Some “experts” recommend that we get 30-35% or more of our total daily calories from protein. The truth is, the Recommended Daily Allowance of 8-10% of our calories from protein is more than enough protein. In terms of grams of protein, it means that if you are a woman who weighs 120 pounds, you need around 44 grams of protein per day, or if you are a man who weighs 175 pounds, you need around 64 grams of protein per day.*
If you eat lean meat, upwards of about 50% of the calories you consume come from protein: 48% in ground beef (90% lean), 64% in beef top sirloin, 71% in boneless pork loin chops, 75% in roasted chicken breast, and 82% in roasted turkey breast. If you consume dairy, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, about 20-40% of the calories come from protein.
If you consume a whole, plant-based diet, you automatically get at least 10% of your total calories from protein (see my post on how vegans get enough protein: http://www.bethehealthyu.com/1/post/2013/10/how-do-vegans-get-enough-protein.html).
If you consume little or no animal-based foods, the only way that you are at risk of not getting enough protein is if you eat too much processed foods (junk food) and not enough whole foods. If that’s the case, or if after reading this you still feel that you need more protein, here are two great non-soy plant-based protein supplement alternatives: hemp protein powder and pea protein powder.
Hemp protein powder comes from hemp seeds, which are naturally high in magnesium, zinc, and iron. Pea protein powder comes from split peas, which are naturally high in vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin b6, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
A quarter cup scoop of hemp protein powder has about 15 grams of protein and 135 calories, or 44% of the calories from protein (convert 15 grams of protein into calories knowing that 1 gram of protein has 4 calories, then divide that by the total calories (135) and multiply by 100). In addition, there are 6 grams of fat per scoop of hemp protein.
The same scoop of pea protein powder has about 28 grams of protein and 130 calories, or 86% of the calories from protein. In addition, there are 2 grams of fat per scoop of pea protein.
Pea protein powder has more protein, more nutrients, and less fat than hemp protein powder, making it a better choice if you are trying to lose weight. On the other hand, if you are trying to gain weight, or are concerned about losing too much weight on a whole, plant-based diet, hemp protein powder may be a better choice for you.
*8-10% calories from protein per day translates into about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. To calculate how much protein you need daily in grams for your body weight, divide your weight by 2.2, then multiply that by 0.8.