Proteins in food: the most important questions and answers

Proteine in Lebensmitteln: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

"Protein Foods This... Protein Foods That..." - All over the internet you can find these "secrets" that will help you get your dream body shape and lead a healthier life. Of course, proteins are a part of our body that cannot be replaced. They also have a tremendous effect on your physique, but more on that later.

Precisely because the topic "protein food" is scattered from so many perspectives and with so many opinions on the net, we felt responsible for giving you an objective and varied overview of the topic.

the essentials in brief

  • Proteins Foods are of great importance for our body. Our immune system, muscles and other important parts of our body are very dependent on proteins.
  • Appropriate dosage for each individual should be observed. A deficiency or overdose can lead to unpleasant consequences.
  • What foods you consume for protein also plays a role in your health. Don't overemphasize meat in your diet, but try to get some plant-based protein sources into your diet as well.

Supplementing your diet with protein-rich foods: What you should know

Protein food is a very important and broad topic that affects our everyday life. That's why we've answered the most frequently asked questions briefly and concisely for you.

What is protein / what is the role of protein in the body?

So here is a very general question. What are these proteins and what do we need them for anyway? Well, very simply put, proteins are molecules made up of amino acids . They are in every cell of our body. There are many different ones, and their function depends on their structure, but we won't go that deep into the subject here.

What you need to know is what their functions are in our body. A few of those are as follows:

  • Immune System: Proteins make antibodies that help our immune system
  • Muscles: Proteins allow muscles to contract
  • Flow of Processes: Protein enables the metabolic process in our body
  • Energy: Protein provides energy in our body
  • Hormones: Protein also acts as a hormone (1)

You now have a good command of the basics of this topic. Now for some more specific questions.

How much of foods with proteins are recommended?

If you are reading this article, then you are probably also interested in bringing your protein consumption with food into line with the norms. It is important to know what daily dosage is suitable for your body. You can also update your eating habits accordingly.

This table contains the values ​​(g protein/day), which vary according to age and gender:

Age in years/months g per kg body weight
0 to less than 1 month 2.5
1 to under 2 months 1.8
2 to under 4 months 1.4
4 to under 12 months 1.3
1 to under 4 years 1.0
4 to under 7 years 0.9
7 to under 10 years 0.9
10 to under 13 years 0.9
13 to under 15 years 0.9
15 to under 19 years male 0.9 / female 0.8
19 to under 25 years 0.8
25 to under 51 years 0.8
51 are under 65 years 0.8
65 years and older 1.0


If you want to pay even more attention to the intake of protein foods and are interested in muscle building, then we recommend a protein dosage per meal that is not much higher than 30 g. Because around this value is the limit of proteins that your liver can process "shortly" and use for optimal muscle building. (5)

Watch your weight

If you are very picky about the dosage, you can roughly determine the dosages yourself and create your own menu. (Image Source: Calum MacAulay / Unsplash)

There are good reasons why these values ​​have been set in this way. That's why the next important question.

What happens when you eat too much protein?

A huge amount of blog posts, articles and other texts are swarming the net and focus on the fact that protein foods MUST be the be-all and end-all of your diet. But what if you overdo the whole thing a bit?

As already mentioned, there are certainly reasons for the previously mentioned guidelines. For example, studies on mice have shown that overdosing on protein can lead to liver damage. This damage is caused because the liver is unable to process the proteins in large quantities. (3)

Of course, the "more extreme" symptoms only occur with significantly above-average protein consumption. So don't develop a protein phobia!

Other test results have demonstrated the same effect on the human body and even found other risks from extensive and excessive protein intake. Symptoms of overdosing are nausea and diarrhea. In very extreme cases, death can even occur because the liver is no longer able to process the proteins. (4)

The first image should be inserted after this part so as not to confront the reader with too much text.

What can a lack of protein in the foods you consume lead to?

Just as with an overdose, there are also negative consequences with a lack of protein foods. They can appear both internally and externally and in some cases even be barely noticeable.

The symptoms that appear externally include weak muscles, swelling, thin and fragile hair and sensitive skin. (6) So even for those people who aren't particularly interested in bodybuilding but are more interested in the way their hair looks - protein foods are essential!!

In some cases, the internal symptoms are less noticeable from the outside. These are hormonal imbalances:

In addition, diets that contain little protein food can lead to muscle breakdown. Because the body has a minimum requirement for protein. If our body isn't getting this amount, it breaks down muscle (which is made of protein) to meet its needs. (1)

build muscles

You can lose muscle mass quickly on low-protein diets. (Image Source: 123rf / Milan Markovic)

Older people in particular should increasingly pay attention to their consumption of enough protein foods, since from the age of 50 you lose around 1-2% of your muscle mass every year. To inhibit this, adequate protein consumption is fundamental. It can also lead to a weakened immune system, which can be particularly dangerous for older people. (7)

In the long run, these symptoms can prove to be very harmful and thus make your life much more uncomfortable. How you look and feel is central to your life, just as protein is a central part of your body.

Are Foods With Protein Good for Weight Loss?

The original goal for many who want to find out more about this topic is to change something in their own body. You will definitely need protein foods to build muscle mass, and it's all over the internet. Only the question remains: "Can you lose weight with protein?"

Since this topic is perceived rather sensitively by many, we have dealt with this question in detail and read through several studies.

It may sound like it, but you can't lose weight just by eating. Protein foods HELP. Sport is still essential.

Ultimately, after doing some research, we came to the conclusion that protein actually helps with weight loss. This is shown by the results of several tests carried out in studies. (8,9,10)

How exactly does this work? Chemically speaking, this is achieved through dietary thermogenesis. This means that our body produces heat during processing. In turn, he needs energy for this, which means that fats are broken down. (11)

Which foods have the most protein?

Now for the part where we finally show you what protein foods to consume to get on the norm. In this table we have differentiated between animal and vegetable protein foods. Note, however, that we have listed the most protein-rich foods here. That means they could also be high in fat and they may not suit your diet.

Animal proteins per 100 g Vegetable proteins per 100 g
Beef Jerky = 55g Sweet lupine flour = 39 g
Serrano ham = 30 g Hemp seeds = 37 g
Harz cheese = 30 g Soybeans = 34 g
Anchovies = 29 g Peanuts = 25g
Tuna in its own juice = 26 g Pumpkin seeds = 24 g
Camembert = 24 g Lentils = 23g
Deer = 23 g Chia seeds = 21 g
Turkey breast = 23 g Almonds = 20g
Beef = 21.2 g Tempeh = 19g
Prawns = 18.5g Natto = 17 g


Here we have included only the 10 highest protein foods in our table. If you don't find anything that suits your taste here, you can check the source from this table, which lists a few more foods. (12) You can also search Google for other suggestions and find what you are looking for.

In the next question we will explain why exactly we decided to divide these protein foods into two different categories.

Which is healthier - plant or animal foods with protein?

Also a very controversial topic that is very common on the net. It is often claimed that plant-based proteins are supposed to be better foods because they are healthier. Is that really the case?

A study of around 130,000 men and women of all ages, analyzing data collected over 32 years, found that higher mortality was associated with high meat consumption. The study also shows that people who substituted plant-based foods for animal proteins had lower risks of cardiovascular disease. This is associated with a longer service life. (13)

However, you should also make a distinction here. There are red meats such as beef, veal, pork, mutton. And then white meat that comes from poultry. A meta-analysis of several studies reports that red meat shortens lifespan significantly more compared to white meat. (14)

The greater harmfulness is that red meat contains far more saturated fat . These fats can raise blood cholesterol levels, leading to a higher risk of heart disease. (15)

You're probably thinking by now that meat in general is too much of a risk to include in your diet since it can shorten your lifespan so drastically. It's not that bad now. As long as you include plant-based foods in your proteins and not just animal-based foods, you can avoid the risks. Only a higher consumption of meat than animal protein foods can cause such negative consequences. So don't panic just because you like eating meat.

  • Animal foods are very rich in proteins
  • Many people like meat better
  • There is white meat, which is much healthier compared to red
  • Excessive consumption can shorten life expectancy
  • Vegetable proteins offer good alternatives

What alternatives are there to protein foods?

If you are not satisfied with protein foods as a source or you want something more, then we have selected alternatives for you.

protein powder and protein shakes

Here we can recommend nutritional supplements such as protein powder or protein shakes. These contain higher amounts of protein and can help you get protein more easily.

There's no point in supplementing your diet when it's already so complete.

However, you have to keep one thing in mind! It doesn't help much if you, as a diet watcher or amateur athlete, consume more protein than recommended. (2) Because the liver is not able to convert the superfluous proteins into valuable substances and excretes the remaining proteins with the urine. (16) In other words, you would just throw your money away without getting anything.

alternative to exercising

If exercise isn't a huge part of your life, supplements may not be the best choice to fill in the missing amount of protein (Image source: Victor Freitas / Unsplash)

So pay attention to what you eat every day. If you don't get the amount of protein you need, you can use this alternative and complete your diet.

Since these products are higher in protein, it may also be worth consuming a little more protein food. You can get the 5 to 7 grams of protein with additional protein snacks like peanuts .

On the other hand, if you're a competitive or high-performance athlete, those higher amounts of protein that protein shakes and protein powders provide might not be a bad thing. A study on athletes and the consumption of such products report on the increase in performance. (17)

  • High protein dosage
  • Good for competitive athletes
  • Can give you the boost you need up to your need
  • Superfluous for many
  • Can be a waste of money

Snacks such as protein bars or foods with a higher protein dosage

These could be a good fit for you. When you're looking for a snack to get you on the last 5 to 7 grams of protein up your daily dose. There is a plentiful selection of products on the market that are higher doses of protein. From candy bars to chips. You might even be able to make your own, like banana bread , that tastes good and provides more protein.

Find what suits your taste and your other needs better and grab it!


As you have now noticed, this is a very broad topic that causes many people to have serious doubts. That's why you should find out about it. Proteins are some of the most important building blocks in our body. Even literally, since they are an important part of our cells. The dosage, dosage sizes, and sources of those dosages all play a role in helping you keep your body fit.

Even if you're only concerned about your hair or your nails, now you know, now you know that if they're getting more fragile, it could just be a lack of protein.


  1. Mag. Rita Longin (2014): Proteins. Source
  2. German Nutrition Society: reference values Source
  3. Oarada M, Tsuzuki T, Nikawa T, Kohno S, Hirasaka K, & Gonoi T (2012). Refeeding with a high-protein diet after a 48 h fast causes acute hepatocellular injury in mice. British Journal of Nutrition, 107(10), 1435-1444. doi:10.1017/S0007114511004521 Source
  4. Bilsborough S, Mann N. A review of issues of dietary protein intake in humans. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Apr;16(2):129-52. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.16.2.129. PMID: 16779921. Source
  5. Mamerow MM, Mettler JA, English KL, et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr. 2014;144(6):876-880. doi:10.3945/jn.113.185280 Source
  6. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Recommended Dietary Allowances: 10th Edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. PMID: 25144070. Source
  7. Tanja Unterberg (2016): Protein requirements in old age Source
  8. Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373-85. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381. PMID: 15466943. Source
  9. Westerterp KR. Diet-induced thermogenesis. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004 Aug 18;1(1):5. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-1-5. PMID: 15507147; PMCID: PMC524030. Source
  10. Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Feb;42(2):326-37. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181b2ef8e. PMID: 19927027. Source
  11. "diet-induced thermogenesis ." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . 13 Jan 2021 Source
  12. Julia-Sarah Hennig: A comparison of protein-containing foods Source
  13. Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1453-1463. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182 Source
  14. Susanna C. Larsson, Nicola Orsini, Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption and All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 179, Issue 3, 1 February 2014, Pages 282-289, https://doi .org/10.1093/aje/kwt261 Source
  15. Meat, Poultry, and Fish: Picking Healthy Proteins Source
  16. Quarks: That's why you can do without protein powder Source
  17. äger, R., Kerksick, CM, Campbell, BI et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Status: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 20 (2017). Source
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