Turkey: The Great Canadian Power Protein

Are you getting enough protein to optimize your health? Many Canadians aren’t! Results from the newest Canadian Community Health Survey suggest that many Canadians might not be getting enough protein for best health.

The latest survey found that Canadian adults are getting 17% of total daily calories from protein; teens are getting almost 16%.

Adult intake is within the range of the 10 to 35% of calories from protein recommended by the Institute of Medicine for basic health. And teens are within the 10 to 30% range; however, for both groups, that’s still only half way to the higher end of the range.

So why is that important, you might be asking?

There’s increasing agreement among health professionals that you should be up at that higher end of the protein range – from kids to older adults – for better health.

Here’s why:

  • Protein is important for rapidly developing kids and teens; their bodies need protein for growth and repair of muscles and tissues.
  • Protein supports a healthy immune system and can help you to feel energized and satisfied.
  • Starting in your 40’s or 50’s, you slowly begin to lose lean muscle; high protein intake, combined with activity, can help maintain muscle so that you stay strong and healthy as you age.
  • Higher protein intake, along with activity, helps you maintain lean muscle (more muscle means more calorie burning capacity) and regulate your appetite – both are important to help manage a healthy weight…at any age!

Mounting evidence shows that about 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal is what you should aim for. Protein coming from snacks would be on top of that.

How can you make sure you get enough protein?

Plan to include at least one protein-rich food at each meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and snack.

Protein is found in a variety of nutritious foods. You can easily get quality protein from traditional sources such as poultry (e.g. turkey), lean meat (e.g. beef, pork), eggs, dairy (e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt), and fish. For example, each 75-gram serving of nutrient-rich turkey has about 25 grams of high quality lean protein – exactly what’s recommended for your meal!

You can also get protein from plant-based sources such as pulses (e.g. lentils, chickpeas), nuts, seeds, soy (e.g. tofu) and whole grains (e.g. oats, quinoa). Vegetables and fruit generally don’t provide a lot of protein.

Here’s a look at the protein content of some common foods. As you can see, the traditional sources of protein tend to also be higher in protein per serving, compared to plant-based sources.


Traditional and Plant-Based Foods * Amount of protein (in grams)
75 grams turkey breast 25
75 grams pork chop 20
75 grams salmon (Atlantic, farmed) 17
¾ cup (175 ml) lentils 13
2 eggs 12
150 grams (3/4 cup/175ml) tofu (firm) 12
¾ cup (175 ml) chickpeas 11
¾ cup Greek yogurt (plain) 17
50 grams cheddar cheese 12
1 cup (250 ml) 2% milk 8.5
¼ cup (60 ml) almonds 8
2 tbsp (30 ml) peanut butter 7
½ cup (12 ml) quinoa 4

* Canada’s Food Guide serving

Are you new to turkey for breakfast?

You can probably name a dozen delicious ways to include turkey – the power protein – at lunch and dinner, but what about breakfast? Turkey is truly an ideal breakfast choice! Think outside your usual breakfast bowl and try one of these power-packed breakfasts featuring turkey:

  • Turkey Lentil Frittata: Leftover turkey pairs perfectly with eggs in this quick breakfast idea. Make it on the weekend, store in the fridge and just heat up a piece on a hectic weekday morning.
  • Hearty Turkey Lentil Breakfast Bowl: Filled with turkey sausage, lentils and veggies, and topped with an egg, this breakfast bowl will power you through the morning.

Stay tuned for November’s newsletter post where we’ll take a look at turkey works in tandem with plant-based proteins to boost the nutritional bang for your buck.