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Protein FAQs

Take the Protein Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and Test your Knowledge!

Q:Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. True or false?

A:True.

Proteins are essential components of our cells, tissues, and organs. Proteins are large molecules with complex structures. Each of the enzymes in our cells are proteins that have specialized functions in the operations of the cells. These are responsible for our energy production. Proteins also serve as building blocks for the structure of our tissues and organs. When we eat proteins, our digestion breaks them into their component amino acids. Our bodies use these amino acids to form proteins within the body.

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Q:Most adults in the U.S. do not get enough protein from their diets. True or false?

A:False.

In the U.S., people typically receive enough protein in their diets to satisfy the needs of their bodies. Protein supplements are generally not of value for healthy people.

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Q:What kinds of foods are high in protein?

A:Foods high in protein include meats, poultry, and fish, as well as milk and milk products, tofu, grains, some vegetables and fruits, eggs, legumes (dry beans and peas), nuts, and seeds.

Eating a variety of protein foods can improve nutrient intake and health. Seafood (at least 8 ounces weekly for adults, less for children) can be especially nutritious. Lean or low-fat poultry and meat are also good protein sources. For vegetarians, peas, beans, nuts, seeds, and processed soy products are options.

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Q:How much of your daily intake of calories should come from protein?

A:Protein should provide 10-35% of one's daily calorie intake.

Don't focus too much on your protein needs. Instead, choose an overall healthy eating plan that provides the protein you need as well as other nutrients.

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Q:Which of the following foods has the greatest amount of protein: A cup of milk or 3 oz of meat?

A:A 3-ounce piece of meat.

To compare protein sources, a 3-ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein. In contrast, 1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein, 1 cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein, and an 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein. Together, these food sources provide 56 grams of protein, which is enough for an adult male. It is best to choose the overall diet based on a balanced approach to include other nutrients.

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Q:What are complete proteins?

A: Complete proteins provide all the amino acids the body needs.

Incomplete proteins do not provide all of the amino acids required by the body. Complete protein foods include animal products such as cheese, eggs, yogurt, and milk. Incomplete proteins include plant foods, such as nuts and beans. Nevertheless, eating a variety of plant foods can provide optimal protein intake.

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Q:Women need more protein than men. True or false?

A:False.

Men require more dietary protein than women. Men require about 56 grams of protein while women require about 46 grams daily. Requirements for protein depend on the level of physical activity as well as gender and age. Most Americans get more than enough protein and could benefit by decreasing and varying their protein intake.

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Q:There is no such thing as too much protein. True or false?

A:False.

Americans tend to consume twice the necessary amount of protein daily. Excess protein has been linked with kidney injury, calcium kidney stones, osteoporosis, and some cancers.

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Q:Athletes need much more protein than other people. True or False?

A:False.

Athletes need just slightly more protein than non-athletes. These protein needs can be satisfied by the higher caloric intake that is required for the energy needs of athletic activity.

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Q:How many amino acids make up every type of protein?

A:There are 20 amino acids that our bodies use in various combinations to make our proteins.

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins. Amino acids that cannot be made by our bodies are called essential amino acids. These amino acids must be consumed in our diets.

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