Protein is an important macronutrient used by the body for building, repairing and maintaining tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is made of 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are called essential amino acids because they are not produced by the body and have to be obtained from your diet. A complete protein is one that has all 9 amino acids- e.g. eggs, milk, meat, poultry, and fish, and foods made from soy- tofu and tempeh. Most plant proteins (e.g. legumes and nuts) are incomplete proteins but they may be combined with other foods to make complete proteins.
Simply put, protein should occupy about a quarter of your plate. According to dietary guidelines protein should make up 10 to 35 percent of your total caloric intake and 1 gram of protein provides 4 calories. This means for a 1200 calorie diet, your protein intake can be between 30 gm and 105 gm to be within dietary guidelines. If your focus is weight loss, then you may try to consume closer to 25 % protein in your diet which is around 75 gm for a 1200 calorie diet. A good rule of thumb is to eat at least 20-30 gm of protein for each meal including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A potential benefit associated with protein ingestion includes increased satiety. Therefore start your day with a high protein breakfast which includes foods such as eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, and smoothies with protein powders. For lunch and dinner, include lean meat, fish, poultry, beans and peas, and tofu as well as grains such as quinoa and whole wheat. For snacks include a small portion of nuts, yogurt and cottage cheese.