Protein

What is protein?

Dietary proteins are broken down in the body into amino acids and are used to build cells, form hormones and as energy.

There are 20 different amino acids that, in various combinations, make up millions of different proteins. Some of these amino acids are considered ‘non-essential’ as they can be made in the body; others are ‘essential’ and must be consumed within our diets.

Enjoying a variety of protein-rich foods will help to optimise essential amino acid intake.
Protein rich foods include:

  • Lean meats
  • Poultry ​
  • Fish
  • Eggs 
  • Tofu
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
How much should you eat?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines for Adults recommend that women eat 2 - 2½ serves of protein based foods per day and that men have 2½ - 3 serves per day.

According to the Guidelines one serve of protein is equivalent to:

  • 2 eggs 
  • 65g grams of cooked, lean red meat such as beef, lamb, pork or kangaroo
  • 30 grams of nuts and/or seeds
  • 100 grams of cooked fish
  • 170 grams of tofu
  • 80 grams of cooked chicken or turkey

When choosing protein-rich foods it is important to consider the other nutrients present. For example, red meat is often high in saturated fat and deep sea oily fish, such as salmon and tuna, are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. Having a variety of protein based foods in your diet will ensure that you consume a balance of these other nutrients as well.