While there are still many people out there that believe the only way to get protein in your diet is by eating animal products, vegans and vegetarians both know there are other options. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to want to eat a more plant based diet though. Maybe you just want to cut back on red meat for heart health, or maybe you know that you are getting far more protein than you need when you are eating meat all day.
That is one of the biggest issues that many meat-eaters face, too much protein in their diets. When you learn how much protein you need, and how much is actually in the foods that you eat on a daily basis, you just might be surprised.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The USDA recommends that women get about 46 grams, and men get 56 grams, or protein each day. With that in mind, a three ounce serving of meat (which is about the size of a deck of cards) contains around 21 grams of protein. The size normally eaten, eight ounces, would be roughly 50 grams.
That’s just the amount hiding in the meat you eat each day. Other meat by-products, like eggs and dairy, also contain protein. A cup of milk is about eight grams and a container of yogurt 11. For women, if you are eating an eight ounce steak for dinner you’ve already gotten more than enough protein for the day, without even considering the other foods you’re eating that contain some.
Non-Animal Protein Sources
One cup of green peas is almost as much protein as a glass of milk. The ancient grain quinoa also has the same amount as a glass of milk per cup. There are also about six ounces of protein in every ounce of nuts, from almonds to cashews. This can add up if you like things like peanut butter and almond butter.
Beans are one of the best alternative sources of protein through, and through them you could actually cut meat right out of your diet, if you wanted to. With 26 grams of protein in just two cups of kidney beans, you can see how easy it would be to go meatless.
If beans aren’t your thing, you can also try tofu as a meat replacement. There are about 20 grams of protein in a half a cup of tofu, which is one reason it is a common meat replacement for people that don’t eat meat.
There are many reasons your body needs protein. It helps your metabolism, regulates insulin in the blood, and it even supports your immune system. Make sure you are getting the protein you need, but work toward not getting too much, by eating the right foods and living on a healthy diet.