Serving of Protein

Deck of Cards serving size

Visualize a Serving of Protein

If you have misplaced your food scale, the usual guideline for visualizing meat servings is that the portion should be the size of a standard deck of playing cards. (Just imagine how many servings are represented by that platter-sized prime rib served at your favorite restaurant!)

For non-meat protein sources, a serving, which is 1 large egg, ½ cup cooked beans or rice, or 2 Tablespoons of seeds, nuts or peanut butter, is equivalent to only about 1/3 of the protein in a serving of meat. Tofu can also be included in this group with a serving size of about 4oz.

In addition, most health experts recommend that, whenever possible, choose a leaner or low-fat version of the significant protein sources, and to remove all visible fat from your meat.

Serving of Protein

Many health experts recommend that you get about 30% of your calories each day from healthy protein sources. Protein has about 4 calories per gram, so if you consume 2400 calories a day, about 720 of them should be from protein.

2400 calories x 30% = 720 calories

USDA approach

Yet another way of putting it is in reference to the Food Pyramid, which is a way to visualize the amount of food you should eat from each of the five food groups, each day. By this method, depending on your weight, you need two to three 3-ounce servings of meat, fish, poultry or meat analog each day. (A meat analog is a soy or grain based product that is manufactured to look and taste like certain meat products.)

It may interest you to note that the USDA has changed their visual representation for eating healthy from a pyramid to a simpler model called "MyPlate." This concept shows a dinner plate divided into four portions for Protein, Vegetables, Fruits and Grains, with a side of Dairy.

It's usually found in the main course

When we talk about protein in our diets, we are mostly talking about meat, eggs and dairy products. Another way of saying this is, generally, most of the protein in our meals comes from the main course.

Steak… Hamburger… Roast Beef… Pork chops… Ham… Bacon… Sausage… Hot dogs… Lamb chops… Chicken… Turkey… Duck… Capon… Fish… Shrimp… Lobster… Crab… Scallops… Venison… Omelets… Egg Salad…

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt are also good sources of healthy eating protein.

In addition, there are some plant foods that are significant sources of healthy eating protein. These are the legumes, grains, some vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Lentils… Split peas… Kidney beans… Pinto beans… Black beans… Soybeans… Garbanzo beans… Navy beans… Peanuts… Peanut Butter… Rice… Wheat…. Barley… Oats… Peas… Kale… Okra… Walnuts… Brazil Nuts… Almonds… Pumpkin Seeds… Sesame Seeds….

Many of the foods you eat have some protein in them, but those foods listed above, are a significant source that will make it easier for you to fulfill your daily healthy eating protein requirements.

Fun Fact for Serving of Protein: Your body actually reuses the protein from the cells of your gastrointestinal lining when they are sloughed off (about every three days) and replaced with news ones. This allows you to have protein available from another source besides the food you eat. What an amazing creation we are!

Click here to go from Serving of Protein page to Nutrition page.

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