Calculating Your Daily Protein Needs With Specific High-Quality Food Choices


There is a general tendency for us to add and eat more protein without assessing and cutting back on other calories in our meals. As you add more protein, you’ll have to adjust and take out the extra calories from foods like chips and high fat food being replaced with lean high quality protein sources.

Our diet should have adequate complex carbohydrates that are slow burning and you really don’t need to eat as much protein. The reason being, the body won’t need to rob protein from muscles and organ tissue for protein to use as fuel because the dietary protein will be available for other purposes.

Wondering how much protein you’ll need?

There are controversies surrounding this that I won’t discuss here. But the long and short of it is the determination of your optimal daily protein intake based on your ideal healthy weight. You can discuss your ideal weight with your physician, or with a dietitian/nutritionist. An important factor to know, is that as you lose fat and build muscle tone, you will look trimmer and thinner but the number on your scale may not. Take this to heart and know that muscle is heavier than fat and muscles are what you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Learn how to calculate your daily calories and protein needs based on your activity level and ideal body weight. Use the chart below to calculate. Record your weight based on your activity level and multiply by the number factor given for woman, and man.

Approximate                           Multiply                                  Daily

Activity Levels                       Ideal Weight                           Factor                        Calorie Limit


Sedentary Woman                ————– 1bs.                         12                              ———-


Sedentary Man                     —————lbs.                          14                            ———–


Moderately Active

Woman                                    ———— lbs.                           15                         ———–


Moderately Active

Man                                         ———— lbs.                           17                         ———–


Very Active Woman               ————-lbs.                          18                         ———-


Very Active man                     ———–  lbs.                           20                         ————

Calculate Your Protein Needs

First calculate your daily calories using your weight and activity level given in the above Chart (sedentary, moderately active and very active- woman, man.)  Then use your respective calories and multiply by:

  • 0.25 for very inactive
  • 0.30 for relatively active
  • 0.35 for very active

Now, to find your Specific Protein needs:

Multiply your total daily calories by the activity level to determine your specific needs. Take this number and divide by 4 to get the amount of proteins expressed in grams. 4 calories make 1 gram of protein. This total will give you the amount of protein for the day.

Example:  Caloric intake for a sedentary 160 lbs. female = Multiply 160 by 12 = 1920k/d

Calories For protein:  Multiply 1920 X 0.25   (inactive)  = 480 K

Grams of Protein needed:Divide 480 by 4 (number of calories/to grams)  = 120 grams

This example shows that a sedentary woman weighing 160 pounds needs

1920 caloriesper day and 120 grams of protein.

Take note that the daily calories do not take into account adjustmentfor weight loss.

Foods Providing the Best Quality Proteins

Aim for high quality and variety now that you know how many grams of protein you are allowed. The next step is to choose lean protein sources that are healthier.


Sources of lean protein are wild salmon and other seafoods. For example, wild salmon is high in protein and contains omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These fats are termed good fats, and are essential to energy production and fat loss.

Other choices of high quality fish are Alaskan halibut, tuna, trout, sea bass, farm raised tilapia, mahi mahi, herring sardines, crabs, oysters, clams, farm raised mussels and scallops. The good things about the oil from these species contribute to the hormone leptin, which reduces the size of fat cells, and enhance fat loss. For these reasons many experts recommend eating fish two to four times per week.


Lean animal protein choices are hard to find because fat is marbled in the meat. Although pork is considered the next white meat, it has saturated fat like red meat. Saturated fat is not good for you because it clogs arteries.

Chicken and turkey are better alternatives for lean protein when you remove the skin. The saturated fat is reduced in skinless portions of chicken and turkey. Check out this example of a typical 3-ounce serving of skinless turkey breast thatsupplies 0.2 gram of saturated fat. While the same size serving of ham contains 5.5 grams of saturated fat. Flank steak in a 3-ounce serving has nearly 5 grams of saturated fat. It makes a huge difference in your food choices. When buying chicken and turkey look for organic products to avoid hormones and additive contaminants.

What is the Story on Eggs?

Egg is considered the perfect food. It is making a comeback because the protein is of high quality. It got a bad rap in the past but people are taking a second look and putting it back as a staple into their diet. Eggs do not contain saturated fat. While shopping look around for organic types. These have added value of omga-3 fatty acids.

Dairy Products

Dairy products are good choices of protein. But also you get the benefits of dairy by choosing fat free and low fat types as part of a balanced low fat diet. There is increasing evidence that people who consume low-fat, fat-free dairy are less likely to be overweight. Another factor beyond their protein content, dairy products are the best dietary sources of calcium. It’s shown that calcium, the mineral, triggers the production of hormones that elevate metabolism and prevents fat storage.

A study from the University of Tennessee showed that men who added three servings of yogurt daily to their diets lost 61 percent more body fat and 81 percent more abdominal fat over the course of 12 weeks than men who didn’t eat yogurt. It is apparent that calcium seems to be the influence.Choose plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit for sweetness to avoid the fattening natural and artificial sweeteners in flavored yogurt.

While you are at the dairy aisle, walk down further to select some cottage cheese. Researchers in Denmark reported that people who replaced 20 percent of their carbohydrate calories with high protein food such as cottage cheese experienced measurable increases in energy. The effect lasted for the whole day. In addition the cottage cheese eaters also burned 5 percent more calories.

In making the case for low fat cheese, these are acceptable but should be eaten in limited quantities. Be cautious with cheese dips and spreads as well as small packages of convenient sliced cheese and crackers. Eating too much of these finger foods can pack on the calories. A healthier and better alternative is to choose reduced fatmozzarella sticks. They go anywhere and they taste quite good.

Soy Beans: the Perfect Plant Protein

Soy contains complete sources of protein and is an exception to few plants. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting phyto-nutrients and soluble fiber.In my family we love edammame. Soy nuts are popular snacks. Each ¼ serving supplies 15 grams of protein. One ½ cup of tofu contains 18to 20 grams of protein. You can also try soymilk and tempeh.

Nuts: Celebrate Their Goodness

Yes some nuts are high in fat. Most contain unsaturated fats that help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol while also raising good HDL cholesterol. The evidence is in. Several long-term large-scale studies show that people who eat nuts at least twice a week as part of a balanced diet are at 30 to 50 percent lower risk for heart attack and heart disease.

Noteworthy and specifically almonds appear to aid weight loss according to a study from Purdue University. The way this works is unclear, but researchers feel that the protein in nuts

might help to burn more calories during the digestive process. Nuts also produce satiety or a feeling of fullness so you eat less.

The key to eating nuts is portion control. You can’t eat them one handful after another. Measure 1 ounce about 12–18 nuts and choose low sodium or raw nuts. As long as you keep the serving size under control you’ll be fine.

An ounce of peanuts, pistachios, almonds, or walnuts supplies 8 grams of protein – the equivalent of the protein in a glass of milk. Other healthful choices include Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and pine nuts. You can add these seedsto your list as well: pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

Beans, Beans, Beans – What about them?

Beans are the most versatile of the protein sources. They can be used in so many ways as stand alone or paired with grains, and vegetables to name a few.  However beans are not complete protein but they do supply essential amino acids. One of the amino acids lysine supports the synthesis of Carnitine that is used by the cells to generate energy.

Beans are also rich in soluble fiber that help balance blood sugar. The fiber content in beans helps to prevent insulin resistance that can lead to fat gain.Aim for three or four ½ cup servings per week of beans and other legumes. Some of the popular varieties are black, pinto, navy, lima, great northern, chick peas (garbanzo) and lentils.


As you can see we have control over what we eat, how much we eat, the quality and types of food we choose. Let us all choose the highest quality of nutrient dense foods that are whole minimally processed, fat-free, or low fat, sodium free, or low sodium and prepare our foods to nourish and nurture our bodies. Choose your food wisely and add variety to get the benefits and remember to add protein throughout the day with your meals and snacks. To your health and wellness!

Did you find this information useful? Please pass it along to others. 

Leave A Response


* Denotes Required Field