Do You Get Enough Protein?

  1. and I were invited to his parents’ home for another Jewish holiday this week, the feast of Erev Sukkot. His cousin visiting from New York City, a graduate of Harvard’s medical school, questioned us about our protein intake on a vegetarian Yoga diet. What was our source? Were we getting enough? He seemed unsure of our answer.


So…. AM I getting enough protein? Are you?

Let’s count protein. For breakfast this morning I had my usual breakfast mix in a bowl:

5 grams from ½ cup of un-cooked oatmeal

3.5 grams in 2 tablespoons of flaxseed

2 grams in one peach

2 grams in one banana

1 gram from 3 tablespoons of raisins

= 13.5 grams of protein


For lunch I had a pretty usual meal, too:

4 grams from 2 cups of raw vegetables in salad

2 grams from 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds added to the salad

2.5 grams from 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds added to the salad

2 grams from 3 Brazil nuts

6 grams from 2 slices of whole grain bread

= 16.5 grams of protein

And for dinner I’m planning on black bean burritos – yum!

15 grams from 1 cup of cooked black beans

0 grams from 2 flour tortillas

1 gram from ½ cup of raw vegetables

2 grams from ½ cup of cooked vegetables

5 grams from 1 cup of cooked spinach on the side

= 23 grams of protein

That means my protein count is 53 grams. Ill have eaten all that protein by the end of the day. But how much do I need?

The RDA is only 0.8 grams per kilogram.

Body weight (in pounds) X 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams)

I weigh 125 pounds, so my recommended daily protein intake is 45 grams.

Tah dah! I am definitely getting plenty of protein.

The RDA recommended amount is an over estimation, maybe by far. Exactly how much protein we really need to eat remains a bit of a mystery. The current requirement values are based on inexact science. And don’t forget that although too little protein can cause health problems, too much protein definitely does, too.

For more of the science, check out The Protein Myth from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s website. For a shortcut to a daily tally so you dont have to count protein, they recommend:

  • “Aim for 5 or more servings of grains each day. This may include 1/2 cup of hot cereal, 1 oz. of dry cereal, or 1 slice of bread. Each serving contains roughly 3 grams of protein.
  • Aim for 3 or more servings of vegetables each day. This may include 1 cup of raw vegetables, 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. Each serving contains about 2 grams of protein.”

If you want to count protein grams based on your diet for today, go here to look up the amount of protein in each separate food component.

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