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Protein: Are You Getting Enough?

Most people get enough protein. But are you making the best protein choices, or are you in a rut?

You need protein for your muscles, bones, and the rest of your body. Exactly how much you need changes with age:

  • Babies need about 10 grams a day.
  • Teenage boys need up to 52 grams a day.
  • Teenage girls need 46 grams a day.
  • Adult men need about 56 grams a day.
  • Adult women need about 46 grams a day (71 grams if pregnant or breastfeeding)

You should get at least 10% of your daily calories, but not more than 35%, from protein, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Choosing the Healthiest Sources of Protein

Just about every type of food has protein. Some have more than others. Whether you eat meat or not, you can get enough protein from your diet.

Apart from protein, you might also want to think about what else you're getting from protein-rich foods.

For instance, to limit saturated fat, you'd want to choose lean cuts of meat over fattier cuts.

If you're trying to get more omega-3s, you might choose salmon or eggs that mention omega-3s on the label.

If you need to get more fiber, you should look to beans, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.

Many of us would do well to tip the balance of our diets away from high-fat meat and toward lean meats and plant-based protein such as beans and nuts. Most nutritionists agree the healthiest approach is to choose from a variety of protein sources.

If you're watching your weight, try including a source of protein with every meal. Doing so can help you feel full longer.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on July 02, 2012

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