How much protein should you eat per day?

Choosing the right proteins in the right amounts at the right time of day is key when it comes to protein intake, says Dietitian Susie Burrell.

New Australian data has found that six out of seven Australians aren’t getting enough protein in their diets.

Leading nutritionist and dietitian Susie Burrell says research suggests that while we tend to have large serves of protein at night, a number of us are skimping on it during the day.

“We need protein for muscle growth and repair and to keep our skin and hair healthy,” she says. “And it has the added benefit of keeping us feeling fuller for longer after eating.”

She explains this is because protein isn’t the primary fuel for the muscle (unlike carbohydrate), and so is digested more slowly than carbohydrates. Worryingly though, we’re not eating enough of it.

“The data shows while there’s been an increase in consumption of lean meats and alternatives such as fish, eggs and tofu, only one in seven (14 per cent) of people met the recommended daily serves on a regular basis,” Susie says.

For most adults and children over nine years of age, the recommendation is 2.5 lean protein-rich food serves each day, but figures show the national average is 1.7 serves.

“We need to make sure each meal contains around 20-30g of protein using eggs, lean meat, fish or dairy,” Susie cautions. “Spread your protein intake throughout the day and don’t just rely on your evening meal.”

She says for between meal snacks aim for 10-20g and look for things like nuts, yoghurt or cheese, which are also easily transportable if you’re on the move.

“Protein powder can also be a convenient way to boost our protein intake and can be used as a base for smoothies and baking,” she says.

“What a protein powder does is bump up the protein content of these snacks by 3-5g protein per snack, helping to regulate blood glucose levels and keep you fuller for longer after eating.”

Here’s three easy ways to include more protein in your diet

  1. Make sure you have a protein-rich food at each meal and snack. “Remember the mantra of always eat a carbohydrate and a protein rich food together,” Susie says.
  2. Check your hand for portion sizes.
  3. Look for lean proteins and convenient options on the go. “You’re wanting the lean meats, the lean sources of dairy, or a handful of nuts are all great choices,” she says.

Catch up on the full episode of The House of Wellness TV show to see more from Giaan, Ed, and the team.