While I love supplementing my diet with quality protein powders, people ask me all the time if they can get enough protein without using supplements. My answer? Yes! Protein is readily available from a variety of food sources and while meat is generally thought of as the main source of protein, there are so many other options out there for meat lovers and vegetarians alike.
How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
The average person needs about .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or .37 grams per pound) according to the US Department of Agriculture. This means that a person weighing 130 pounds would require about 48 grams of protein. This, of course, is increased for weight lifters looking to build muscle to 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Without the necessary amount of protein, your body may start to develop a number of symptoms including fatigue during everyday activities, loss in muscle mass, compromised immune function and a greater risk of injury. So how hard it is to get your recommended daily value? Let’s find out by looking at the top protein sources found naturally in food.
For The Meat Eater
- Lean ground beef, 4 ounces = 28 grams protein
- Steak, 6 ounces = 42 grams
- Chicken breast, 4 ounces = 30 grams protein
- Pork chop, 4 ounces = 25 grams protein
Eggs & Dairy
- Egg, large = 6 grams protein
- Milk, 1 cup = 8 grams
- Cottage cheese, ½ cup = 15 grams
- Yogurt, 1 cup = 8-12 grams (Greek yogurt has about 5 more grams)
- Soft cheeses = 6 grams per ounce
For The Vegetarian
- Tofu, ½ cup = 10 grams protein
- Soy milk, 1 cup = 6-10 grams
- Beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc.), ½ cup = 7-10 grams protein
- Soybeans, ½ cup cooked = 14 grams protein
Nuts and Seeds
- Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons = 8 grams protein
- Almonds, ¼ cup = 8 grams
- Peanuts, ¼ cup = 9 grams
- Cashews, ¼ cup = 5 grams
- Pecans, ¼ cup = 2.5 grams
- Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup = 6 grams
- Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup = 8 grams
- Flax seeds, ¼ cup = 8 grams
For The Paleo
- Most fish fillets, 3.5 ounces = 22 grams of protein
- Tuna, 4 ounce pouch = 20 grams of protein
- Spinach, 1-2 cups = 5.3 grams of protein
- Asparagus and broccoli, 2 cups = 4.6 grams
- Collard greens and Brussels sprouts, 2 cups = 4 grams
- Green peas, 1 cup = 8.6 grams protein
No matter your diet, it isn’t hard to get the recommended amount of protein you need on a daily basis. If you choose to supplement with protein powder, great, but using food sources to reach your protein goals is as simple as eating a balanced diet.