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Does protein matter? Sure. But most of us are getting enough, if not more than our bodies need. Sustained high protein consumption can be harmful to our long-term health, research suggests.

Instead of adding more protein, replace some of your meat and dairy protein servings with plant-based sources, like beans, nuts and seeds, quinoa, tempeh, tofu, edamame, and nutritional yeast (high-flavor flakes or powder). Spread your protein consumption throughout the day: Your body can’t process a lot at one time.

We asked you to pick your top protein snacks; 1,500 students answered. Then we pondered the pros and cons.

CLIF and LUNA Bars

  • Favored by all of us who couldn’t get it together this morning
  • Nutri perks around 10g protein; high fiber; somewhat organic
  • BUT? The first ingredient is sugar (brown rice sugar)
  • Easy eating  Whip it out to avoid getting hangry (so hungry you’re angry)
  • Cost $1–$2 each
  • TRIVIA Stanley Mason of Connecticut invented the granola bar, plus squeezy ketchup bottles and foaming toothpaste

Nuts

  • Favored by Posh Spice, Tom Brady, squirrels
  • Why go nuts?  May protect against heart disease, gallstones, and diabetes
  • Nutri perks High in protein, fiber, minerals,
    and unsaturated fat
  • BUT? Allergy risk; high fat content
  • Keep it healthier A serving is a small handful (20–25 nuts) or 2 Tbsp nut butter
  • Cost Expensive: macadamia and pecans. Affordable: peanuts

Greek yogurt

  • Favored by John Stamos, Kelly Ripa, Venus Williams, and everyone else
  • Why milk it?  A multipurpose food that keeps you full
  • Nutri perks  Protein, live and active cultures, and probiotics for a happy gut
  • BUT? Flavored yogurts are high in added sugars
  • Keep it healthier Choose plain nonfat yogurt; jazz it up with fruit, almond slivers, and seeds
  • Cost  $2–$3; to save money, buy a larger container

Protein powder

  • Favored by Ryan Reynolds when prepping to be a vampire
  • Why whey? Can help boost strength and muscle size
  • Nutri perks Easy to digest
  • BUT? Often high in sugar and mysterious additives
  • Keep it healthier Look for fewer additives or substitute nutritional yeast
  • Cost Way more expensive than real food
How much protein do you need?

Here’s how to figure out how much protein you need.

Multiply your body weight
in pounds by 0.336.
Unless you’re a serious athlete,
you probably don’t need more.

For example:
If you weigh 150 lb, you need 50 grams of protein a day (0.336 x 150 = 50.4)
If you weigh 200 lb, you need 67 grams of protein a day (0.336 x 200 = 67.2)

Steak (size of a pack of cards) | 42 grams
Chicken breast | 30 grams
Most fish fillets | 22 grams
½ cup tofu (size of a pack of cards) | 20 grams
2 Tbsp. peanut butter | 8 grams
1 egg | 6 grams

Check out the sketchy ingredients that may be in your shake

Delish recipe for quinoa porridge

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Benedicte Crudgington is a third-year undergraduate at Wake Forest University, North Carolina. She is majoring in psychology and health and exercise science, and plans to become a registered dietitian.