Learning About Getting More Protein

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How does your body use protein?

Protein is an essential part of our diets. It is made up of chemicals called amino acids. Your body needs protein to help build and repair muscle, skin, and other body tissues. Protein also helps fight infection, balance body fluids, and carry oxygen through the body.

How much protein do you need?

How much protein you need each day depends on your age, sex, and how active you are. It's recommended that most adults eat 5 to 7 ounces of protein foods a day. Sometimes you may need to eat more protein. Your doctor may advise you on the right amount of protein you need.

What foods contain protein?

Protein is found in a variety of foods. High-protein foods include lean meat, poultry, and fish. A serving of these foods is 2 to 3 ounces. (3 ounces is about the size and thickness of a deck of cards.)

Protein isn't just found in meat. If you are looking for other types of protein, the following foods are equal to about 1 ounce of meat:

  • ¼ cup of cooked beans, peas, or lentils
  • ¼ cup of tofu (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 Tbsp of hummus
  • ½ ounce of nuts or seeds (for example, 12 almonds or 7 walnut halves)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp of peanut butter or other nut or seed butter

Other sources of protein include cheese, milk, and other milk products. You can also buy protein bars, drinks, and powders. Check the nutrition label for the amount of protein in each serving.

What are some tips for getting more protein?

You can get more protein in your food by adding high-protein ingredients. For example, you can:

  • Add powdered milk to other foods, such as pudding or soups.
  • Add powdered protein to fruit smoothies and cooked cereal.
  • Add beans to soup and chili.
  • Add nuts, seeds, or wheat germ to yogurt.

You can also:

  • Spread peanut butter onto a banana.
  • Mix cottage cheese into noodle dishes or casseroles.
  • Sprinkle hard-boiled eggs on a salad.
  • Grate cheese over vegetables and soups.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.