50 Gram Protein Diet

Healthy food high in protein
Fish, beans and tofu are good sources of protein. (Image: yulka3ice/iStock/GettyImages)

More than half of the U.S. population is eating too much protein, according to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The report also highlights a lack of variety of protein sources in the diet and a tendency toward nutrient-poor choices.

The amount of protein you need each day depends on your age, weight, gender and activity level. If your requirement is 50 grams of protein per day — or per meal — ensure that it comes from a variety of nutrient-rich sources.

Individual Protein Needs

The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for protein is 0.8 gram per kilogram of body weight. This is the amount suggested for all adults to meet basic nutritional needs. The calculation for determining your daily protein is to multiply your weight by 0.36. So, for example, if you weigh 135 pounds, you'd need about 50 grams of protein each day.

But your weight isn't the only factor that determines your protein needs. Typically men need more calories than women, so their individual macronutrient needs are increased, and older people need more protein to counter age-related muscle loss.

Very active people and athletes also need more protein than the RDA. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, people who exercise may need as much as 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Using this estimate, a person who weighs 165 pounds may need to get 50 grams of protein at each meal.

High-Protein Foods

All foods contain some protein, but some are better sources than others. For example, animal foods are typically a denser source of protein than plant foods. Here are some examples of protein-rich foods in each food group:

Meat and Fish (per 3.5-ounce serving)

Eggs and Dairy

Grains

Vegetables and Fruits

Nuts, Seeds and Legumes

50 Grams Per Day

It's easy to get enough protein if you only need 50 grams each day. And it's easy to go over your protein needs, which is OK if you account for the calories and make the necessary adjustments to keep your total daily calories in check. Keeping your calorie intake in balance with calorie expenditure is key for maintaining your weight. Some sample meals to help you get just enough — but not too much — protein each day include:

Breakfast:

  • One serving of oatmeal topped with 1/2 cup of raspberries and one medium sliced banana
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt

Lunch:

Salad with 2 cups of raw spinach; 1/2 cup of raw broccoli, chopped; one medium apple, chopped; 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds; and 1/2 cup of chickpeas

Dinner:

  • 2.5 ounces of salmon
  • 2 cups of kale, sauteed

If you like to snack during the day, remember to add that to your total for the day.

50 Grams Per Meal

Getting 50 grams of protein per meal is a little more challenging, but you likely have to eat a lot anyway to meet your calorie needs. As long as you choose protein- and nutrient-rich sources at each meal, you shouldn't have any problem. Some sample meals that add up to 50 grams of protein each include:

Breakfast:

  • Two-egg omelet with veggies of your choice and 1 ounce of cheddar
  • 1 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of raspberries
  • 1 ounce of almonds

Lunch:

  • 2 cups of raw spinach topped with 3.5 ounces of sliced chicken breast, 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds, and additional fruits and vegetables of your choice
  • 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit

Dinner:

  • 3.5 ounces of tilapia
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups of kale sauteed with lemon and 1 ounce of sunflower seeds

If you can't quite make 50 grams at each meal, you can make up the difference in one or two protein-filled snacks such as nuts or hummus with cut-up veggies.

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