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Should You Pump the Brakes on Protein Intake?

If you’ve browsed the aisles of any grocery store or picked up a health magazine, you know that protein is currently “on-trend.” From bars to powders, protein-laden products are everywhere. But when it comes to this popular nutrient, it may be time to rethink your intake.

How Much Is Best?

Although protein recommendations are based on age, gender, and activity level, general guidelines suggest that most women need about 46 grams of protein per day and most men need 56 grams. Not sure how much you’re consuming? Most likely, you’re getting waaay more than that.

It’s not hard to do. Just one small (3 ounce) hamburger has 21 grams of protein. A cup of cooked beans such as pinto, black beans, or lentils has around 16 grams.

Watch for Excess

Although protein offers a host of health benefits such as maintaining and building body tissue, too much may not be a good thing. Because we often choose fatty animal proteins (fried chicken wings or pork ribs, anyone?), it can even lead to weight gain and other health problems like diabetes and cancer.

Quality Over Quantity

Instead of trying to work more protein into your diet, focus on improving the quality of your protein. Boost your intake of fish and low-fat dairy. Don’t forget to incorporate plant-based proteins. And when choosing meat, skip the processed stuff and opt for fresh, leaner cuts. Quality sources include:

  • Wild salmon

  • Low-fat Greek yogurt

  • Black or pinto beans

  • Eggs

  • Unsalted nuts, like cashews or almonds

  • Sirloin or ground beef that is at least 92 percent lean 

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