Do you suffer from “protein anxiety?” It’s a condition commonly seen in people who have never had a protein deficiency, but worry endlessly that they’re not getting enough. They pile on the meat, fish, eggs, or cheese, trying to avert an imaginary lack of protein.
Of course, the body needs some protein to build and repair body tissues. But protein is widely available in beans, vegetables, and grains. It is almost impossible not to get all the protein you need, even without eating meat, dairy, or eggs.
Here are the numbers: An average women needs about 46 grams of protein per day; the average man about 56. If a person were to eat nothing but broccoli for a day, a 2,000-calorie diet would provide a whopping 146 grams of protein. Yes, green vegetables are loaded with protein. A person eating only lentils would get even more—2,000 calories’ worth of lentils pack 157 grams. Of course, no one would eat only broccoli or only lentils, and it is much better to combine foods—beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits—to get complete nutrition. The point is that plant-based foods clearly provide abundant protein.
The average American actually consumes too much protein, according to the CDC, with most people getting nearly double the amount they actually need. And more isn’t better. When protein comes from animal products—which are high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol—diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease often follow.
So how much protein do you really need?
You can calculate your daily requirement using this calculator, or multiply your weight (in pounds) by 0.36 to calculate the grams of protein you need in a day. For example, someone who weighs 140 pounds needs about 50 grams of protein per day. And once you’ve calculated it, forget it. There is no need for “protein anxiety.” Because a varied plant-based diet of whole grains, vegetables, and beans can easily meet your daily protein needs, without the risks of animal products. Read our infographic to below to see how it all adds up!
About Dr. Neal Barnard
Clinical researcher and author Neal Barnard, M.D., is one of America’s leading advocates for health, nutrition,and higher standards in research. As the principal investigator of several human clinical researchtrials, whose results are published in peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals, Dr. Barnard has examined key issues in health and nutrition. Neal Barnard is the founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). For more about Dr. Neal Barnard, visit his website nealbarnard.org
Top Photo Credit: Victoria Pearson