Protein – The Facts

Protein is everywhere in the body. It’s one of the main substances we are made of. Protein forms skin, muscles, nails, hair, body organs (the heart, liver, kidneys etc.).

Even our bones are made of a protein matrix to which minerals such as calcium are attached. Protein is also needed to mend damaged tissue, make hormones such as insulin, form the enzymes that speed up and control the chemical reactions in our body, and form key parts of our immune systems.

How much protein do I need?

We lose some protein (in the form of amino acids) daily. As the body cannot store protein (as it can fat), we need to eat some protein every day i.e. you can’t eat your protein needs for one week in one day! The basic guide is that we need 1g of protein for every kilogram of body weight. So if you weigh 60kg you need 60g of protein daily, and an 80kg person needs 80g. Ideally every meal should contain a little protein.

Can I eat too much protein?

Yes, it is possible to eat too much protein and this can be detrimental to your health. Excess protein will stress both the kidneys and liver. An excess of protein would be considered to be over 3 times our requirements e.g. for an 80g person, excess protein would be 240g a day. Excessively high protein diets are linked with decreased vitamins, minerals and fibre.

What foods contain protein?

Food Protein-
1 egg (45g) 6g
1 egg white 3.5g
Fish, lean meat, beef, chicken, lamb, pork (100g raw weight) 20g
Cheese (30g)
– Cheddar 8g
– Fetta 5.5g
– Cottage 4.5g
– Ricotta 3g
– Yoghurt (plain) 200g 12g
Tofu (100g) 7g
Legumes cooked – lentils, kidney beans (100g) 7g
Seeds – sunflower, sesame, pumpkin (20g) 4g
Nuts- almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil (20g) 3.5g
Bread 2 slices wholemeal 8g

* Protein Content average (g)

Protein meal suggestions


  • Add yoghurt and a sprinkle of mixed seeds and nuts to cereal
  • Spread hummus onto toast with slices of tomato and cucumber
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Mash tinned sardines onto toast with cracked pepper
  • Spread ricotta onto wholemeal toast and a drizzle of honey
  • Nut breakfast – combination of chopped almonds, walnuts, cashews together with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds and pepitas. (add or subtract any nuts or seeds you particularly like or dislike). Combine with milk or yoghurt

Lunch or Dinner

  • Any meat, chicken, fish with salad or vegetables
  • Tinned tuna or salmon with heaps of salad in a lavish bread wrap
  • Poached, scrambled, boiled, coddled or fried (small amount of olive oil) egg(s) with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms
  • Greek salad with chunks of fetta
  • Falafel roll with hummus, tabbouleh and all the salads
  • Pitta bread filled with avocado, cottage cheese and stacks of salad
  • Stir fried vegetables with tofu, chicken or meat and a sprinkle of cashew nuts
  • Pasta with tomato sauce and a couple of spoonfuls of lentils, or stir some ricotta cheese through
  • Add chickpeas to a bowl of steamed vegies & drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil


  • Handful of nuts and seeds
  • Hummus and vegie sticks (celery, carrot, cucumber, etc.)
  • Fruit and natural yoghurt
  • Slice of wholemeal toast with cottage or ricotta cheese and tomato
  • Ryvita with cottage cheese, cheddar or ricotta and slices of tomato
  • Small can of tuna with salad or cracker