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Your Checklist: Protein in Food

by Berkeley Wellness  

How much protein do you eat? Probably more than you think. Meat, fish, and chicken have 6 to 9 grams per ounce. Milk has 8 grams per cup; plain yogurt 8 to 17 grams in 6 ounces; and an egg, 6 grams. Cooked beans have about 8 grams per half cup; nuts, 5 grams per ounce. A slice of bread supplies 3 grams. Grain products, often overlooked as protein sources, supply nearly one-fifth of total U.S. protein intake because we eat so much of them. Even vegetables contain small amounts of protein (a cup of broccoli has 2 grams).

It isn’t hard to have a moderately high protein intake, as the chart below suggests. If you weigh 175 pounds, to meet the RDA you need 64 grams of protein a day; to achieve the higher intakes recommended by some experts, about 80 to 96 grams a day. Four ounces of poultry, an egg, 6 ounces of Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup of beans, and a cup of cooked pasta supply about 75 grams of protein. Add in the small amounts of protein in the other foods you eat and you probably get 90 grams or more of protein a day.

Foods and beverages Protein (grams)*
Chicken or turkey breast, 4 oz cooked 35
Beef or pork, 4 oz cooked 32
Salmon, 4 oz cooked 30
Tuna, light, canned, in water, 4 oz 29
Sardines, canned, drained, 4 oz 26
Shrimp, flounder, or cod, 4 oz cooked 25
Yogurt, Greek, plain, 6 oz 17
Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup 14
Veggie or soy burger, 3 oz 14
Tofu, 4 oz 12
Soybeans, green, 1⁄2 cup cooked 11
Caffè latte, nonfat, 12 oz 10
Deli ham, 2 oz 10
Yogurt, regular, plain, 6 oz 8
Milk, cow’s or soy, 1 cup 8
Lima or navy beans, 1/2 cup cooked 8
Pasta, 2 oz dry 7
Egg, 1 extra large 7
Hard cheese, 1 oz 7
Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp 7
Nuts, mixed, 1 oz 5
Hummus, 2 oz 4
Quinoa, 1/2 cup cooked 4
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 4
Ice cream, 1/2 cup 3
Bread, wheat, 1 slice, 1 oz 3
Breakfast cereal, wheat, 1 oz 3
Cream cheese, 1 oz 2

*Average values, from USDA.