Leveraging Dietary Protein

Mar 16, 2022 | Diabetes, getting healthy, Heart Disease

* Why is protein needed?

* What kind of protein?

* How much?

Why is Protein Needed?

Obesity Prevention: The American diet tends to be high in carbohydrates and fats.  Excessive intake of these nutrients is driving an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  If protein intake is increased, it crowds out carbohydrates and fats and also makes you less hungry between meals.  The result, less obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Skeletal Health: Many adults don’t have enough protein in their diet to support minimal health of the skeleton.  A diet low in protein cannot provide the amino acids necessary for all body systems.  The consequence?  Loss of muscle mass becomes a serious problem.  When you lose muscle, your risk of injury from falls increases.  For example, hip fractures are related to lower leg weakness (the result of reduced muscle mass).  Furthermore, normal spine shape depends on the muscles in the back to resist forward bending.  When muscles along the spine are lost, a forward bend in the  spine occurs, creating back pain and decreasing lung volume, which increases your risk of pneumonia or respiratory failure if you get sick.  

Glucose Metabolism:  Beyond its importance for your skeleton, muscle plays a huge role in energy metabolism. Muscle in your skeleton is an essential consumer of glucose .  When you have less muscle, blood glucose gets out of control and the risk of diabetes increases.  

CONCLUSION: We need protein for muscle health and all of its benefits.

What Kind of Protein?  There are both plant and animal sources of protein.  Is one better than the other?

A recent study from China points the the value of having dietary proteins from a wide range of plant and animal sources.  In this study,  people  who consumed protein from a wide variety of sources experienced fewer problems with high blood pressure. 

CONCLUSIONI: Get Protein from Variety of Sources:


Dietary Protein is Essential

How much protein do you need?  

The answer for people with regular intentional physical activity: 1 g of dietary protein for each kilogram of body weight.  So if you weigh 180 pounds (82 kg), you need 82 g of dietary protein each day.  Let’s consider an average eating scenario to see if it will deliver this much.

Breakfast: poultry egg x 2 (12 g)

slice of whole wheat toast (3.6 g)

sausage patties  x 2 (10 g)

greek yogurt x 1 cup (16 g)

blueberries 4 oz (0.5 g)

Lunch: Flour tortilla (for taco) x 2 (8 g)

chicken filling x 6 oz (52 g)

spinach leaf x 2 (1 g)

Dinner Salmon filet x 6 oz (34 g)

brussel sprouts x 6 oz (1 g)

dinner roll x 1 (2 g)

Total: 140 g!

If that a typical meal plan for you, then you can easily get 100 g of protein daily.

If you are doing resistance exercise to build strength, you need more protein.  Studies indicate that you will need approximately 2 grams of dietary protein per kilogram of body weight to make strength gains.  That could be tough to do without inserting some concentrated protein shakes into your daily meal plan.


Protein for Strength?


  1. Dietary Protein Is Essential!
  2. A wide variety of protein is best for your health;
  3. You should aim to consume 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight – double that if you are working to get stronger.

Want to learn more?  Here are some references that will make interesting reading!

Protein – Which is Best?  Hoffman et al, 2004

Dietary protein intake and human health.  Wu, 2016

Dietary Reference Intakes, NIH



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