How much protein do I need?

Protein is often misunderstood. It’s managed to gain a reputation for being reserved for muscle-bound gym-goers that want to bulk up – sipping protein shakes as they recover from another session on the weights.

While it is great for building muscle mass, it plays so many critical roles within our bodies that it deserves a bit more focus. Some of us don’t get enough protein, and many of us consume more than is recommended – this may not be a problem, but it depends on where it is coming from.

As you can see, you can get yourself in a tangle pretty quickly, so we wanted to create this easy-to-understand guide to protein: what it is, how much protein you need, and the best ways to get more protein in your diet.

What is protein?

Proteins are complex molecules (aren’t we all?), which are made up of lots of different amino acids – effectively building blocks, which are found in plants and animals. These blocks are arranged in countless different combinations to create different proteins, which is why it’s not enough to say you need to get more protein, for example – you need to get more of the right kind of protein.

Amino acids can mainly be separated into one of two groups – essential or non-essential. As you can probably guess, we need essential amino acids in our diet, whereas our body can produce non-essential amino acids by itself.

Why do we need protein?

Every part of your body needs protein. From your organs to your hair, and everything in between – it all needs protein for many different functions. Some proteins form antibodies, which protect us from viruses and bacteria, some help to provide structural support to enzymes and hormones which help control thousands of different chemical reactions within our cells and transfer messages. Protein helps us create energy, and it carries oxygen in our blood.

You don’t need to be a registered dietitian to realise that protein is incredibly important.

What happens if you don’t get enough protein?

If you aren’t getting enough protein, it can have a number of different impacts on your body. You may notice some swelling in your hands, legs or feet, or you may find that your hair starts to thin or your skin becomes flaky. You may also experience mood swings, feeling tired or hungry all the time and difficulty concentrating. Finally, there is a chance that it takes longer for your body to heal cuts or scrapes.

How much protein do we need?

Unfortunately there isn’t one answer for this question, as everyone needs a slightly different amount depending on their general health. For example, older people require more protein in their diet to avoid muscle wastage. Children also need more protein (relative to their size) than adults as their bodies use that protein to grow.

However, for a health adult, there is a neat formula you can use to work out the amount of protein you need in your diet, according to the NHS:

1 gram of protein for every kg of body weight

So if you are 65 kg, aim to eat around 65 grams of protein every day. This is roughly two portions of high protein food, like meat, fish or nuts.

One huge benefit of protein, if we are looking to lose weight, is that it can make us feel full, and therefore mean we don’t consume as many calories. A lower carb, high-protein diet can be a great way to lose some weight.

Examples of high protein foods

If you’re looking to increase your protein intake, here are some foods you can try adding in:

Obviously meat is high-protein, but not everyone wants to increase the amount we eat for many reasons – meat often is higher in fat, and leads to higher risks of heart disease. So try replacing it with fish – a much leaner alternative. Eggs are another good option.

Dairy products are also a great source of protein, like dairy milk (not the chocolate), Greek yogurt and cheese, but again you need to be wary of the fat content. Some plant-based dairy replacements, like soy, are also great sources of protein, but almond milk is much lower in protein – so if you are using that instead of dairy you may need to find more sources of protein in your diet.

Nuts are another great source of protein, and are also high in healthy fats – so you could try adding nut butter into your diet, like peanut butter (or chocolate peanut butter for a treat) or even almond butter (despite almond milk being low, almond butter is a good source of protein).

Legumes and pulses are another great source – Lentils, chickpeas, peas. Also some seeds like chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, whole grains and flaxseeds are all excellent for snacking on between meals. There are a couple of fruits that have a high protein content as well – avocado and guava.

Finally, there is an obvious one – protein powder. It’s become increasingly popular over the last few years, as people look to top up their protein intake and support their muscle growth.

How to add more protein to your diet

It’s all very well listing a load of foods that are high in protein, but how do you add in more in your day-to-day diet? Wholesale change is difficult, and in most instances, unsustainable. You need to look for those marginal gains, where you make little increases here and there.

For example, a high protein smoothie can make a healthy breakfast, and you can tailor the recipe so that all the ingredients are working for your body. Almost all of the foods listed in the section above can be included in a delicious smoothie (not meat and fish, obviously – we’re still working on our Surf N Turf smoothie recipe…), so you just need to put them together.

Use some frozen banana, or any frozen fruit like frozen mixed berries, add in a liquid of your choice (orange juice works fine, but try cow’s or coconut milk), and then you can start adding in even more protein. Nut butters, plain Greek yogurt, vanilla protein powder, chia seeds, avocado – whatever takes your fancy.

Top it off with some extra flavour like vanilla extract, cocoa powder or maple syrup and add in a bit more liquid for easy blending – voila – you have a healthy breakfast that will keep you going all the way through to lunch.

High protein smoothies delivered to your door

Our favourite way to get more protein in your diet? A high-protein smoothie (erm, like this one that we happen to make). Make up a delicious smoothie and top it up with some vanilla protein powder, or oats, or peanut butter, or natural Greek yogurt (you get the idea), and you’ve got a quick breakfast that is packed with nutrition, and high in protein.

If that appeals to you, we can do most of the work to make things as easy as possible. Choose our new Protein Bundle – where the smoothies are prepped, packaged and frozen, and delivered to your freezer (well, almost!). All you need to do is add some liquid and protein powder of your choice, blend it up, and enjoy. Getting more protein in your diet has never been so easy.


Your Basket