Protein in Common Foods

Individual Needs

Listen to Your Body

Protein needs vary dramatically among individuals, due to numerous factors such as stress levels. If you are under stress, you need more protein than if you are not. According to Robert Crayhon, M.S., C.N.S., author of Robert Crayhons Nutrition Made Simple, people with hypoglycemia, adrenal insufficiency, yeast overgrowth, and food allergies usually need more protein. Protein requirements also change throughout life.[1] Because many factors affect optimal protein intake, the best way to determine how much protein you should eat is to experiment with different amounts and see how you feel. Common symptoms that can signal a need to eat more protein (and fewer carbohydrates such as breads, sugars, and starches) include fatigue, poor mental focus, frequent susceptibility to illness, yeast overgrowth, bloating, and inability to lose weight, premenstrual syndrome, and sugar and carbohydrate cravings.1


To give you a ballpark figure with which to work, divide your weight by 2.2. That is the how many grams of protein may be appropriate for you. For example, a 140 lb person needs approximately 64 grams of protein per day. Keep in mind, calculations for nutrient needs do not take a person’s individuality into account. Use results taken from a calculation as a tool to help guide you, in addition to listening to your body to find your best amount of any nutrient.

Daily Suggestions

A daily protein intake suggestion is 20-30 concentrated grams per meal from fish, poultry, meats, eggs, legumes, or cheese.[2] Some examples include:

  • 3 eggs (18-21 grams of protein)
  • ½ to 1 can of tuna (about 22 to 45 grams of protein)
  • at least 1/3 of a 16-ounce carton (2/3 cup or 5 ounces) of cottage cheese (20 grams of protein)
  • 1 cup of beans (10 to 19 grams of protein) plus 2 to 4 Tbs. of seeds (5 to 10 grams of protein)
  • 4 ounces of grass-fed meat, wild fish, organic poultry, approximately the size of your palm (20 grams of protein)


Many people do well with 20%-35% of their daily calories coming from protein.

A note on protein combining

Protein combining (or protein complementing) is the idea that vegetarians and vegans must combine certain plant foods, like rice and beans, in one meal to get a complete protein. This idea dates back to a popular book written by Francis Moore Lappé in 1971, entitled Diet for a Small Planet. Though the idea has stuck, it is outdated and not supported by current knowledge.3 We now know that our livers store the essential amino acids we take in through diet, and can therefore create complete proteins from the foods we eat throughout the day (as long as we are eating a nutritious, whole foods diet rather than a junk-food diet). Nutritionists now recommend that vegetarians and vegans focus on consuming a variety of whole plant foods throughout the day, rather than combining specific foods at each meal, to meet protein requirements.


Food Quantity Protein in Grams
Avocado 1 3 ¼ inch diameter 5
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 29
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 13
Chick peas, cooked 1 cup 12
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 12
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18
Blackeyed peas, cooked 1 cup 11
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 10
Tofu, firm 4 oz. 11
Tempeh ½ cup or 4 ounces 17
Nutritional yeast 1 Tablespoon 8
Nuts ¼ cup 2-7
     Almonds, Cashews ¼ cup 7
     Peanuts, Pumpkin seeds ¼ cup 10
     Peanut butter 1 Tablespoon 4
Seeds 1 ounce 6
     Sunflower seeds ¼ cup 9
Oatmeal, cooked 1 cup 6
Rice, cooked 1 cup 6
Quinoa 1 cup cooked 9
Bread One slice 2-3
Peas 1 cup 9
Fruit One apple, banana, orange, etc. 1
Miso 1 ounce 2
Vegetables 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked 2-3
Buttermilk 1 cup 8
Cheese, firm 1 ounce 6-10
Cheese, soft 1 ounce 2-4
Cottage cheese 1 cup 30
Eggs One 6-7
Kefir 1 cup 9
Meat, poultry, fish 3-3 ½ ounces 17-27 (1 oz = approx 7 grams)
Milk 1 cup 8-9
Yogurt 1 cup 8-9



[1] Crayhon, Robert. M.S. C.N. Nutrition Made Simple. M. Evans and Company. New York. 1994

[2] Ross, Julia, M.A. The Diet Cure. Penguin Books. 1999