The word protein comes from the Greek word “proteios”, meaning ‘first’ or ‘in the lead’. Aptly named, protein has an exceptional importance for every aspect of your health.

Protein’s key roles at a glance

  • Part of every cell in your body
  • Necessary for wound healing and tissue repair
  • Keeps bones and muscles strong
  • Required to make enzymes and hormones
  • Provides energy and vitality

When it comes to protein, nothing compares to meat

Meats like beef are predominantly made up of protein, with no carbohydrate content. This is different from plant proteins, which are carbohydrate foods with some protein.

The protein in beef and other meats is what’s called ‘complete’, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that humans need for health. Plant-based proteins, on the other hand, do not. Plant-based proteins are known as incomplete proteins and contain only some protein – not as much, and not as high a quality protein source.1

Beef: a force of nature that offers 35 g protein / 100g serving.

As a high quality, protein-first food, meat is highly efficient at delivering the protein your body requires. So with meat, you need to eat less of it to get the protein that your body requires.

How Beef Stacks Up

Source: Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File, 2015, Beef 6172, Almonds 2534, Peanut Butter 6289, Hummus 4870, Black Beans 3377. Nutrient amounts rounded as per 2016 CFIA labelling rounding rules *Table of Reference Amounts for Food: table-reference-amounts-food/nutrition-labelling.html


Animal-based proteins are also more bioavailable to the body compared to plant-based proteins. Animal-based proteins from foods such as meat, milk and eggs, generally have a high digestibility score – more than 95%, while the digestibility of plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, or pulses tends to be lower, around 80 to 90% and sometimes as low as 50%.2 This is due to plant cell walls and anti-nutritional factors that limit the body’s ability to absorb the nutrient.3

It’s important to eat a variety of protein foods as they each have a unique bundle of beneficial nutrients. Plant-foods champion fibre for example, while animal foods are protein rich.

DYK? Protein claims cannot be made on most plant-based proteins, such as nuts, seeds and legumes. These plant foods don’t meet the label guideline criteria to make a nutrient content claims of ‘excellent source’, ‘very high in’, or ‘rich in’ for protein.4 It is a matter of protein density – or simply put, how much protein is available per serving. Animal food protein sources like eggs and meat are more protein rich than plant-food sources, so you need to eat more servings of plant-sources like nuts, beans and lentils to get the same amount of protein as from meat. This is an especially important consideration for those with smaller appetites like seniors and children.

Meal Planning

Research has shown that protein is best consumed at regular intervals throughout the day. For optimal protein usage by your body, aim to get between 20 – 30 g protein at each meal.5 A 100g portion of cooked beef delivers 35g of protein which makes it a convenient way to achieve one meal’s worth.

Protein + Healthy Aging

Aging well is a challenge. When combined with an active lifestyle, a higher level of protein intake may slow muscle loss, improve bone health, and enhance nutritional status in individuals as they grow older. Read more here…

More is Better

It may surprise you to learn that most of us do not consume too much protein. According to the Institute of Medicine, the acceptable range of intake for protein is 10 to 35% of total daily calories a day for adults.6  The most recent Government of Canada nutrition survey found adults are at the lower end of this range at 17% of calories from protein.7 In fact, according to experts, Canadians would benefit in several ways by actually increasing their protein intake.8 When combined with an active lifestyle, increasing your protein intake has many advantages… Read on…

  1. Hoffman J. R., Falvo M. J. Protein – Which is Best? J Sports Sci Med. 2004 Sep; 3(3): 118–130. Published online 2004 Sep 1.
  2. Schaafsma G. The Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score. J Nutr. 2000;130(7):1865S–1867S.
  3. Elango R., Levesque C., Ball R., Pencharz P. Available versus digestible amino acids – new stable isotope methods. British Journal of Nutrition (2012), 108, S306–S314.
  4. Nutrient Content Claims:
  5. Weiler Nutrition Communications. Unlock the power of protein for strong muscles. 2018 Feb 8.
  6. Institute of Medicine. 2005. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids. National Academy Press.
  7. 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey – Nutrition: Nutrient intakes from food and nutritional supplements.
  8. Phillips, S.M., Chevalier, S., and Leidy, H.J. 2016. Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 41(5).