Protein

British Nutrition Foundation

We aim to give people access to reliable science-based information to support anyone on their journey towards a healthy, sustainable diet. In this section you can read about protein in the diet, the foods that provide protein and how they affect our health.

Quick facts on protein

  • Protein is a macronutrient – macronutrients (sometimes called ‘macros’) are the nutrients we need in relatively larger amounts that provide us with calories. Macronutrients include protein, carbohydrates and fat. Protein provides 4kcal per gram.
  • We need protein to help the body grow and repair itself.
  • Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When we digest proteins, they are broken down to amino acids, which the body uses to make new proteins. Some can be produced by the human body whereas others we can only get from the diet. These are known as essential amino acids.
  • Proteins are found in every cell of the body and are needed for many of the important functions that make our body work properly. They are important for helping children’s bones to grow and to keep our bones and muscles healthy throughout our lives.
  • In the UK, on average, we are eating enough protein, for example the recommended amount for adult women is 45g of protein per day (based having 0.75g protein per kg bodyweight for a woman weighing 60kg) and, on average, women are consuming about 67g of protein per day.
  • Protein is found in a wide range of different foods. We can divide food sources of protein into two groups: animal protein sources such as meat, dairy, fish and eggs and plant protein sources such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. These are both included in healthy eating guidelines like the UK’s Eatwell Guide.
  • It is a good idea to get protein from a variety of foods and the Government recommend we eat more pulses like beans, lentils, chickpeas that are naturally low in fat and high in fibre.
  • A common misconception is that those who do not eat any meat or fish will not get enough protein. However, studies show that vegans and vegetarians typically do get enough protein from their diet.
  • There is a lot of interest in protein supplements in sports and exercise. For most active people, protein supplements are not needed, and it is better if a variety of foods containing protein are consumed as part of meals or snacks and spread throughout the day. However, there may be situations when a protein supplement is convenient, for example for athletes who are travelling to compete.

Useful resources

Vital Nutrition’s Jane McClenaghan is known for her down-to-earth, practical approach to...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
Fat is an essential nutrient in our diet but may often be thought about negatively and...
We will enrich your events with food demos, health and nutrition check-ups, competitions...
Vital Nutrition specialises in developing bespoke, tailor made nutritional programmes to...
Certified by the AfN. This course is for those with an interest in nutrition and would be...
Vital Nutrition offers a complete range of corporate health and workplace wellbeing...
This course is for midwives and aims to explain the science behind the different types of...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
Do you want to eat in a way that helps you reach your ideal weight, gives you boundless...
This course will provide you with the basic nutrition knowledge and practical tools...
Taste Buds is a resource that helps children aged 8 to 11 enjoy learning about the...
Fun, fast food for less. This is a practical six-week nutrition programme aimed at...
This course is aimed at pharmacists and aims to explain the science behind the different...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course will provide you with the basic knowledge to help you adopt a healthier and...
Your Work Ready dietitian will visit your organisation. They will ask what you want, see...
Cancer Focus NI, Keeping Well vans are mobile drop-in units which bring health checks,...
Are you often too tired to cook? Not organised enough to have breakfast and lunch sorted...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course would be of particular use to health professionals and students wanting to...
We will enrich your events with food demos, health and nutrition check-ups, competitions...
Here at Vital Nutrition, we work with schools all over Northern Ireland to help inspire...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
Vital Nutrition specialises in developing bespoke, tailor made nutritional programmes to...
This course provides caterers, food service providers and catering students with the...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
MediaWise is a FREE media literacy resource, designed by primary school teachers and...
Certified by the AfN. This course is for those who already have a basic knowledge of...
Cancer Focus NI can provide a wide range of presentations to meet the needs of your...
This course is aimed at practice nurses and aims to explain the science behind the...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course is about eating well and keeping healthy if you’re staying at home more since...
Your dietitian will look at any food and drink provision for staff including: canteen or...
The Quick Fit programme offers positive steps to improve your health through diet and...
Vital Nutrition’s Healthy Shift Workers workshop provides employees with a practical plan...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course will provide you with some information about sport and exercise nutrition –...
BDA will enrich your events with food demos, health and nutrition check-ups, competitions...
Food diary, exercise tracker and diet coach
Nutrition scanner
Develop healthier eating habits, be more active, and get on track to start losing weight...
Our free Easy Meals app is a great way to eat foods that are healthier for you. You’ll...
Use this calculator to check your body mass index (BMI) and find out if you are a healthy weight. Or, use it to check your child's BMI centile.