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Have you heard a lot about protein lately? The topic of protein is everywhere—in your social media feed, in your favorite magazines and on television talk shows. The word is out—protein power is here. Is it hype, or is there something to all this protein praise?

As a matter of fact, there is. Nutrition experts agree that protein is essential for good health. Most people know that protein gives us the energy to get through the day. But protein also forms the major structural components of all cells in the body. Getting the right amount of protein in your diet each day provides the building blocks for muscle, bones, blood and skin. Protein is also important for the proper functioning of immune cells, as well as the transportation of nutrients throughout the body.1

Protein Building Blocks

Convinced? Great—but make sure to avoid the protein myths that can prevent you from getting the protein that your body needs every single day. Here are four protein myths you should know about:

Protein Myth #1: It’s just fine to get most of my protein at dinner.

This is the number one protein myth. If you are like many Americans, you probably eat most of your protein—whether it’s a slab of steak or a tofu casserole—with your evening meal. The problem? There’s a limit to how much protein your body can process at one time. According to Karen Lundgren, Head of Medical Affairs, US Consumer Care Business for Nestlé Health Science and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), “It's best to spread protein intake evenly across each main meal throughout the day to optimize and preserve your muscle.”

Was your lunchtime salad a little light on protein? 

Protein Myth #2: I already filled my weekly protein needs.

Welcome to protein myth number two! After that big holiday meal, you may feel that way, but not so. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, protein is not stored in our body. Instead, it is continuously being broken down and needs to be replaced regularly. That’s why we need to include protein in our diets every single day.

Include protein in your diet every single day.

Protein Myth #3: I need less protein as I age.

Another protein myth. While children and teens certainly need protein to fuel their growth—the recommended amount varies by age, activity level and health status. International expert groups now recommend higher protein intake to support healthy living for older adults. In fact, healthy people 65 years and older should consume about ½ gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.2,3

Protein requirements increase as you age.

Protein Myth #4: All protein is created equal.

Not so. “Protein sources are not equal in their ability to stimulate the building of muscle or prevent muscle breakdown,” says Lundgren. Protein is made up of amino acids, including nine essential ones, such as leucine, which plays an important role in building muscle. Essential amino acids come from a diet that includes high-quality or complete proteins.1 “High-quality protein is generally found in animal sources like eggs, fish, chicken, pork, beef and dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese; and also found in some plant sources like soy and quinoa,” says Lundgren. Experts recommend consuming a variety of protein sources to meet daily needs.

High-quality protein foods like these contain essential amino acids.

Discover your protein number

So now that you know how important protein is to your health, you may be wondering how much you need on a daily basis. Click Here to use the BOOST® Protein Calculator to determine your estimated daily protein needs.

How much protein is the right amount for you?

References:

  1. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2002/2005. https://www.nap.edu/read/10490/chapter/1
  2. Bauer J, et al. JAMDA. 2013;14:542-59.
  3. Deutz NEP, et al. Clinical Nutrition. 2014; 33:929-936.