Protein is available in many foods. The NZ Nutrition Foundation breaks these down into animal sources and plant sources, as below:
- Animal sources: meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy
- Plant sources: soy, grains, nuts and pulses (beans, peas, lentils)
All of the animal sources, as well as soy and quinoa, contain all of the essential amino acids that our body requires. When our body has adequate supplies of the essential amino acids, it is able to make the non-essential amino acids it requires, as described in our article on the difference between essential and non-essential amino acids.
All of the other plant sources of protein lack one or more of the essential amino acids, so it is important for people who do not eat any animal products to ensure that they eat a variety of plant sources every day to ensure that they obtain all of the essential amino acids.
Alternatively, if you are just looking to avoid meat, then whey protein powder is a great way to obtain your daily protein intake, as it contains all of the essential amino acids.
The table below is compiled from information from the NZ Nutrition Foundation and shows the protein content of a range of foods:
|Food Type||Protein (%)||Protein (g)|
|Whey protein isolate (30g)||93%||28|
|Whey protein powder (30g)||80%||24|
|1 chicken breast (107g)||31%||33|
|1 lean beef fillet steak (135g)||28%||38|
|1 can tuna in spring water (100g)||25%||25|
|Edam cheese (2cm cube, 8g)||25%||2|
|1 Hoki fillet (122g)||22%||27|
|10 almonds (12g)||21%||2.5|
|1 egg (50g)||12%||6|
|1 slice of whole grain bread (45g)||11%||5|
|1 pottle of low fat yoghurt (150g)||5%||7|
|1 cup trim milk (250ml)||4%||10|
The following examples show how daily protein requirements can be met:
- An 18 year old girl can meet her required 45g by eating grilled chicken breast, 2 slices of wholemeal bread and a pottle of yoghurt.
- A 30 year old vegetarian woman can meet her required 46g by eating a smoothie containing whey protein powder, almonds and milk, and a poached egg on whole grain toast.
- A 50 year old man can meet his required 64g by eating baked beans on two slices of multigrain toast, and a grilled steak.