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Nutrition Basics
Why is protein important?
• Basic units are amino acids
– “building blocks of protein”
• Protein is needed for growth, tissue replacement,
and tissue maintenance
– Muscles, cartilage, skin, bones and blood
– Enzymes, hormones, and vitamins
• Protein provides 4 calories/gram
Amino Acids (AA)
• Non-essential
• Your body can synthesize them
• Do not need to get them from the diet
• Essential
• Your body can't make nine AA
• They are called essential AA because it's essential
that you get them from the foods you eat.
Complete vs. Incomplete
• Complete
– Contains all nine of the essential AA
– Protein from animal sources
• Meat and milk
• Incomplete
– Lacks one or more of the essential AA
– Most vegetable protein
• Beans, lentils, nuts
Complementary Proteins
• Combination of incomplete protein that
when put together forms a complete protein
– Rice and Beans
What Foods Contain Protein?
• Protein is found in many foods:
– Beef
– Pork
– Poultry
– Fish
– Dry beans
– Peas
– Eggs
– Nuts
– Seeds
Pop Quiz!
Are foods from animal
products typically complete
or incomplete proteins?
How Much Protein Do I Need?
• MyPyramid recommends eating 5 ½ ounces
every day
• Recommendations made in ounce
equivalents (oz eq)
• For example
– 1 soy or bean burger patty = 2 oz eq
– 1 ounce of meat poultry or fish = 1 oz eq
– 1 small lean hamburger = 2 to 3 oz eq
Serving Sizes
• 1 can of tuna, drained = 3 to 4 oz eq
• ¼ cup cooked dry beans or 1 cup bean soup
= 2 oz eq
• 1 egg = 1 oz eq
• 1 tablespoon of peanut butter = 1 oz eq
• ½ ounce of nuts or seeds = 12 almonds, 24
pistachios, 7 walnut halves = 1 oz eq
Typical Serving Sizes
Portion Sizes
• 1 oz. meat: size of a matchbox
• 3 oz. meat: size of a deck of cards or bar of
soap—the recommended portion for a meal
• 8 oz. meat: size of a thin paperback book
• 3 oz. fish: size of a checkbook
• 1 oz. cheese: size of 4 dice
• 2 Tbs. peanut butter: size of a ping pong ball
Pop Quiz!
Is it possible for vegetarians to
get enough protein?
What are some examples of
protein sources available to
Vegetarian Proteins
Eggs (for ovo-vegetarians)
Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter)
Peas (chickpeas, cowpeas, lentils, or split
• Soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers)
Tips for Making Good Choices
• Choose lean cuts of meat such as round steak,
tenderloin, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and
ground beef that is at least 90% lean
• Trim visible fats from meats and poultry before
• Skip or limit the breading on meat, poultry or fish
• Broil meats or use small amounts of oil when frying
• Needed for growth, tissue maintenance and
• Complete vs Incomplete
• Complementary
• Food sources
– Animal: beef, chicken, fish, pork, eggs
– Vegetable: beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds
• Daily needs
• Healthy choices