The Low Down on Protein

We are delighted to welcome Ashleigh Feltham as a guest blogger each month.

Ashleigh is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and owner of Feed Your Future Dietetics. She holds a Master of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Bachelor of Human Nutrition. Ashleigh is also a qualified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and has been working in the fitness industry for over 15 years. Ashleigh was an elite gymnast as well as an elite rock climber where she represented Australia for four years. She believes everyone deserves to live a life of health and wellness. Ashleigh is passionate about helping people achieve their highest quality of life through nutrition, mental health and exercise. For more information see or follow her on Instagram or Facebook @FeedYourFutureDietetics.

This month Ashleigh discusses protein.

You are not alone if you think you need to have a cupboard full of protein
supplements to get enough protein to achieve results but is this true? Protein is in the group of macronutrients or a major nutrient your body. It is needed to build
and repair all the cells in your body and the amount you need a day may surprise you.
Most people need 70-120% of their body weight in protein in grams to meet their
daily needs, so if you are a woman who weighs 60kg you need 42-72g over a day.
The only time when the amount of protein you need is increased is in earlier
stages of life during times of fast growth in children and adolescence, also during pregnancy, during illness and post-surgery and for athletes competing in power sports such as weightlifting in the early stages of their training regime.
So how much protein can food give your body? Here are some examples of foods and beverages which give you 10g of protein:

2 eggs
 85g firm tofu
 40g of cheddar cheese
 45g white fish
 200g reduced fat yoghurt
 300mL reduced fat soy milk
 200g baked beans
 3 slices of wholemeal bread
 100g muesli
 60g (2 small handfuls) of cashews

An example of what this could look like as meals and snacks over a day:

200g baked beans on 2 slices of wholegrain toast with some low fat cheddar
cheese (30g of protein)

200g of low fat yogurt with half a cup of berries or a small piece of fruit (10g)


2 slices of wholemeal bread with a tin of salmon in spring water (100g) with a cup of salad. (30g)


2 Weetabix topped with 30g 100%n peanut butter and a banana (13g of protein)


½ cup of whole grain pasta with 80g of chicken breast and a cup of stir-fried
vegetables using 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (27g of protein)

Total protein over the day: 119.25g

As you can see if you eat a balanced diet which includes some wholegrains and
lean sources of protein in most meals you can easily reach 70-120% of your
weight in grams of protein in a day. Before you reach for the supplements try
looking at your overall diet and if needed make some tweaks here first. The
benefits whole foods can give your body are far greater than what can be
provided from a supplement, and you will save a lot of money choosing ‘real food’ over supplements as well.

You may think that more protein equals more and quicker results, unfortunately
this is not the case and including regular reasonable quantities of up to around
20-40g of protein in a single meal is a smarter choice. What happens to the
excess? You store as fat. Therefore, taking additional supplements are not needed and, in some cases, can add unnecessary energy to your diet which can make it even harder to achieve the results you desire.

Supplements are not needed for most and food wins hands down above the
nutritional benefits and cost to your wallet. Additional ingredients which have not
been disclosed on the packet have been found in 1 in 4 supplements. This may
lead to you unintentionally providing your body with ingredients or substances
which may make you sick or if you are an athlete can even spike a drug test.

Take home message: By choosing whole foods and beverages over supplements you can, in most cases, easily meet your required protein needs.

Remember whole foods provide your body with far greater health benefits than a
supplement can. If you ever need more assistance to create a diet which meets
your individual needs and gives your body all the protein it requires for results
seek the support of an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. These health professionals can help you succeed in achieving your results for the long term.

Ashleigh -

1. Government A. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand
Australia: Australian Government; 2017 [updated 02-04-2014. Available
2. Stewart R. The Handbook of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics 4th ed.
Australia: Dietitians Association of Australia; 2007. 248 p.163-180.


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