Protein — Why, From Where, and How Much

I am often asked about pro­tein.  How much do I need?  If I eat lit­tle or no meat, where what are the best sources of pro­tein?  I’m tired, run-down, my injuries don’t heal quickly, I’ve lost mus­cle mass and my body fat is up…but what does this have to do with pro­tein?  


Could you be pro­tein defi­cient?  Pos­si­bly, if… 

  • You’re tired and run-down even though you’re get­ting enough sleep
  • You have injuries that don’t heal quickly
  • You’re eat­ing clean but your mus­cle mass is down
  • You feel weak and fatique eas­ily when work­ing out or exercising
  • You’re hair is falling out, nails are weak and brit­tle, and skin doesn’t look healthy

What to do? 

Eat more pro­tein! First let me say, I’m not here to tell you where to get your pro­tein.  I firmly believe the answer is dif­fer­ent is for every­one. While a mostly plant-based diet is best for over­all health, mak­ing sure you get enough pro­tein in vitally impor­tant. YouMUST get in enough pro­tein in order for your mus­cles to rebuild and repair, for your body to heal, for new mus­cle growth, to sup­port new cell growth, aid in gain­ing and keep­ing lean mus­cle mass, and to keep your metab­o­lism burn­ing.  Where you get that pro­tein is up to you.

I’m not rein­vent­ing the wheel with this dis­cus­sion.  What I’m say­ing isn’t some­thing new.  But what’s very clear is that many peo­ple have a hard time get­ting enough protein.  

So how much pro­tein do you need?  

This depends on your activ­ity level, size, weight, and if your are build­ing or repair­ing mus­cles.  Many veg­e­tar­ian sites typ­i­cally rec­om­mend a low amount of pro­tein of .4 grams of pro­tein per 1 lb of body weight (mul­ti­ply body­weight by .4=daily intake).  Run­ning sites will range from .5 to .8gr/1lb body weight depend­ing on activ­ity level.  Pri­mal or paleo sites rec­om­mend a higher amount, .9 to 1.8gr/1lb body weight also depend­ing on activ­ity level.  Body­build­ing sites have the amount even higher.  I have found through both research and work­ing directly with boot campers and clients, a min­i­mum of 75gr-125gr of pro­tein (.8gr/1lb body weight) is needed for most clients work­ing out a min­i­mum of 3–4 days per week doing a mix of high inten­sity inter­val train­ing and/or strength train­ing.  Again, base this on your weight and activ­ity level, but I always see issues when pro­tein falls below 75gr per day.

What foods are high in protein?

Beans, Nuts, Seeds, Meat, Fish, Dairy, Plants and Pro­tein Powders.  

Here are Pro­tein Pow­ders that I rec­om­mend.  I pre­fer Vega One for taste and con­sis­tency, but everyone’s likes are dif­fer­ent.  Find one you like and add it to your daily menu plan if you are hav­ing a hard time get­ting enough pro­tein in:

The fol­low­ing sup­ple­ments are fan­tas­tic addi­tives for your smoothies:

*Spir­ulina — highly rec­om­mend as it is a com­plete pro­tein and so, so good for you!  “Spir­ulina con­tains a high amount of pro­tein, vit­a­mins, and min­er­als. It is about 60–70% pro­tein, which is greater gram for gram than both red meat and soy. It also con­tains all of the essen­tial amino acids, which makes it a com­plete pro­tein; this is not very com­mon in plant foods. It con­tains a large amount of Vit­a­min B12, which is very dif­fi­cult to find in other plant foods. That is one rea­son why Spir­ulina is such a great choice for veg­e­tar­i­ans. Spir­ulina is very rich in iron, which is the most com­mon min­eral defi­ciency. Spir­ulina also con­tains cal­cium, mag­ne­sium, and Vit­a­mins A, B, C, D and E. Due to its abil­ity to with­stand high tem­per­a­tures, it is able to retain its nutri­tional value dur­ing pro­cess­ing and shelf stor­age. Many other plant foods will dete­ri­o­rate at these tem­per­a­tures. It only con­tains 3.9 calo­ries per gram and still has all of these great ben­e­fits. It is a low calo­rie, nutri­ent dense food.”

Chia Seeds — “Chia also pro­vides the body with vit­a­mins A, B, E and D and min­er­als such as cal­cium, cop­per, iron, mag­ne­sium, man­ganese, molyb­de­num, niacin, phos­pho­rous, potas­sium, sil­i­con, sodium, sul­phur, thi­amine and zinc. Chia seeds are also a won­der­ful source of pro­tein. Pro­teins are the build­ing blocks of the body, hair, skin, nails, mus­cles, red blood cells, as well as essen­tial and non essen­tial amino acids and fiber, all of which are nec­es­sary for good cir­cu­la­tion and a healthy heart. Chia seeds also help to mod­u­late blood sugar…”

Hemp Pow­der, Seeds or Hearts — Con­tains “24% pro­tein includes the full range of amino acids as well as a bal­anced source of Essen­tial Fatty Acids or EFAs#1. EFAs include omega-3 and omega-6, which help us keep a healthy immune sys­tem, and are respon­si­ble for shiny healthy look­ing skin, hair and nails. A reduc­tion in the crav­ing for junk foods is also notice­able among many reg­u­lar con­sumers of hemp seed and hemp food products.” 

Addi­tional Info:

Here are links to sev­eral sites pro­vide some great infor­ma­tion and fur­ther detail:

Dis­claimerThe infor­ma­tion pre­sented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your per­sonal physician’s advice and is not intended to diag­nose, treat, cure or pre­vent any dis­ease. Dis­cuss your sit­u­a­tion with your own physi­cian or health­care provider to deter­mine what is right for you. All infor­ma­tion is intended for your gen­eral knowl­edge only and is not a sub­sti­tute for med­ical advice or treat­ment for spe­cific med­ical conditions.