Pumping Up on Protein

Blog #4: Pumping Up on Protein

Danya Adolphs, DTR

Starting out in BodyBack, you may wonder if you need to increase your protein intake to help build those shiny new muscles. While we know that protein is needed to build, maintain and repair tissues, we may not know how much is actually necessary in our daily diet.

For the average adult, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. [Body weight in kg x 0.36= grams of protein for daily intake]. However, the typical American consumes more than twice that amount, mainly from animal sources that are high in saturated fat and can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Recent fad diets tout the need for even higher intake of protein and drastic reduction of carbohydrates (forgetting the fact that carbohydrates also include dairy products, fruits and vegetables). However, research shows that high amounts of protein in your diet can actually contribute to disease and health problems such as osteoporosis, cancer, and kidney dysfunction.

Another surprising fact about dietary protein is that protein is found in foods other than just animal products. Probably one of the first questions people ask me when they learn I am a vegetarian is, "where do you get your protein from?" The great news is, there are even healthier non-meat sources of protein found in vegetables, grains, and legumes. Dark leafy greens like kale and romaine lettuce actually have more protein per pound than a piece of steak! Take a look at these sources if you are seeking alternatives to animal proteins:

Where can you find these healthy protein sources?

Healthful Protein Sources (in grams)

Black beans, boiled (1 cup) .................................15.2

Broccoli (1 cup)....................................................4.6

Bulgur, cooked (1 cup)..........................................5.6

Chickpeas, boiled (1 cup) ....................................14.5

Lentils, boiled (1 cup)..........................................17.9

Quinoa, cooked (1 cup)........................................11.0

Seitan (4 ounces)................................................24.0

Spinach, boiled (1 cup)..........................................5.4

Tempeh (1/2 cup).................................................15.7

Tofu, firm (1/2 cup)..............................................19.9

Whole-wheat bread (one slice).....................……….2.7

Peanut butter (2 tablespoons)................................8.0

Almonds (¼ cup)………………………………………..8.0

Cashews (¼ cup)……………………………………….5.0

Pumpkin seeds (¼ cup)………………………………..8.0

Flax seeds (¼ cup)……………………………………..8.0

Source: J.A.T. Pennington, Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly
Used, 17th ed. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1998).