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How Much Protein
Do I Really Need??

Dear Gina,

So, because of a stressful, super busy job, my eating schedule is horrible. I've been looking at protein shakes but I'm so confused at the MANY choices. If I'm looking to lose a few pounds, should I go for super HIGH protein? What's enough?? And some of them have sooo much sugar?? Any favorites or recommendations??


Hi Shannon! You are correct—there are so many choices out there it's mind-boggling.

In terms of protein, you need to consider your total day of supplements, meals and snacks before deciding how much protein should be included in your protein bars and shakes.

To find out how many grams you should have in a day in order to lose or maintain weight, take your total body weight in pounds. Multiply that by 0.75 to find your total grams of protein per day.

As an example, I am 130 lbs. and if I multiply that by 0.75 I get 97 grams.

*If I have oatmeal with milk for breakfast, that is about 15 grams. *If I have a salad with chicken for lunch, that is about 30 grams. *If I have pasta for dinner, that is about 20 grams.

So I am at 30 65 grams for the day. This means I need to make up 30 more grams in my other intake.

The key to finding the best protein supplement is looking at ‘percentage’ of protein. Don’t think of it as ‘high’ protein or ‘low’ protein—the name of the game is to make sure your bar or shake has  a lot of protein compared to the calories it contains. 

Quest bars are a favorite of mine—they contain under 200 calories and 20 grams of protein. Most protein bars contain either more calories, or less protein, which means there are ‘extra’ carbs and fats that are not giving you much if your goal is to lose or maintain weight.

Another brand I like is Julian Bakery’s Paleo Protein Bars (if you are dairy free). They have about the same numbers nutritionally. These bars are also both high in fiber—an added bonus.

For shakes, I like Whey Pumped Vanilla flavor. It has 90 calories and 18 grams of protein. Of course , it is not as portable as a bar.

I also like Veggie Elite Protein by MRM. IT has 130 calories and 24 grams of protein (a dairy free option). I mention dairy free because a lot of people have trouble digesting it or they avoid it due to inflammation issues.

Many people make the mistake of adding a protein bar or shake on top of their meals, and if they are already getting enough protein from the meals, the extra calories aren’t terribly useful unless the goal Is to gain weight. However, if you are missing meals or you need a snack, a bar or shake can go a log way to make sure your protein intake is where it should be.

You are very smart to focus on protein—it is the most essential of all the nutrients, especially on a weight loss plan. Protein is broken down in the body every day, and the only way to replenish it is to consume it. And, consuming protein boosts the metabolism, so it will actually help with weight loss—although don’t forget that calories do  count!

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