Optimal Protein Intake & a great recipe

Optimal Protein Intake & a great recipe


Blog Entry – October 2015

Provided by Katie Oliver MS, Dietetic Intern

Protein is an essential part of our daily diet and without it, we cannot survive.  Amino acids are the building blocks of life and they make up the proteins used in the body to help build, maintain, and repair muscles, deliver oxygen to tissues, and make stronger bones. Protein is a source of energy, leads to a feeling of satiety (fullness), and can help individuals achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Every person needs to eat protein and the right amount depends on the person’s age and body size.  Current recommendations are that we eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.  For example, if somebody weighs 165 pounds, they would need to divide 165 by 2.2 to get their weight in kg then multiply by .8 g.  So, 165/2.2=75 kg x 0.8 g = 60 g of protein per day.

While 0.8 grams per kilogram is the general recommendation, many new studies have shown that people can benefit from increasing their intake up to as much as 1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight.  These higher amounts are helpful for those who wish to achieve a healthy weight, live an active lifestyle, and they also help us maintain our lean body mass as we age.

Nutrient timing and the quality of foods, especially protein, that we eat is important.  Spacing out our protein throughout mealtimes is a good way to maintain our lean body mass, it stimulates muscle protein synthesis (muscle building), and plays a role in weight management. It also helps us get all the protein we need in a day.  Choosing lean proteins like fish, lean cuts of meat, and removing the skin from poultry will help reduce fat and cholesterol. You can choose low fat and fat free dairy products as sources of protein as well.

Both plant and animal foods contain protein. Animal protein such as chicken, beef, fish, or dairy provides a “complete” protein, meaning it contains all of the necessary elements our body needs. Unfortunately, animal protein can be expensive and not everyone likes to eat it at every meal or at all. By combining certain plant groups that are considered “incomplete” proteins, a “complete” protein can be formed. Below are some great plant sources of protein, which should be eaten in the same day or together to increase amino acid variety in the daily diet.

Plant Protein Combinations Food Examples/Meal Ideas
Grains + legumes Black beans and rice
Whole-grain pasta tossed with peas, almonds, and your favorite sauce
Bean soup with whole grain crackers
Split pea soup with whole grain or seeded crackers or a slice of bread
Hummus and pita bread
Pasta with beans
Veggie burgers on a whole wheat bun
Grains + nuts & seeds Whole wheat toast with peanut butter or nut butter
  Hearty quinoa salad or soup
Nuts & seeds + legumes Lentil soup with a serving of almonds on the side
Corn + legumes Pinto beans in a corn tortilla

Now that you know the benefits protein in the diet, ensure you consume the minimum daily recommendation.  There are a variety of different foods that can help you meet your needs while maintaining a healthy diet.  Have a look at the table below for protein content in different foods and try our delicious vegetarian quinoa soup recipe.   Come back and check our blog for other meal and snack ideas!

Food Serving Size Grams of Protein/Serving
Chicken Breast 4 oz 25 grams
Tilapia 4 oz 23 grams
Beef 4 oz 22 grams
Tuna Fish 1 Single Serve Pouch 16 grams
Whole Egg 1 6 grams
Milk Carton 8 grams
Pinto Beans ½ Cup 8 grams
Peanut Butter 2 Tablespoons 7 grams

Peruvian Quinoa Stew

Servings: 4

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
    • ½ tbsp. chili powder
    • ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 Can diced tomatoes – no Salt Added (1 4/5 cups)
  • 1 Cup chicken stock – No Salt Added
  • 1 Cup quinoa, dry
  • 1 large onions, raw, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, raw, minced
  • 1 stalk large celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrot, grated
  • 1 cup bell pepper (Red, Yellow, or Green), diced


  1. Rinse your quinoa really well. Place it in a pot with the water and cook, covered over medium heat, for about 15 minutes or until soft. Set aside.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add in the celery and carrots. Continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring often so nothing sticks or burns.
  4. Add in the bell pepper, zucchini and tomatoes, along with the spices (cumin, chili powder, coriander, cayenne and oregano). Let that blend together for just a few more minutes and then stir in the stock. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the veggies are tender.

Stir in the cooked quinoa and adjust the salt to taste. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro if you choose, or sprinkle on top.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 267
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6 g 10 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 3 %
Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 108 mg 5 %
Potassium 788 mg 23 %
Total Carbohydrate 44 g 15 %
Dietary Fiber 8 g 30 %
Sugars 7 g
Protein 10 g 19 %
Vitamin A 43 %
Vitamin C 65 %
Calcium 10 %
Iron 26 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.