Skip to main content
Get Care MyChart Find a Provider Find a Location

There is no doubt that protein is a powerhouse macronutrient. Just take a glance down any grocery aisle and most of the packaging makes every effort to mention the amount of protein per serving. Why all the hype? 

Protein is unique due to its ability to trigger additional fullness hormones with digestion compared to other macronutrients, which are carbohydrates and fats. In addition to slower digestion, protein promotes longer satiety and is preferred by many to help regulate their intake frequency and portions. Protein intake is often discussed in tandem with health topics like weight loss, exercise and strength training. The reason for this is its amazing satiety and tissue-building properties.

What are good sources of protein?

Most of us recognize natural sources of protein as animal products, nuts, soy, legumes, seeds and beans; however, many food companies now include fortified protein as an additive to snack foods such as cookies, chips, crackers and chocolate bars. Nutrients that naturally occur in food or a product will provide the most benefits in comparison to fortified products. This is because of additional nutrients found within natural sources. For example, animal-based protein is also a good source of iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6.

“Complete” protein comes from sources comprised of all nine essential amino acids, or the molecules that form proteins, which are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Examples of complete protein sources include animal-based options, including meat, fish and eggs. Some protein powders and supplements may contain specific amino acids, such as proline (what collagen is made from) and leucine (assists with tissue regeneration and reduces breakdown of tissue after exercising). You should aim for consuming complete protein whenever possible.

How much protein should I eat?

The general recommendation for adults is to consume 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, an individual weighing 200 pounds, or 91 kilograms, will require between 73 and 91 grams of protein per day. Protein needs can vary depending on several factors, including age, gender, health status and activity level. Protein needs are easily met with food if you consume protein at each meal and with snacks. Note that an excess amount of any macronutrient will result in storage of this energy, meaning too much protein, fat or carbohydrates can lead to weight gain.

Should I be counting macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fat)?

Not necessarily. Instead of getting overwhelmed with specifics and numbers, try looking at your meals and snacks as the big picture versus a breakdown. Here are some questions to ask yourself to assess your intake balance:

•  Does a meal include at least 3-5 food groups?
•  Does a snack include at least 1-2 food groups?
•  Is protein a part of each meal and snack to support balance?
•  Is the meal or snack a combination of packaged and fresh items?

Protein is an essential nutrient needed for proper health and should be paired along with the other health essentials, including carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Next time you check out a new product containing protein, make sure you evaluate how it might fit into a balanced, well-rounded diet.

Related articles

Image for causes of bloating

What helps with bloating?

Feeling uncomfortable and bloated can be caused by many dietary and lifestyle choices. Learn ways to prevent and reduce the effect of bloating on your life.
woman doing dumbbell curl

What exercise burns the most calories?

Discover the benefits of anaerobic and high-intensity workouts, which help burn calories and improve overall fitness. Start your calorie-burning journey today.
Nutrition and your mental health

The link between nutrition and your mental health

The foods you eat can positively impact your brain function, mood and mental health. Apply this “back to the basics” approach of focusing on simple, healthy food for the brain
Is my child getting enough fiber

How much fiber does my child need?

Learn about the importance of fiber in a child’s diet and how to incorporate high-fiber foods for kids.

1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

Language Support:
Jump back to top