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Calculate Your Protein: How much protein do you need?

 

Your daily protein need is based on how big you are and your level of activity, with larger and more highly physically active individuals requiring more protein per meal and per day than lighter more sedentary ones.

To calculate the amount of protein you should eat at each meal, you’ll only need to know your gender, your total weight (in pounds) and your height (in feet and inches).

Armed with that information, women should consult the Protein Requirements for Women table for their per meal protein requirement in grams and men should consult Protein Requirements for Men table for their per meal requirement in grams.

 

Once you have determined the amount of protein you need for good health, what does that mean in meat, poultry, game, fish, seafood, eggs, or dairy products?

If you need 20 grams of protein, that's about a 3 ounce (85 g) portion of any of these protein-rich foods per meal, alone or in combination.

If you need 27 grams of protein, that's just under a  4 ounce portion (115 g) of any of these protein-rich foods per meal, alone or in combination.

If you need 34 grams of protein, that's just under 5 ounces (142 g) of any of these protein-rich foods per meal, alone or in combination.

If you need 40 grams of protein, that's just under 6 ounces (170g) of any of these protein-rich foods per meal, alone or in combination

If you need 46 grams, just under 8 ounces (225 g) of any of these protein-rich foods per meal, alone or in combinations.

Here is how the various protein foods stack up as ounces or grams per portion:

  • 1 ounce (30 g) of meat, poultry, fish, seafood or hard cheese contains about 7 grams of protein (the rest being fat and water, for the most part).                                                                    
  • A large whole egg contains about 6 grams of protein (4 in the white and 2 in the yolk).                                                            
  • Cottage cheese contains about 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup (60 ml), thus a 20 gram protein per meal requirement, if taken just as cottage cheese, would be 3/4 cup (180 ml). (Also contains___ grams carbohydrate grams per 1/4 cup that must be counted toward your day’s carbohydrate total.)                                        
  • Soft cheeses (cream cheese, Neufschatel, ricotta) contain about 3 to 4 grams of protein per 1/4 cup (60 ml) but should be used as condiments in combination with other proteins, such as meat or eggs, not as a sole protein source at a meal, because their low protein content means it would take too large a serving (too many calories) to get an adequate serving. (Also contains about 1 gram of carbohydrate per ounce that must be counted toward your day’s carbohydrate total.                                                           
  • Tofu contains about 8 to 10 grams per 1/4 cup (57 g) serving. (Also contains carbohydrate grams that must be counted.             


Here's how to determine what your required protein serving would look like in food:


To calculate how much of a particular food to eat to meet your protein requirement, simply divide your Protein Requirement in grams (from the table for men or women) by the number of grams of protein in the particular food you'd like to eat.

 

Example: A woman who is 5’6” and 150 pounds. The Protein Requirement for Women table tells her she will need about 27 grams of protein per meal. If she wanted to eat steak for dinner, what size serving would she need?

 

27 grams ÷ 7 grams per ounce (for meat) = 3.86 ounces

 

Which she could round down to 3-1/2 ounces (111 g) or up to 4 ounces (114 g) of steak.