Protein is an important part of every cell in your body. It makes up about 15 percent of your weight. Protein has many jobs, including giving you energy, repairing your bones and muscles, building cells and helping with your immune system.
How much protein you need depends on your sex, age, how much you weigh, how active you are and other things. Men usually need more than women. An average-size man needs about 56 grams of protein a day, while women need 46 grams. If you’re like most Americans, you get what you need, which should be about 10 percent to 35 percent of your calories every day. Your activity level also determines how much you need. Athletes tend to need slightly more than non-athletes to repair and rebuild muscles.
Good sources of protein include almonds, beans, eggs, oats, peanut butter, whole milk and yogurt, but beef and other meats are sure-fire bets. Unfortunately, meat is high in saturated fat, which can lead to elevated cholesterol and heart disease. If you choose red meats, opt for the leanest cuts and be smart about portions. It’s best to limit red meat to 18 ounces a week, and avoid processed meats, like bacon, lunchmeat and sausage.
Some studies show replacing carbs with protein might help with weight loss. This is because high-protein foods move more slowly through your digestive system, helping you feel full fuller longer; they also can help you avoid hunger pangs by keeping your blood sugar levels steady. But don’t rush out and eat a burger every day. We still don’t know the long-term effects of such diets.