Are You Getting It Wrong on Protein? Here’s How to Get It Right

Debunking Protein Myths for Better Nutrition

Sub Heading

Protein is an important part of making the most of your meals. Here's what you need to know.

Main Image

A wooden cutting board topped with protein-rich foods including eggs, salmon, meat and chicken.

MAY 29, 2024   4 MINUTE READ

Key Takeaways

• Protein is an essential nutrient needed for nearly every function in the body.
• Your protein needs may increase with age, activity level and illness, and during weight loss.
• Eating high-quality protein at meals and snacks can help make sure you get the recommended amount.

Making sure you have enough protein in your diet is getting a lot of attention these days, with more people recognizing the importance of protein for muscle-building, weight loss and overall health. A 2023 International Food Information Council survey found that just under 20% of those surveyed follow a high-protein diet, while two-thirds of respondents reported trying to include more protein in their daily diet.  

It’s easy to see why. Protein is necessary for nearly every function in your body, from building lean muscle to supporting immune system function, making it a cornerstone of good nutrition.

Protein is especially important to help preserve muscle when you’re trying to lose weight. Research has shown that when you lose weight, a portion of the weight you lose could come from muscle. That means you may need more protein1-4 than the recommended dietary allowance to maintain muscle. That’s why you should talk with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider to understand what you need based on your health and your goals.

Despite protein's importance and popularity, conflicting messages are everywhere. Below are a few common misconceptions so you can learn how to get protein right.

Myth 1: You Can Skimp on Protein at Breakfast if You Eat It at Other Meals

While snoozing overnight, your body works hard to restore and rebuild cells and tissue, which requires protein. Unlike the daytime hours when your body receives protein from food, overnight, you're fasting, so protein is in shorter supply. That makes breakfast a prime opportunity to restock your body with high-quality protein, which will help maintain lean muscle and support your metabolic health.

How to get it right: Opting for nut butters, eggs, tofu, Greek yogurt or other high quality, protein-rich choices can maximize the protein content of your breakfast and set the tone for the day. Consider pairing higher-carb breakfast items like toast or oatmeal with protein-rich foods.

Myth 2: You Don't Need to Spread Protein Intake Throughout the Day

If you include protein-rich foods at only one or two meals during the day, you could be missing out. Trying to get a full day’s worth of protein in one sitting can be a challenge, which means you could fall behind on reaching your goals. Balancing protein intake throughout the day can make it easier to meet your daily protein needs.

How to get it right: Avoid skipping meals and prioritize protein when you eat. Aim for approximately 25-30 grams of protein per meal. If the day gets busy and you need a convenient snack or to supplement a meal on the go, try a protein shake such as PROTALITY™ nutrition shake, which has 30 grams of protein, to work in a quick protein fix.

Myth 3: Your Protein Needs Don’t Change as You Age

It can be hard to understand when and how to increase your protein intake because everyone’s needs are unique. Experts agree that protein needs increase with age. Your body becomes less efficient at using protein as you get older, so you may need more protein than you did when you were younger to help you preserve muscle.

How to get it right: The current recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for adults, which translates to 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight for adults. Some evidence suggests that older individuals could benefit from consuming closer to 1.2 to 1.5 grams per kilogram to support muscle health. Schedule a talk with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to determine what’s best for you.

Myth 4: Only Athletes Need Extra Protein

Just as age impacts protein needs, so does activity level. Research has shown athletes may need more protein. But anyone who works out regularly or wants to support healthy body composition can benefit from getting adequate protein to help rebuild and maintain muscle.

How to get it right: In addition to prioritizing protein at meals, powering up with a protein-rich snack before or after exercising can help you meet your goals.

Myth 5: All Protein Is Created Equal

Protein is found in many different foods, but the quality of the protein can vary. Proteins are made of building blocks called amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids, nine are considered essential because the body can't make them, so they must come from food. Complete proteins have all the essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins lack one or more. Animal foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy are complete proteins, while most plant-based proteins, except for a few exceptions like soy, are incomplete and need to be combined with other protein sources throughout the day.

How to get it right: Be sure to include at least one source of high-quality complete protein in every meal. If you’re not meeting your protein goals, grab a PROTALITY™ nutrition shake, which contains 30g high-quality protein including 9 amino acids to support muscle health. Nutrition shakes are a great option if you need help getting more protein and nutrients as you navigate a busy schedule.

With a little protein know-how – and advice from your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian – you can develop a plan to make sure your diet is protein-powered and supports your overall health goals.

1. Kim JE et al. Nutr Rev 2016;74:210-224 
2. Soenen S et al. J Nutr 2013;143:591-596. 
3. Layman DK et al. J Nutr 2003;133:411-417. 
4. Leidy HJ et al. Obesity 2007;15:421-429. 

Healthy Foods to Eat Every Day: 365 Days of Nutrition

Main Image

A person holds out a bowl filled with vegetables and legumes.


Healthy Foods to Eat Every Day: 365 Days of Nutrition


Key Takeaways

• It's important to eat a well-rounded diet that consists of a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
• Small, incremental changes can make a big difference to your health over time.
• Turning your short-term goals into a long-term lifestyle takes time.

Reference Page Path

What Are Protein-Rich Foods? 8 Protein-Inspired Meal and Snack Ideas

Main Image

A skillet with protein-rich eggs in tomato sauce.


Key Takeaways

• Protein helps maintain muscle and support weight loss maintenance.
• Aim for about 25-30 grams of protein per meal.
• Choose protein-rich foods for meals and snacks to help meet your daily protein needs.

Reference Page Path