Focus on Protein

Written by UConn Dietetics Masters student Mackenzie Merriman

eggs in carton Power up with protein! The building block of all our cells, protein helps us to stay full, promotes muscle growth and repair, aids in strength of joints and supports immune health. Along with carbohydrates and fats, proteins supply calories/fuel/energy to our bodies. It is important to know that our body is constantly using protein and breaking it down, so the best thing we can do is replenish it to keep our bodies running smoothly. Remember, our bodies need certain amounts of protein–and the protein building blocks amino acids– every single day to stay our healthiest. 1


What Protein Gives to our Bodies: 2

  • Keeps us full – Protein triggers our fullness cues (hormones) and keeps us full longer. 
  • Muscle growth & repair – After working out or using our muscles, protein helps to repair, grow and keep those muscles healthy and strong.  
  • Helps with strength of joints – Proteins (such as collagen) help keep joints (like knees, hips, shoulders) strong and healthy, making them stable and ready for movement.
  • Supports immune health – Our immune system is made of proteins (antibodies) that protect our body from illness. 

      Check out these options!

      • Seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy products 
      • High protein veggies: peas, artichokes, sweet corn, asparagus, mushrooms and kale
      • Fruits have very little, but a good choice is avocado

       How much protein do I need?

      Protein intake is very individualized. Anywhere from 10% to 35% of your daily calories should come from protein. If your calorie needs for your typical daily activity levels are 2,000 calories, that’s 200–700 calories from protein, or 50–175 grams of protein per day. The recommended dietary allowance to prevent deficiency for an average sedentary (not very active) adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight 4 . As we age (65+), muscle mass is more easily lost, and daily protein intake is very important, with the daily amount edging up from 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight to about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.  If someone exercises routinely, or lifts weights, additional protein would be recommended. And certain medical or surgical injuries or conditions would also require an individualized approach. Remember to include high quality proteins in each of your meals and snacks to get the most benefit from this nutrient! 





      This material is funded by UDSA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

      This institution is an equal opportunity provider.