All About Protein

Protein is essential for life. While it’s important for building muscle and improving blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity, the benefits of protein extend far beyond just muscle health. Protein is crucial for strong bones, youthful-looking skin, healthy hair, bountiful energy, a better mood, restful sleep, a healthy pregnancy and postpartum journey and so much more. In fact, your body uses at least 10,000 different proteins to keep you alive.

Proteins are integral to the digestion, absorption, and transportation of nutrients after eating a meal, so your protein impacts whether the body will absorb enough other essential nutrients. It also is the most satiating macronutrient so it’s key for feeling satisfied throughout the day. Not consuming enough protein can increase your risk of muscle loss, poor sleep, blood sugar dysregulation, imbalanced mood, hunger and cravings, brittle or dull hair, extra body fat, and decreased immune function. 

Protein is composed of amino acids, considered the “building block of life,” which form all of your cells, tissues, organs, and muscles. These amino acids also form enzymes and hormones that help cells communicate, transport oxygen, and balance the intra- and extracellular fluids that keep your body functioning appropriately. Several of these amino acids are essential, which means your body cannot make them and must be consumed from your diet.

So it’s clear that protein is essential for health and that you must get adequate amounts from your diet, but the question is how much protein do you actually need?

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Of course, the answer isn’t clear regarding how much protein is enough—there are some leaders in the nutrition science space who argue for lower daily protein consumption to promote longevity. And on the other hand, others argue for an approach that is “the more protein, the better.” 

Diets that are too low in protein risk muscle-wasting, difficulty losing weight, damaged skin and hair, poor sleep, and weakness, but more is not always better if your body doesn’t need more protein. When you increase protein, you need a healthy gut to break down and absorb amino acids and offset GI symptoms. If you don’t have enough stomach acid or digestive enzyme production, more protein could lead to more GI symptoms. Having too little or too much may prevent you from improving your health, metabolism, and muscle mass. 

So, What is Optimal for YOU?

As with everything, there is no “one size fits all” approach because individual needs vary based on your weight, physical activity, health goals/history, age, and if you are pregnant or postpartum. It’s best to work directly with a provider to help make a personalized plan for you, but because protein intake is crucially important for so many facets of health, my team and I put together some general guidelines to aim for:

For the average adult: We typically recommend a minimum of 1.2 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight each day.

If you weigh 150 lbs, that would be about 82g of protein daily.

For the exercise enthusiast: The latest scientific research indicates that you should aim for closer to 1.4-2.0 g/kg.

If you weigh 150 lbs, that would be about 95 to 136g of protein daily. 

For those looking to build muscle or lose fat: The recommendation for protein is closer to 1.6-2.4g/kg.

If you weigh 150 lbs, that would be about 109 to 163g of protein daily

If those recommendations sound like a lot, it’s likely you are under-consuming protein based on your needs and what it takes to create optimal health. Luckily, there are easy ways of adding protein to your diet!

How To Add More Protein To Your Diet 

Here are six easy and delicious ways to add more protein to your diet:

1. Add Protein Powder to Breakfast

One scoop of vanilla protein powder = 23g of protein.

Try making nutrient-dense smoothies as an easy and quick way to add a boost of protein to your daily routine. My favorite protein powder is Be Well By Kelly. BWBK uses only the highest quality grass-fed beef protein, which is an amazing source of amino acids, BCAAs, and collagen, has very few ingredients, is minimally processed (using zero chemicals, like hexane, in the extraction process), and tastes delicious.

Join my 7 day free trial of my membership, The Being Collective for dozens of delicious, high protein, and blood sugar balancing smoothie recipes.

2. Incorporate Nutritional Yeast with Any Meal

Two tablespoons = 5g of protein & 2g of fiber.

Nutritional yeast is a pantry essential because it provides a convenient, shelf-stable source of plant-based protein and fiber. You can add nutritional yeast on top of any salad,  vegetables, beans, honestly, just about everything! It has a cheesy flavor profile, which is especially nice for anyone who is dairy-free.

3. Reach for Lupini Beans

One bag = 21g of plant-based protein, 15g of fiber, and 0g net carbs.

Lupini beans are as close to a magical food as they come (and my favorite snack!). That means it’s a great source of plant-based protein without the carbohydrate load. They are also rich in micronutrients like manganese, iron, and folate for a true nutritional powerhouse. They come in different flavors and you can easily grab a bag to go when traveling AND are a huge hit with kids—they love them and are easy to pack in lunches. 

4. Incorporate Canned Fish like Sardines, Anchovies, Oysters, and Salmon

One 6 oz can = 39g of protein.

In addition to offering a rich source of protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, canned fish is also easy to store, making it an optimal choice to keep in your pantry for weeks when you’re in a pinch. The shelf life and convenience are unmatched! Look for fish packed in olive oil or water. If you’re looking for a delicious way of trying out canned fish, check out my salmon salad recipe.  

5. Load up on Seeds

3 tbsp hemp seeds = 9g of protein.

Seeds are another great, plant-based option to incorporate protein throughout the day. My go-to’s are chia, pumpkin, and hemp seeds and I add them to everything—in smoothies, over salads, and by the handful as snacks. Seeds are also a great source of healthy fat, fiber, and omega-3s!

6. Eat Eggs

One egg = 7g of protein.

Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years because they have been incorrectly vilified for increasing cholesterol levels. While eggs do contain dietary cholesterol, about 275mg per egg, it turns out that dietary cholesterol does not directly increase levels of blood cholesterol like researchers once believed.  Eggs are also an amazing source of choline, DHA, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, lutein, and zeaxanthin—nutrients that support eye health. Unless you have an allergy or sensitivity to eggs, reach for pasture-raised eggs for a protein-rich option.

Putting it Together

One of my favorite protein-rich go-tos is my Chocolate Cherry Smoothie, which includes more than 30 grams of protein. 

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie:


  • 2 tbsp coconut milk coffee creamer
  • 1 c water (or more as needed)
  • 1 serving of Be Well By Kelly chocolate protein powder (20-25g protein)
  • 1 c frozen cauliflower rice
  • ½ c frozen cherries
  • 1 tbsp almond butter and 1 tbsp hemp seeds.


  • Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until desired consistency. 

You can find this recipe and hundreds more protein-rich meals, snacks and smoothies in my exclusive membership, The Being Collective.

Some Concluding Tips for Incorporating Protein in Your Diet

If your goal is to include more protein in your diet (and it probably should be!), try to prioritize high-quality sources. Look for grass-fed or pasture-raised meats, wild-caught fish, and organic plant-based proteins. Make sure to eat a variety of protein sources. Every source of protein, whether it be animal or plant-based, has different levels of the various amino acids. By consuming a wide variety of protein-containing foods, you’ll ensure you’re meeting all of your amino acid needs. And do your best to distribute protein intake throughout the day. Aim to get 30 to 45 grams of protein in every meal. 

Not only will your muscles benefit from the optimal amount of protein, but so will your body composition, sleep, energy, hair, skin, and bones!