Protein is in every living cell in the body. Our bodies need protein from the foods we eat to build and maintain bones, muscles and skin. We get proteins in our diet from meat, dairy products, nuts and certain grains and beans. Proteins from meat and other animal products are complete proteins. This means they supply all of the amino acids the body can't make on its own. Plant proteins are incomplete. You must combine different types of plant proteins to get all of the amino acids your body needs.
It is important to get enough dietary protein. You need to eat protein every day, because your body doesn't store it the way it stores fats or carbohydrates. The average person needs 50 to 65 grams of protein each day. This is the amount in four ounces of meat plus a cup of cottage cheese.
- All About the Protein Foods Group (Department of Agriculture)
- How Much Protein Do You Need? (National Institutes of Health)
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference - Find Nutrient Value of Common Foods by Nutrient (Department of Agriculture)
- Protein (Department of Veterans Affairs) - PDF
- Protein (Harvard School of Public Health)
- With Protein Foods, Variety Is Key: 10 Tips for Choosing Protein (Department of Agriculture) - PDF Available in Spanish
- Total Protein and Albumin/Globulin Ratio Test (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
Health Check Tools
- Daily Food Plan (Department of Agriculture)
Statistics and Research
- Structural Biology Fact Sheet (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Dietary Proteins (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Proteins Are the Body's Worker Molecules (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)