There is one thing all the low fat, no carb, gluten free, Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, Raw Food and Vegetarian diets have in common – they all include protein. So many diets require you to eliminate a certain food group or go fat free, wheat free, dairy free, or sugar free but none will advise you to cut out protein.

And there is good reason for that.

Protein is important. It is a basic requirement to almost all bodily functions. It plays a role in our muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue, enzymes, hormones, cells and fluids, in building muscle and maintaining a healthy weight. Proteins in the body are made from smaller molecules which come from food and need to be replenished on a daily basis.

Why Protein Should Be Your Priority

But how much do you really know or think about protein? Do you include it in every meal? In snacks? Do you bake with high protein ingredients? Do you know how much you need? Do you know the best protein sources beside meat?

Power of Protein

Protein is a part of every cell in the body
Protein is a part of the enzymes that break down your food, absorb nutrients, remove waste, allow you to grow, move and reproduce
Protein along with iron, carries oxygen through your body
Protein is part of your muscle fibers, bones, hormones, hair, and nails
Protein is part of the antibodies that protect against viruses

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The easiest way to determine the minimum amount of protein you should consume in a day is to multiply your body weight (in pounds) by .3.

A 150lbs adult requires a minimum of 55 grams of protein daily. If you are active or looking to build muscle, you have higher requirements. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietician to be sure of how much protein is right for you, then make adding protein to your diet a priority.

Powerful Protein Sources

Meat Sources

Hamburger 6 grams per oz
Steak 7 grams per oz
Chicken breast 9 grams per oz
Fish fillet, steak or canned tuna 6 grams per oz
Pork loin or tenderloin 7 grams per oz
Ham 6 grams per oz

Eggs and Dairy

Egg 6 grams per egg
Milk (incl soy) 8 grams per cup
Cottage cheese 15 grams per 1/2 cup
Greek yogurt 10 grams per 1/2 cup
Cheddar 7 grams per oz

Grains

Quinoa cooked 8 grams per cup
Oatmeal cooked 6 grams per cup
Amaranth cooked 9 grams per cup
Bulgar cooked 6 grams per cup

Beans and Tofu

Tofu 10 grams per 1/2 cup
Black beans cooked 7 grams per 1/2 cup
Lentils cooked 9 grams per 1/2 cup
Edamame cooked 9 grams per 1/2 cup
Chick peas 7 grams per 1/2 cup

Nuts and Seeds

Peanut butter 4 grams per 1 tbsp
Almonds 8 grams per 1/4 cup (32 almonds)
Peanuts 9 grams per 1/4 cup
Cashews 6 grams per 1/4 cup
Sunflower seeds 7 grams per 1/4 cup
Pumpkin seeds 6 grams per 1/2 cup
Flaxseed ground 8 grams per 1/4 cup
Chai seeds 9 grams per 1/4 cup
Hemp seeds 20 grams per 1/4 cup

It is important to keep in mind that not all proteins are created equal. Eggs contain all the amino acids and are a complete protein but grains are not. Be sure to eat a variety of protein sources and when you are deciding on your next meal or snack, make sure to make protein a priority.