NutriPro All About Balance – Pick your protein

Friday, June 7, 2019

Protein-foods (e.g. meat) has traditionally been the centre of many dishes. Protein a critical part of a healthy diet, but many protein food sources can also be high in calories and fat, which makes it particularly important to plan appropriate serving sizes when developing main course items that revolve around the protein source.

Dietary guidelines around the world encourage lean, low-fat protein sources, including those that come from plants 1,2.  When choosing the right protein for your recipe, you’ll want to consider many factors, such as flavour and texture, fat content, nutrients, potential allergens, and price.

Planning the plate with protein

The ideal portion for protein is the size of the palm, which represents 25% of the plate. When serving meat, try cutting it into smaller pieces and fanning it across a larger section of the plate. This plating approach can give the perception of abundance without disrupting the guests’ value equation, which will in turn, help them adjust to right-sized portions.

Choices, choices

Each of these foods can provide protein and other nutrients to your guests. However, it’s good to be mindful of the calories, types of fats, other nutritional pros and cons, and environmental consequences of each protein source. Plant-based proteins tend to have a very high nutritional value and low impact on the environment, and they are also aligned with the current trend of eating less meat.

Nutrition facts based on 100g of each food source 3

Food source

EnergyProteinNutritional pros and cons

Kg of protein per hectare of farmland

Beef steak

320 kcal26 gHigh in saturated fat but also high in iron

4 kg/ha / Uses 100x more water than plant protein

Fish220 kcal15gHigh in fats but good source of omega 3

65 kg/ha / Overfishing has long-term effects on sustainable aquaculture

Chicken175 kcal26gLean source of protein when skin is removed

8 kg/ha

Eggs140 kcal13gExcellent source of protein but egg yolks are high in cholesterol

14 kg/ha

Dairy140 kcal3.4gGood source of calcium

15 kg/ha

Legumes115 kcal5gGood source of fibre but not a complete source of protein

35 kg/ha

Soy95 kcal10gComplete source of protein but is a common allergen

65 kg/ha


33 kcal4gGood source of fibre

243 kg/ha



 1 The Chinese Dietary Guidelines. 2016.

 2 Canada’s Food Guide. 2019.

3 USDA Food Composition Databases. 2018.

The Chefs’ Manifesto encourages Chefs to take action and lead by example when it comes to choosing the right protein-sources for their menu.

Read more: Chefs’ Manifesto