Protein is often a nutrient of focus- particularly with those looking to attain fitness goals. However, the reality is that the standard American diet typically contains much more protein than we actually need (CDC, 2012). Good sources of protein can be found in things like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, tofu, seeds/nuts, beans, and quinoa. There are also smaller amounts of protein contained in whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, as well fruits and vegetables. In fact, there are very few foods that are completely devoid of protein.
As dietitians, we often use a standard formula of protein intake adequacy for a typical healthy person- which is .8 grams of protein for each kilogram (kg) of body weight. You can convert pounds to kilograms by taking your weight in pounds and dividing it by 2.2. For example, if we need to determine the protein requirements for a 150lb individual, we would first convert their weight to kilograms using the above conversion factor (150lb divided by 2.2 = 68kg). Then we simply multiply their weight in kilograms by .8 to get a daily protein target (68 x .8 = 54.5 gm).
Protein demands can definitely vary from person to person. Women who are pregnant or nursing as well as avid athletes require a bit more protein than the average individual. However even these special groups can get all the protein they need from the foods they eat without the need for supplementation.
An easy way to ensure your diet contains an appropriate amount of protein without all the math would be by incorporating the concepts outlined in the MyPlate program developed by the USDA. This program helps individuals make good nutritional choices and ensures that macronutrient components (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) are in optimal proportion to each other for an overall healthy diet.