flank steak||31||4 oz.|
|Non-fat plain Greek yogurt||15||6 oz.|
Other good protein sources include salmon, turkey, lamb, beans, nuts, and milk. If you're on the go, there are shelves full of protein and energy bars. However, these can often be candy bars disguised as healthy snacks. Try these bars that will fill you up without breaking the calorie bank.