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Why is Protein Important and How Much Do I Need?

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Why is Protein Important and How Much Do I Need?

Are you getting enough protein in your diet? It’s common to watch your calories, sugar and salt intake, but it is equally as important to make sure you are eating enough protein. Protein is an essential nutrient to make the building blocks of the body including muscle, bone, and blood. It does so by first being broken down into amino acids that are used to build muscle, leftover protein is used to fuel your energy needs.[1]

So, how much protein do you need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements.[2] To determine how much protein you should intake each day, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36.[2]  For example, if you weigh 170 pounds the amount of protein you should be including in your daily diet is 61.2g (170 x 0.36 = 61.2).

Where can you get your protein?

The most obvious answer is meat. For example, 3.5 ounces of roasted chicken breast has 31 grams of protein. For pescatarians, 3.5 ounces of pink salmon contains about 20 grams of protein.

High-Quality Protein Options

  • Fish (salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, black cod, and herring)
  • Poultry (chicken and turkey)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Tofu and soy products

Additional options for vegetarians and vegans

There are multiple plant-based protein sources. All of the below options can help vegans and vegetarians reach their recommended protein intake.

Food Serving Protein (grams)
Tofu ½ cup 10
Tempeh 1 cup 31
Black Beans ½ cup 8
Lentils ½ cup 9
Chickpeas ½ cup 7
Chia Seeds 1 ounce 4.7
Quinoa 1 cup 8
Nuts ½ cup 13.5
Plant-based protein powder 1 scoop 20

How AFSPA Can Help

AFSPA is here to assist in managing your diet and ensuring you get enough protein. Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) members can try our Mediterranean Wellness Program, an 8-week interactive program that includes a registered dietician to help manage your individualized plan.

In addition, FSBP offers its members generous dietary and nutrition counseling benefit coverage. It includes individual and group behavioral counseling, up to 26 visits combined per calendar year, no deductible. You pay nothing for this benefit if you visit an in-network provider (if you are living in the 50 U.S.). Overseas members also pay nothing when visiting any provider outside the 50 U.S. (not including Guam). To learn more about FSBP’s other wellness program offerings, click here.



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