It's been said that Americans are over-nourished and in a meat-eating society, protein is not an issue. However, each individual and his or her dietary pattern is different. To find out if you're eating the appropriate amount of protein, you can follow the formula and estimated amount of protein per serving size below.
Then multiply your weight in kg by 0.8g protein. This will give you your daily protein requirements.*
Then, looking at the chart below, or looking at the USDA's website for other food choices, determine if you typically eat too little, too much or just the right amount of protein each day.
What happens if I eat too little protein?
Generally, the only Americans that eat too little protein are vegans or vegetarians. Too little protein can lead to weight gain, poor healing of a sickness or injury, brittle hair or nails, trouble building muscle mass, fatigue, joint pain, less control of blood sugar, and poor concentration(2).
Combinations of rice and beans or corn, nut butters, fish, low fat yogurt and cheese, and quinoa are good sources of non-meat proteins.
Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to be deficient in vitamin B12, which is only found in animal products. Fortified cereals, mushrooms, and B12 supplements are important in their diet(3).
What happens if I eat too much protein?
Eating too much protein than you individually need can result in weight gain. The excess nitrogen is urinated out, but the remaining carbon skeleton is turned to fat! It's important to maintain a regular exercise routine and recognize that excess calories- whether carbs, fats, or proteins- can lead to weight gain if the calories aren't used(2).
*Extra protein is needed during chronic illnesses and wound recovery.
(1) USDA. (2017). USDA food composition databases. Retrieved Aug. 14, 2017 from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index
(2) National Center for Biotechnology Information. (1989). Recommended dietary allowances: 10th ed. Protein and amino acids. Retrieved Aug. 18, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234922/
(3) National Institutes of Health. (2016). Vitamin B12. Retrieved Aug. 18, 2017 from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/