Are You Getting In Enough Protein?

By Dana Yarn, RDLD

We have become a very “protein aware” society, it seems like every diet book and blog emphasizes the importance of getting adequate protein.  It is hard to believe that some of us still do not consume enough.  When I review a new client’s food recall almost half of the time there is still a lack of protein when the daily total grams are added up.  Lack of protein is especially common amongst women.  When women are trying to lose weight or lean out they tend to start cutting calories and since most women tend to enjoy eating carbohydrates more the daily protein is the nutrient group that is sacrificed over carbohydrates.

Here are some common signs and symptoms that you may not be getting enough protein. 

You are hungry and craving sweet and starchy foods.  It is common among dieters to eat low calorie cereal, bread or plain oatmeal in the morning, sure they may feel full for a short period of time but within an hour or two they feel like they never ate.  If that person were to have incorporated an egg or protein powder to their morning meal they would feel fuller and have less cravings.  Protein helps regulate our insulin hormones, preventing highs and lows allowing the body to metabolize fat and have steady energy levels.  It’s not about the daily calories it’s about the chemistry.

You find it difficult to concentrate. If you feel like you cannot get your thoughts together or mentally “foggy” you may be lacking protein.  Protein contains essential amino acids that help fuel our muscles.  Being deficient in amino acids can eventually cause muscle wasting and malnourishment resulting in a hindered ability to concentrate and focus.

If you get sick all of the time.  Our immune system thrives off of being nourished properly with adequate carbohydrates, fats, proteins, hydration and vitamins and minerals.  If one of these maco or micro nutrients is lacking then your immune system will not be as strong as it should be and more susceptible to getting sick when exposed to bacteria and viruses.  Those who eat a diet rich in all nutrients tend to get sick less often because they have built an immune system that is able to fight off sickness when exposed to certain bacteria and viruses.

How much protein should you eat daily? 

Protein can also be over consumed this is typically common in men, they double or even triple their protein scoops in shakes or have 10-12 ounces of meat in one sitting.  The body is typically only able to metabolize and absorb in one sitting 30-40 grams for women and 40-50 grams for men.  If you consuming more than that it is your kidney’s responsibility to filter out the excess, which can strain them over time.

Aim to consume .8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of your GOAL body weight.  If you are 250 pounds but would like to get below 200 pounds do your calculations per the goal weight.  The higher side of the recommendations are for those exercise intensely often (ie. Runners, cyclist, weight lifters, body builders, etc.).

Grilled Greek Chicken

Flavorful grilled chicken that can be enjoyed with rice and veggies or over a bed of fresh greens.

Difficulty: Easy
Total Number of Servings: 8
Serving Size: approximately 1 chicken breast

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Marinade Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. Greek seasoning
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. dried oregano
black pepper to taste

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Preheat grill to medium high. Put chicken on the grill and cook about 8 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook about 4-8 minutes on the other side, until chicken feels firm.

Chicken Asparagus Bake

Protein and veggies, ready in a flash.

Difficulty: Easy
Total Number of Servings: 8
Serving Size: approximately 1 cup


2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into cubes
1 lb red potatoes, chopped into cubes
1 cup chopped Roma tomatoes
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400°F and spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Add chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, basil, garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary. Add pepper if desired. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally until tender.

Watermelon Pizza

Here’s a fun way for kids to enjoy fruit. Don’t forget to let them help with assembly!


seedless watermelon
1 cup strawberries, sliced
½ cup blueberries
2 bananas, sliced


Slice watermelon into round, circle slices. Slice each watermelon round into 4 triangular slices. Top the watermelon triangles with a few of the sliced strawberries, sliced banana, and blueberries. Any of your favorite fruits can be added as “pizza toppings”. Enjoy!

Baked Rhubarb Oatmeal

Enjoy for a warm, filling breakfast or as a dessert.

Difficulty: Easy
Total Number of Servings: 4
Serving Size: approximately 1 cup


1 cup rhubarb, chopped
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch salt
2 cups almond milk
olive oil


Preheat oven to 350°F and coat a medium-sized oven dish lightly with olive oil. Cover the bottom of the dish with rhubarb pieces. Combine the oats, almond, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Pour the mixture on top of the rhubarb and pour the almond milk on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.