The amount of protein you need is based on your body size and daily physical activity level. Your gender, height and weight must also be taken into consideration, along with how active a lifestyle you lead. Examining and determining your protein needs based on your unique situation is the best way to correctly judge whether or not you are getting an appropriate amount of protein.
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There are daily protein requirement recommendations made for people of average health and activity. Children 2 to 3 years old need 2-oz. equivalents daily; children 4 to 8 years old need 4 oz., according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Girls and boys 9 to 13 years old need 5 oz. For girls 14 to 18 years old it's also 5 oz., whereas boys of the same age need 6.5-oz. equivalents.
Women 19 to 30 need 5.5-oz. equivalents. Women older than 30 need 5-oz. equivalents.
Men 19 to 30 need 6.5 oz. Men 31 to 50 need 6 oz., and men older than 50 years old need 5.5 oz.
You don’t have to eat a lot of food to attain this goal. A 4-oz. serving of chicken breast has about 35 g of protein; an 8-oz. cup of 2 percent milk has 8 g of protein; an 8-oz. cup of yogurt has 12 g. Talk with your health care specialist about how much protein is right for you and which protein-rich foods you might want to include in your diet.
It is not protein itself that is vital to your good health but the amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. There are 23 commonly known amino acids. The essential amino acids make up eight of these and must be acquired through foods or supplements.
All of the amino acids are present in different combinations in foods classified as proteins. These are divided into two categories: complete proteins — foods that contain all eight essential amino acids — and incomplete proteins.
How Protein Is Assimilated
The type of protein and the ability of your body to absorb it are two large factors in getting your desired protein intake. Complete proteins are found in meats, poultry, seafood and dairy products. Incomplete proteins are found in seeds, nuts, soy products, grains and beans. It is a good idea to combine complete proteins with the incomplete ones you eat each day to achieve your ideal protein intake. For example, vegetarians could add a small amount of raita — an Indian dish made with curd — to a dish such as beans or lentils to make a complete protein.
Protein Needs Throughout the Day
There is no substantial evidence that protein levels need greater attention at any specific time of day. That said, it is a good idea to begin your daily protein consumption with your morning meal. For example, for someone with a 40 g daily allowance of protein, an 8-oz. serving of yogurt containing 12 g of protein at breakfast could give you a good start in meeting your daily protein requirement.