Your daily protein need depends on your age, body size, and gender. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests about 15 to 20 percent of your calories come from protein. Each gram of protein has 4 calories, so for a 2,000 calorie per day diet, that equals 75 to 100 grams of protein per day.
Another way to determine your protein need is to base it on your body weight. The recommended amount of protein for most adults is approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. One kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, so a person who weighs 165 pounds (75kg) would need about 60 grams of protein per day.
Meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, legumes, roasted nuts and seeds, and dairy products are all good sources of protein. I've got some tips for cooking meat, poultry and fish, and the USDA offers these suggestions:
- Choose low-fat meats and poultry to avoid saturated fats.
- Seafood is an excellent protein source because it's also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Omega eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids, plus the protein normally found in eggs.
- Avoid processed lunch meats, sausage and bacon because they're high in saturated fat and sodium.
McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Macronutrients: the Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat." Accessed June 24, 2011. http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/Handouts/macronutrients.htm.
United States Department of Agriculture. "Food Intake Patterns." Accessed June 24, 2011. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/MyPyramid_Food_Intake_Patterns.pdf.
United States Department of Agriculture. "What Are Oils?" Accessed June 24, 2011. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/oils.html.
United States Department of Agriculture. "What Foods Are in the Protein Foods Group?" Accessed June 24, 2011. .