Protein is all the rage right now. From nutrition bars to breakfast cereal — and even ice cream! — food manufacturers are touting protein content to encourage you to buy their goods. But do you really need more protein in your diet? Unless you are an elite athlete, chances are good you’re getting more than enough.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, on average, men are already consuming 102 grams of protein per day and women are consuming 70 grams of protein per day — almost twice the required amount.
To put that number in context, see the chart below.
Because protein deficiency is not a concern for Americans, recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is not even called out on nutrition labels, only protein content.
What nutrients should I focus on then?
Those same studies indicate that most Americans need to eat more grains, vegetables and fruits. The nutrients found in these food groups, are the same nutrients associated with reducing the risk of chronic disease. The graph below is an excellent illustration that shows the nutrient disparities between average consumption and recommended intakes. The opportunity to improve your health by eating nutrient-dense foods is huge.