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Protein is important for the growth and repair of your body, and can also be used as a source of energy.



Protein is found in a range of animal and plant foods including:

  • meat, poultry and fish,
  • eggs,
  • nuts and seeds,
  • beans and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas,
  • dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, and
  • soy products such as tofu.



The amount of protein you need in your diet depends on your gender, weight, age and health. As a general guide, the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of protein (measured in grams per kilogram of body weight) is:

  • 0.75g/kg for adult women, and
  • 0.84g/kg for adult men.


You generally need more protein during times of growth and repair, such as:

during childhood and adolescence,

  • body building,
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding, and
  • after illness or surgery.


The Australian guidelines recommend that you get 15-25% of your total energy intake from protein sources.



Protein deficiencies can be seen in people who lose weight rapidly through surgery, fad diets, eating disorders or illness. People who follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may also be at risk of protein deficiency, so need to make sure they eat a wide range of plant proteins each day.


Symptoms of protein deficiency can include:

  • muscle wasting,
  • swelling of the feet and ankles,
  • breathlessness and weakness, and
  • slow growth (in children).



If you are meeting the RDI for protein in your diet, you are getting enough protein to build and repair muscles, even if you are a bodybuilder or athlete. If you are consuming too much protein in your diet, this can lead to health problems such as creating strain on your kidneys as they need to work harder to get rid of the toxic by-products of protein breakdown.



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.



Better Health Channel


National Health and Medical Research Council


Dietitians Association of Australia



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