The Physicians Committee

Do You Suffer from "Protein Anxiety"?

  September 14, 2017    

Do you suffer from protein anxiety? Eat more green vegetables and legumes.

Do you suffer from “protein anxiety?” It’s a condition commonly seen in people who have never had a protein deficiency, but worry endlessly that they’re not getting enough. They pile on the meat, fish, eggs, or cheese, trying to avert an imaginary lack of protein.


Of course, the body needs some protein to build and repair body tissues. But protein is widely available in beans, vegetables, and grains. It is almost impossible not to get all the protein you need, even without eating meat, dairy, or eggs.

Here are the numbers: An average women needs about 46 grams of protein per day; the average man about 56. If a person were to eat nothing but broccoli for a day, a 2,000-calorie diet would provide a whopping 146 grams of protein. Yes, green vegetables are loaded with protein. A person eating only lentils would get even more—2,000 calories’ worth of lentils pack 157 grams. Of course, no one would eat only broccoli or only lentils, and it is much better to combine foods—beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits—to get complete nutrition. The point is that plant-based foods clearly provide abundant protein.

The average American actually consumes too much protein, according to the CDC, with most people getting nearly double the amount they actually need. And more isn’t better. When protein comes from animal products—which are high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol—diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease often follow.

So how much protein do you really need?

You can calculate your daily requirement using this calculator, or multiply your weight (in pounds) by 0.36 to calculate the grams of protein you need in a day. For example, someone who weighs 140 pounds needs about 50 grams of protein per day. And once you’ve calculated it, forget it. There is no need for “protein anxiety.” Because a varied plant-based diet of whole grains, vegetables, and beans can easily meet your daily protein needs, without the risks of animal products. Read our infographic to below to see how it all adds up!

Plant based Protein Infographic


Plenty of Protein

As your activity level increases, your appetite increases which automatically takes care of getting plenty of protein. I've been vegan for 35 years now and in 1984 was the first vegan to do the Ironman Triathlon -- with plenty of protein! (:>)

Great answer

This is exactly what I wanted. I will keep this info for my meat loving friends!


I am a 44 year old woman and everything I see tells me that as I get older I need more protein to maintain my muscle and help my body to continue to burn more calories. They say more lean protein helps fight the mid section fluff as well. This causes me protein anxiety. Have you found there is a difference with the amount of protein a person needs based on gender and or age?

Vegan diet and diabetes

I have seen patients reduce and even come off their doctors' medications after changing their diet and eating healthily.
In fact, the vegan diet is very powerful in helping with many chronic illnesses.

High protein diet for broken arm

My sister-in-law recently had a serious break in her upper arm with multiple fractures and is asking if a high protein diet is what she should eat as highly recommended by her orthopedic surgeon. She even urged her to stop on the way home from the hospital for a double patty burger with cheese. I'm a vegan, so I eat only plant foods. I want to caution her not to increase her intake of animal protein but use beans, nuts and vegetables for her protein. Is this the right advice for the healing of her fractures?

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