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Quiz: Myths and Facts About Protein

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Men need more protein than women.

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Men need more protein than women.

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How much protein you need depends on your sex, age, how much you weigh, how active you are, and other things. But yes, guys usually need more protein than women. An average man needs about 56 grams of protein a day. Women need 46 grams.

 

A typical day with about 50 grams of protein could include:  Chicken (3 ounces), two large eggs, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 8 ounces of yogurt.

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How many of your calories should come from protein?

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How many of your calories should come from protein?

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If you're like most Americans, you get all the protein you need. You should usually get about 10% to 35% of your calories from protein every day.  

Athletes need more protein than couch potatoes.

Athletes need more protein than couch potatoes.

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How active you are impacts how much protein your body needs. Athletes may need slightly more protein than non-athletes. They need it to repair and rebuild muscles after all that work. 

Which has more protein?

Which has more protein?

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All these are good sources of protein, but beef and other meats are really protein-packed. However, meat is high in saturated fat, which can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. If you choose red meats for protein, stick with the leanest cuts and be smart with portion sizes. It's a good idea to limit red meat to 18 ounces a week and skip processed meats, like bacon, sausage, and lunchmeat. 

Why do we need protein?

Why do we need protein?

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Protein is an important part of every cell in your body. It makes up about 15% of your weight. Protein has many jobs including giving you energy, repairing your bones and muscles, building cells, and helping with your immune system.

A high-protein diet can help you lose weight.

A high-protein diet can help you lose weight.

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Some studies show that replacing protein for carbs may help you lose weight.  High-protein foods move more slowly through your digestive system. That helps you feel full longer after you eat.  And your body burns more calories digesting protein than digesting carbs.  Protein also can help you avoid hunger pangs by keeping your blood sugar levels steady.

 

But don't rush out and eat steak all day. Expert say we still don't know the long-term effects of a high-protein, low-carb diet.

Too much protein can be unhealthy.

Too much protein can be unhealthy.

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Usually, it's not a big deal to eat more protein than you need.  But eating more protein means more calories which can lead to weight gain. And if the protein is from meat or other animal sources, it might be high in saturated fat, which can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. Too much protein can also cause problems if you have medical conditions, such as kidney disease or diabetes.

A "complete" protein is also known as:

A "complete" protein is also known as:

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Complete, or high quality proteins, are packed with specific amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are about 20 different ones. Your body needs them all, but can only make some. The rest have to come from your diet. Those are known as "essential" amino acids.  Complete proteins have all nine essential amino acids.  Eggs, cheese, and meat have complete proteins.

 

"Incomplete" protein sources are low in one or more essential amino acids. Beans and tofu are good but incomplete sources of protein because they contain lower amounts of some essential amino acids.

Women shouldn't have soy protein.

Women shouldn't have soy protein.

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Some women worry about a plant-made estrogen found in soy. But experts say soy protein is a good low-fat option instead of high-fat, animal-based proteins, like red meat. The key is to be smart with portions. Keep soy between two and four servings a week.

Soy comes from soybeans. You can find it in soy milk, tempeh, edamame, and tofu. Whole soy gives you all the essential amino acids, just like protein from animal sources. It is also used instead of meat in some vegetarian dishes.

Our bodies are good at storing protein to use later.

Our bodies are good at storing protein to use later.

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Our bodies don't store proteins the way they store carbs and fats. That's why you need a steady supply of protein every day.

You can help build muscle by eating protein right after a workout.

You can help build muscle by eating protein right after a workout.

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Protein can help repair muscles after working out. Many studies show that having high-protein foods or drinks soon after exercise helps build and restore muscle. But protein is only part of the story. The key nutrient to strengthen muscles is carbohydrates.

Whey protein is high in fat.

Whey protein is high in fat.

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One reason people like whey protein is because it’s low in fat. Whey has proteins that are easy to digest. Some studies show that whey protein may also be good for your immune system.

Which of these are in the USDA’s MyPlate protein food group?

Which of these are in the USDA’s MyPlate protein food group?

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The USDA’s MyPlate program includes as protein all foods from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds. Beans and peas are also part of the vegetable group.

Most Americans don't eat enough protein.

Most Americans don't eat enough protein.

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Most Americans get all the protein they need from their diet. In fact, most of us get more than enough. Vegetarians -- especially vegans -- may not get enough because plant-based proteins can have low amounts of some amino acids. Older adults may also need to make sure they get enough protein, because it can be easy to lose muscle as we get older.

You can find protein in which of the following:

You can find protein in which of the following:

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Protein comes in all kinds of interesting foods. You can find it in meat, of course. But you can also get protein from nuts and seeds, beans and peas, and eggs.

Which could mean you're not getting enough protein?

Which could mean you're not getting enough protein?

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Most people don't need to worry about eating enough protein. However, strict vegetarians, vegans, and older people should know the signs of too little protein. These include recent weight loss, tired muscles, and a drop in your muscle strength.

A high-quality protein diet can help lower your chance of heart disease.

A high-quality protein diet can help lower your chance of heart disease.

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Most Americans get about 12% to 18% of their calories from protein. To be healthier, eat more fish, chicken, beans, and less red meat. Also, swap your refined carbs for these healthier proteins. That means more protein instead of foods like white bread and white rice. 

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