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Why Do We Need Protein?

Proteins provide the necessary building blocks for growth and repairing cells like those in your muscles, skin, and nails. Protein not only has a role in keeping your body healthy, but it is also nutritionally satisfying and filling which can aid in weight management. Getting enough in your diet by incorporating a variety of protein foods can be beneficial to your health. 

5 Tips for Choosing Protein: 

  1. Vary your protein food choices - Eat a variety of foods rich in protein each week. Experiment with main dishes made with beans or peas, nuts, soy, and seafood. 

  1. Choose seafood or fish twice per week - Eat seafood in place of meat or poultry twice a week. Select a variety of seafood—include some that are higher in oils and low in mercury, such as salmon, trout, and herring. 

  1. Choose and prepare lean meat and poultry - Choose lean or low-fat cuts of meat like round or sirloin and ground beef that is at least 90% lean. Trim or drain fat from meat and remove poultry skin. 

  1. Eat plant protein foods more often -Try beans and peas (kidney, pinto, black, or white beans; split peas; chickpeas; hummus), soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers), nuts, and seeds. They are naturally low in saturated fat and high in fibre. 

  1. Nuts and Seeds - Choose unsalted nuts or seeds as a snack, on salads, or in main dishes to replace meat or poultry. Nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of calories, so keep your portions in check (1 serving = ¼ cup or 2 Tbsp).  

How much do we need? 

Aim to fill ¼ of your plate full of lean protein. Health Canada recommends that adults over 19 years of age eat a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, but protein needs can be very individual.  For example, athletes, children, and breastfeeding and pregnant women may have different needs. Consult your dietitian to help determine your protein needs. 

Use the following equation to  help estimate out how much protein you need: 

Step 1:
Weight in pounds ÷ 2.2 = Weight in kilograms 

Step 2: 
Weight in kilograms x 0.8 = Average Daily Protein Need 

Example: male, weighing 176 lbs  

Step 1:  176 lbs ÷ 2.2 = 80 kg 
Step 2:  80 kg x 0.8 = 64 grams of protein per day 

Example: female, weighing 143 lbs  

Step 1:  143 lbs ÷2.2 = 65 kg  
Step 2:  65 kg x 0.8 = 52 grams of protein per day 

A portion of protein:  

  • Meat/fish/poultry 90g/3oz, = a deck of cards or the palm of your hand 
  • Cheese: 1-1.5oz = golf ball, 4 dice 
  • Nuts: = 2 Tbsp= a golf ball or 2 thumbs 


*Protein content may vary among protein powder supplements
**If foods are not found on this list they may not be significant sources of protein – check with your dietitian