The majority of sedentary people don’t really need to consume copious amounts of protein, even the recommended daily intake averages out 46 grams of protein per day for adult women and 56 grams of protein per day for adult men.
However, bodybuilders and other types of athletes may even require up to a whopping 200-250 grams of protein per day to meet their daily goals, which is a figure that’s usually achieved through the consumption of supplements, but that is not always the case.
It is quite possible to achieve a daily intake of 200 grams of protein all through a healthy balanced diet!
Athletes vs average people protein needs
The Institute of Medicine’s established daily reference intake for protein is as follows: 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram, or rather 2.2 pounds, of bodyweight.
Those 56 grams of protein per day average for men is based on the presumed weight of 150 pounds, so that means if you are, for example, a male amassing 220 pounds of bodyweight, you would need to consume 80 grams of protein a day to meet the minimum recommendations.
Although, many researchers have come out and stated that a ratio of 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is a bit more appropriate for bodybuilders, which then would make 200 grams of protein the right amount of protein for a man who weighs 100 kg, or 220 pounds.
How to build meals and a diet around protein
There are many studies out there that have shown that by distributing your protein consumption all throughout the day can vastly improve your body’s uptake of protein after a good exercise. The crucial component of this process of spreading your protein consumption throughout the day is to be consciously choosing foods high in protein and to tweak your portion sizes to reach your utmost total goals.
You could try to vary your protein sources a bit each day, so you don’t get into a monotonous and dull habit of eating the same old things. Nobody wants to make eating a meal a chore. When considering your options, consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database as it can possibly help you to do so. To make it easier to search, use the Nutrients List function and then you can choose a category such as grains or meat and then just sort them by the amount of protein they have.
Breakfast options high in protein
For some, making a high protein breakfast is easy. For example, if eggs suit your fancy, then this won’t be a difficult matter to you, as eggs do have a lot of protein, two large whole eggs provide over 12 grams of protein, so if you add a couple more, let’s say three or four extra egg whites that will easily bring you over 20 grams of protein!
To add a bit more flavor you can top them with an ounce of cheddar for another good 6 grams of protein, and serve them with a 4 ounce ham steak which amounts to 22 grams of protein. With this you are already hitting the quarter mark of your daily intake before you even leave the table.
Some other good choices of high protein breakfast foods are:
- Greek yogurt
- Peanut butter and other nut butters
- Cottage cheese
- Skim milk
- Chicken breasts
- Breakfast sausage
Lunch options high in protein
A majority of people tend to struggle to completely eat a full sized meal at breakfast, but that isn’t the case when it comes to lunch and dinner.
You can try to prepare a cup of roasted chicken breast, which will add 43 grams of protein to a salad or even a wrap. You can up the protein amount of any meal by simply adding some dairy products like milk, cheese or even yogurt, legumes such as peas, beans and lentils are a surprisingly good protein option as well!
Here are a few lunch protein rich options:
- Cooked sausage
- Canned tuna
- Dry salami
- Turkey or chicken breast
- Nuts or nut butters
- Peas and beans
- Lean beef
- Firm cheeses
Dinner options rich in protein
Of course, we can’t simply forget about dinner and the many protein rich options it has. Since it’s the easiest meal of the day to orient around high protein since you will have fewer limitations on time, how and what you will cook.
So dinner’s a pretty good time to make something out of easily perishable foods such as shellfish or fish, which have a great amount of protein in such a lean package, take for example a 5 ounce fillet portion of either salmon, trout, mackerel, herring or pike will come up over 30 grams of protein all on its own!
Other great options for a protein rich dinner are:
- Lean beef, pork, lamb and other meats
- Shellfish, such as shrimp or crab
- Beans and lentils
- Cheese and dairy products
Snacks high in protein
Last but not least, snacking! Some people tend to feel sluggish after eating bigger meals throughout the day, so they might take up snacking in between meals and after work outs as a way to make up some of their daily protein goals.
However, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of those protein rich foods such as seeds and nuts, which are pretty difficult to integrate into your standard sit down meals. One quarter cup of pumpkin seeds’ protein count will come up to almost 9 grams, while half a cup of roasted almonds will come up well over 16 grams of protein!
Other equally good protein rich snack options are:
- Sunflower seeds
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Nut or seed butters
- Low-fat milk
Know how to keep your balance
With all of this talk about protein, one can simply lose themselves into it. But it is important to remember that besides protein, your body needs its daily intake of both carbs and fats so it can function well.
You need to be as selective with your fats and carbs as you are with your protein, fortunately there are many great options to pick and choose from in all of these three categories.
It is recommended that in order to have a more balanced diet, you should opt to eat so called nutrient dense foods, which means they provide a lot of nutritional value in exchange for the calories that they have.
When talking about carbs, take whole grains for an example, they are nutrient dense but sugar on the other hand, is not.
Both avocados and nuts provide the needed healthy fats and a lot of nutrients, while potato chips are simply unhealthy. It may seem pretty difficult to do at first, but don’t worry, over time you will come to find that making that kind of value judgement will become sort of a second nature and it will be easier to meet your muscle mass goals and overall fitness goals that way!