Principles Of Protein

PEScience Select Protein 2lbs Peanut Butter Cookie

Let’s talk about the principles of protein! Did you know that the average American diet for a sedentary adult contains over twice the amount of protein recommended by the RDA? How much protein are you taking in each day versus what is required for your body’s energy output? What are the principles of protein? What are good sources of protein? This article describes what protein is, what it does and how the body uses it.

The Principles Of Protein are: 

  1. Critical to the structure and function of the body
  2. Help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance
  3. Aid in energy production before and after exercise
  4. Available in many forms such as whey, red meat, plant, poultry and soy
  5. Act as a buffer to maintain the body’s pH
  6. Make up a large part of the body’s organs, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone
  7. Involved with hormones related to metabolism (insulin, glucagon, epinephrine)
  8. Builds and repairs muscles
  9. Transport of micronutrients, minerals, and oxygen from the lungs to the muscles
  10. Consists of amino acids, 20 of which are recognized in our diets

Amino Acids:

Each amino acid contains at least one nitrogen group. When proteins are broken down, the amino acids are used for energy in the form of CO2 and water. The nitrogen group leaves the body through urine. Eleven of these amino acids are considered nonessential. This means our bodies make them using other amino acids that we consume. The remaining nine, however, cannot be made by the body. These are known as essential amino acids. We must rely on foods and supplements to obtain them. Protein rich foods contain all of the essential and nonessential amino acids. Amino acids help build and repair tissues after exercise. They are converted directly into muscles for energy. They also help prevent hypoglycemia.

Principles Of Protein: How Much?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein for non-vegetarian adults 18-70 is 52-56g per day. This translates to .8g per kilogram (or 2.2 lbs.) of bodyweight. These numbers do not account for anything other than age. The current recommended daily protein intake for bodybuilders and strength athletes is 2.2 to 2.5g per kilogram of bodyweight. This translates to approximately 1g per lb. of bodyweight. In simpler terms, a 200lb man should consume 200g of protein per day.

Calculate Your Daily Protein Requirements:

Your weight in pounds ÷ 2.2 = your weight in kilograms. Multiply this amount by 2.2 grams.

For example: Bill, a bodybuilder, weighs 220lbs.

220lbs ÷ 2.2 = 100kg

100kg x 2.2g = 220g/protein/d.

Principles Of Protein – A Sample Menu

This may seem like a lot of protein. Yet it’s been the bodybuilding standard for decades. Also, it’s easy to attain. The following is an example of foods Bill could eat to meet his protein requirements:

First thing after waking up: 8-10oz. water & 20g protein powder

Coffee as desired

Breakfast: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with flavoring such as cinnamon, 10g protein powder,  2 slices of whole wheat toast with sugar-free jelly, coffee or water: 35g protein

Pre-lunch snack: Protein bar (such as a One bar), water: 20g protein

Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with 1 slice swiss cheese, ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese, 1 banana, 8-12oz water: 48g/protein

Pre-dinner snack: Protein shake, or 3 cheese sticks: 20-24g protein

Dinner: 6oz. broiled skinless chicken breast, 1c steamed broccoli, salad with 6oz. fresh spinach and 1oz. almonds (dressing), 8oz. water: 59g/protein

Post-dinner snack: Protein shake or bar, homemade protein cookies with zero sugar: 20g

Total protein intake: 226g/protein

Principles Of Protein: Can You Consume Too Much Protein?

Yes, if you’re doubling or tripling the suggested amount. Many bodybuilders subscribe to the “more is better” thinking. “If 200g per day is good, 400g per say is better”. Not so.

Instead, think in terms of protein quality and timing. Choose low fat sources. If you’re choosing Greek yogurt, choose plain and flavor it yourself, without adding sugar. In addition, there are a variety of protein shakes, bars, and powders. You can use these to help you reach your daily requirements. This is especially true if you lead a busy lifestyle and can’t sit down to the suggested meals. Always note the calorie, carb, sugar, sodium and fat content of any foods or supplements. You should also eat whole food first and foremost, as your lifestyle permits.

Principles Of Protein: Increasing Protein Intake

What if you need to increase their protein consumption? First, calculate the amount of protein your body requires for your body weight. Next, increase your water intake to prevent dehydration. Eat a well balanced diet consisting of whole foods low in sugar and sodium.

It’s been said you don’t need protein powders or bars to eat enough protein. Obviously that person has never been in a situation where a meal break just doesn’t happen. Or, it may not happen according to your preferred meal schedule. It’s easy to be in a situation where the only protein you have time for is a shake or bar. Worry less about whether it’s food or a shake or bar. Worry more about maintaining a sufficient protein intake.

Principles of Protein – High Protein Foods:

Food Serving size Protein (g)
Ground beef 3.5oz 24.3
Top sirloin 3.5oz 27.4
Skinless chicken breast 3.0oz 25.3
Roasted turkey breast 3.5oz 19.9
Salmon, baked 3.5oz 25.5
Tuna, water packed 3.5oz 29.4
Skim milk 8oz 8
Cottage cheese 1c 31
Peanut butter 2 tbsp 8.2
Almonds 1oz 6
Oatmeal 1c 6.1
Cheerios 1 ¼c 4.3
Whole wheat bread 1 slice 1.2
Triscuit crackers 3 crackers 1.1
Banana Medium 1.2
Orange Medium 1.3
Asparagus 6 spears 2.3
Broccoli 1/2c 1.3

As you can see, undertsanding the principles of protein is yoiur key to success!



Manore, M & Thompson, J. (2000). Sport Nutrition for Health and Performance.Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Wardlaw, G.(1999). Perspectives in Nutrition. (4th Edition). McGraw-Hill.

Mahan, LK & Escott-Stump, S.(1996). Krause’s Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy. (9th Edition). W.B.Saunders Co.

By: Christine M. Jenior PT, MSPT, ATC


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