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Protein Breakdown

Image by Roberta Sorge

Protein can be consumed either through animal sources or plant sources. Digestion of proteins begins in the stomach where proteins are broken down into amino acids. Amino acids are the smallest forms of proteins, and pepsin and hydrochloric acid help break it into these small forms so these amino acids can be digested into the system.


After the stomach breaks down these proteins the pancreas sends out other chemicals to help finish the process. After the proteins are broken completely the body can absorb them and utilize their potential. 

Unfortunately, if you have thyroid disease, this disease can affect how fast or slow the body can metabolize foods, such as proteins. Therefore, it is good to know what your daily protein requirement is.

Daily Protein Requirement

Everyone has a different amount of protein that should be consumed. This information is based on bio-individuality and disease conditions. People who are young differ from people who are old or sick and adolescents need a slightly higher amount of protein than adults. Also, children between the ages of 9 yrs. and 13 yrs. actually need even more because their bodies are still developing, while the elderly need just as much because they are not as active. Lastly,  people with illness, injury, or an acute disease state could need higher or lower amounts to promote healing and repair.

Protein Intake

Grilled Steak and Green Beans

What is also misleading is weight versus the amount of protein intake. It is often said the bigger you are the more protein you should be consuming. This is partly true. However, a person should be consuming the calculated amount of protein of their Ideal Body Weight (IBW); unless they are 30% or more overweight, not their actual weight. Then at that point, a person should be consuming the amount of protein that is calculated to their Adjusted Body Weight (ABW). The only time people should be calculating their actual body weight is if their actual body weight is their IBW.

How does a person know if they are 30% or more overweight? The BMR/RMR Calories Calculator can help decipher that info. Nonetheless, if a person has a disease condition like thyroid disease in addition to being 30% overweight, a nutrition professional should figure out your requirements for you.

Get to Know Yourself

Knowing how to calculate protein is essential to ensure a person will stay healthy longer. How do I know how much protein I am eating? Well, 4 oz of meat is about the size of the palm of your hand. If you are a man with larger hands, that could adequate to 6 oz of meat.


  1. Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krause’s food and the nutrition care process (14th Ed.). Elsevier.

  2. Ross, C. A., Caballero, B., Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K. L., & Ziegler, T. R., (2014). Modern nutrition in health and disease (11th Ed.). Wolters-Kluwer.

  3. Bauer, J., Biolo, G., Cederholm, T., et al., & Boirieet, Y. (2013). Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: A position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. Journal of American Medical Directors Association, 14(8), 542-559.

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