What Is Protein's Function And How Much Do You Need?

You’ve probably been told that you need protein in your diet to build muscle, lose weight, or even maintain a healthy lifestyle. You know you need protein. But exactly how much should you eat each day? And why do we even need it to begin with?

We’ve made a fun animated video to answer your questions about protein and show you why Sunwarrior’s protein powder is made to help you run the extra mile, lose those pounds, feel more energetic, and reach your health goals.

You’ll learn in this article and the video below:  

  • What protein is and it' s function in the body
  • How much protein you need daily to build muscle, lose weight, or achieve your health goals
  • What foods contain protein
  • How to get enough protein if you eat a plant-based or vegan diet
  • And why Sunwarrior protein powders give you the nutrients to live your best life

What Is Protein?

Protein is the most abundant molecule, apart from water, in our bodies. You always think of muscle when you talk about protein or about their components, amino acids, but these essential little building blocks are found in every cell and tissue throughout the body.

Protein facilitates the digestion and absorption of nutrients. It acts as a cell's hands to grab and carry those nutrients into their interiors, and it removes waste and toxins. It even goes into hormones our bodies use to balance and regulate hundreds of systems and functions, from blood sugar to emotions.

Protein combines with vitamins and minerals to do even more. Protein can move oxygen from the lungs and to cells that desperately need it to survive, act as antioxidants (cleaning up free radicals that do cellular damage and contribute to cancer and aging), and aid the immune system in recognizing and removing threats to our health and wellness.

The body synthesizes proteins from amino acids, forming them into long chains. The chains can then twist and fold into unique shapes with practically endless possibilities and combinations in form and function. The bonds in these chains make protein very strong, flexible, and elastic (like a spring) perfect for both muscles and enzymes that need to move, shift, and react.


The Effects of Too Much Protein

You probably think about needing protein in your diet and try to make sure you have enough. But you may not realize that too much protein can actually be harmful to your body.

Since the body doesn't store amino acids, you do need a daily supply of protein. Excessive protein bogs down digestion, can supply way more calories than we need, and does damage to the liver and kidneys.

High protein fad diets such as the Atkins diet promise to help you lose weight but can actually be working against your body. Though high protein diets may temporarily help you shed pounds, excess protein will eventually be stored as fat, and the leftover amino acids are excreted. This effect actually leads to weight gain over time.

Also, when you eat too much protein, you can seriously wreck your body’s natural bowel movements. High protein levels can lead to constipation or diarrhea especially when you forget to add enough fiber to your diet.

Your kidneys also have to work in overdrive when you flood your system with protein. Because of the amount of nitrogen found in the amino acids from protein, your kidneys have to work harder to get rid of the excess uric acid.

Another reason to keep your eye on the amount of protein you eat is because high-protein, meat-based diets have even been linked to cancer in scientific studies. It is connected to breast, colon, prostate, and other cancers.

The Effects of Not Enough Protein

Not getting enough protein is also a problem. Too little protein makes you weak and more susceptible to disease and illness. Don’t worry about not knowing though. Your body will tell you when you aren’t getting enough protein.

Low levels of protein can result in you having a slow metabolism, difficulty building muscle mass, low energy to no energy, brain fog and trouble concentrating, and a weak immune system among others. You may even notice that your hair will start thinning and bruises and cuts may take an exceptionally long time to heal.

However, true protein deficiency is rare in the United States and other first world nations. Protein is found in a variety of vegetables, grains, beans, and legumes.

Usually, when someone is protein deficient, it is because of a lack of food in general. So, essentially you need to be starving yourself and constricting your food intake rather than simply not consuming enough protein-rich foods.

Nevertheless, when you first start eating plant-based meals, it can be confusing to determine what to eat and how much to ensure that you are receiving enough protein. Even if you aren’t making the switch to a vegan diet, when you make any changes to your diet, be sure that you do research on getting enough nutrients for your body.

The Recommended Amount of Protein

Your body typically requires 10–15% of your diet to be protein rich. As a general requirement, it is recommended that women consume at least 52 grams of protein each day. Men should strive to eat 63 grams daily.

However, this percentage changes based on how active you are, your gender, and your height. The RDA advocates for 0.38 grams of protein for each pound that you weigh.

If you’re an athlete, you probably think that consuming a surplus of protein is necessary to build muscle … and you’re now thinking, “So how should I eat for my active lifestyle?” Dylan Falduto, an athlete and one of our writers, explains how he eats for plant-based strength.

What Plant-Based Foods Have Protein?

Many people believe that protein is found solely in meat and dairy products. So, you’ve probably heard a friend or family member say to you, “Oh I could never be vegan. I need protein in my diet.” It may be surprising, but nearly ALL plant foods contain protein.

So, a plant-based diet can meet your daily protein requirement as long as you eat a varied diet. Of course, this is true for everyone regardless of their dietary choices. If you only eat bananas or popcorn or a constrictive diet, your body can’t get all the nutrients it needs. Our article The Color of Your Nutrition shows why eating a wide-ranging diet is so important.

Though nearly all plant foods contain protein, some foods contain more protein than others. Here’s a short list of plant-based foods that contain higher levels of protein:

1. Seitan 

Seitan is a meat replacement that contains a whopping 25 grams of protein per serving. It is made from gluten, the protein found in wheat, so avoid this food if you have any gluten sensitivities.

Tofu, a protein source that is made from soybeans, is considered a whole source of protein. This label means that the protein source offers your body all of the essential amino acids that it can not produce on its own.

There have been some studies that record the possibility that soy products can harm some women’s hormonal balance, so be sure that tofu is the right choice for your body

2. Tofu, Edamame, Tempeh

3. Lentils and Beans

Lentils provide as much as 18 grams of protein per serving. Beans contain around 15 grams per serving. However, different kinds of beans offer larger quantities of protein than others.

Both beans and lentils are also exceptional sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, folate, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.

Nutritional yeast is often used as a replacement for cheese and cheese products. Its natural cheesy flavor makes is delicious in any meal. For every ounce of nutritional yeast, it provides 14 grams of Protein.

4. Nutritional Yeast

5. Quinoa

Quinoa is an ancient grain and has a higher protein content than other grains. Quinoa contains 8–9 grams of protein for every cooked cup.

You can implement quinoa easily in your diet by making power bowls. These are full of excellent nutrients and easy to make. Check out one of our Quinoa Bowls recipes to find out how to make a meal.

These five plant-based, protein-rich sources are only a few of many. We have more information about plant proteins in our article 8 Great Sources for Plant Proteins. This article is great for new vegans or vegetarians, but you can still add these foods to your diet for additional nutrients outside of animal protein.

Why Sunwarrior Protein Powders Give Your Body What It Needs

The Right Amount of Protein

Sunwarrior strives to provide a clean, healthy amount of quality protein with a balanced amino acid profile, not too much, not too little. Our protein powders contain 19 to 25 grams of protein. Perfect for a meal’s serving of protein.

Raw and Undamaged By Heat

Sunwarrior’s protein is also raw, undamaged by heat, and ready for maximum absorption. Heat breaks the bonds that hold the twists and folds together, destroying any of the abilities that protein might have once held.

Many of the enzymes we eat in whole foods help break down other proteins during digestion and also make many vitamins and minerals easier to absorb, but cooking can remove these benefits.

Heat can also create cross bonding between proteins where denatured chains randomly link to other chains. These cross bound proteins are harder to digest and put to use, so many of the amino acids are lost, discarded as waste.

Find out more on why we founded Sunwarrior based on the amazing benefits of raw food here.

Perfect for Those with Allergies and Sensitivities

Sunwarrior can be easily added to your vegan protein smoothies for the best plant-based amino acids followed by amazing performance and recovery without the downsides of bloating, gas, gluten, denatured proteins, allergens, or phytoestrogens that can be found in whey, casein, and soy.

If you struggle with gluten intolerance, asthma, lactose intolerance, or other allergies, give our protein powders a try. You won’t be disappointed. We’ve heard back from our customers, and they feel great. Sunwarrior protein will give you energy that lasts.

Great Taste

We care about the taste because it matters. You don’t want to chug a swampy mud-colored smoothie, and we don’t want you to have to. Get your daily required amount of protein but enjoy it, too.

Our protein powders come in a variety of flavors—NOT just vanilla and chocolate:

Warrior Blend

This protein is available in Berry, Chocolate, Vanilla, Mocha, and Natural. Specifically made for building muscle, Warrior Blend will help you crush your workouts and keep your muscles strong.


We made this protein to help your body recover after a workout or for someone who simply needed an easy way to integrate more protein into their diet. The protein is offered in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Natural.

Classic Plus

Labeled our best tasting, this protein powder is explicitly formulated with your taste buds in mind. The protein also comes from a variety of sources such as quinoa, brown rice, pea protein, amaranth, and chia. It is available in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Natural.f

For more information about how our proteins differ, check out our FAQ page.


You’ve probably seen her videos on YouTube. Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, better known as Fully Raw Kristina, joined us at Sunwarrior’s headquarters to show us how she makes one of her favorite smoothies with Sunwarrior protein.

Check out her video on how to make a Cherry Banana Chocolate Protein Smoothie on our YouTube channel.  

Or for more information about Kristina’s journey from hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes to living a fulfilling and fruitful holistic life, check out our interview with her.


There is so much more to a holistic lifestyle than eating the correct amount of protein. When you start your journey to healthier living, there seems to be so much information to weed through. It can be confusing and difficult to determine what you should focus on first.

That’s why we developed a short 15 Point Guide For Essential Health. Take charge of your own health. With a little help, you’ll be living a healthier more fulfilling life in no time.

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Author: Natalie Bohin

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