Enough is Enough
And how much is that? You may be surprised. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, most Americans consume 50 percent too much protein. With the great popularity of high protein/low carbohydrate diets in recent years, protein has taken on an almost "free food" (food without risk of negative consequence) reputation. Serving as our bodies' basic building blocks, proteins are highly important, but should be consumed in appropriate moderation. The average adult requires approximately 8 g of protein for every 20 lbs. of body weight.
The Protein Equation
To determine your specific protein requirements, it is best to first establish your healthy body weight. A woman's ideal body weight is about 100 lbs. for 60 inches (5 feet) in height plus 5 lbs. for every inch over 60 inches. For men, ideal body weight consists of 106 lbs. for 60 inches (5 feet) in height plus 6 lbs. for every inch over 60 inches. Divide your ideal body weight by 2.2 to determine your weight in kilograms. Multiply that number by .08 for your daily protein allotment.
Eat a Variety of Foods
Most foods contain at least some protein. Even fruits and vegetables contain modest amounts of protein. Complete proteins--foods that contains all necessary amino acids--include meats, poultry, legumes, whole grains and dairy products. If you are consuming a variety of healthy foods on a daily basis, chances are you are meeting your protein requirements.
Steer Clear of Unhealthy Fats
Many protein foods contain saturated fats, unhealthy fats that stem from red meat and high fat dairy products. Excessive intake of red meat is associated with cancer risk. The healthiest protein sources include fish, lean poultry and legumes, all which contain little if any saturated fat. If you do enjoy red meat, limit intake to no more than 1 or 2 servings per week. If you are vegetarian, fear not. Plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils and soy products, are excellent sources of protein and extremely low in saturated fats.
Consume lean proteins as part of a balanced, healthy diet. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats should surround your protein choices to attain proper nutrition, fiber intake and overall wellness. Proteins take longer to digest and do not affect blood sugar negatively, so your carbohydrate choices are best enjoyed with a healthy dose of protein. One way to attain balance is to divide your dinner plate into sections--visualize that 1/2 of your plate is vegetables, 1/4 is healthy carbohydrate, 1/4 is lean protein and a touch of healthy fat tops it off.