• PEI

Turkey Protein Primer

Turkey is packed with protein! Each 100-gram serving of turkey has about 30 grams of high quality protein to help you feel energized and satisfied and to help keep your muscles healthy and happy.

What is protein?

Protein is a macronutrient (meaning your body needs a lot of it) that is key for overall good health; it is a main building block in your body and it’s part of every cell. Protein is also used as fuel (energy) to maintain basic body functions.

Protein is made up of smaller parts called amino acids. Think of amino acids as individual train cars that link together to make up a train. There are 20 amino acids that are combined in various ways to make up different proteins.

Nine of those amino acids are essential, meaning that your body either can’t make them, or can’t make them in the amounts you need. That means that you have to get these essential amino acids from food. The remaining 11 amino acids come from food but can also be made in the body.

Animal foods, like turkey, have all nine essential amino acids in amounts that your body needs, so they are called “complete” proteins and are considered high quality.

Why do you need protein?

Protein-containing foods are an important part of a nutritious diet. You might know that protein is important for building healthy muscles, but it’s so much more!

Check out some of the essential functions of protein:

  • Protein builds, maintains and repairs all the cells in your body.
  • It plays a vital role in keeping your immune system healthy.
  • Protein is used to make enzymes, hormones and other compounds you need for health.
  • Protein is also used to fuel your body, especially when you don’t get enough calories from carbohydrates or fat.

How much protein do you need every day?

The Recommended Daily Intake for protein for adults is 0.8g/kg.  For a person weighing about 70 kg/154 lbs. for example, that would be 56 grams/2 ounces of protein. This amount is based on the minimal amount of protein needed to sustain body functions and prevent deficiency. However, mounting evidence suggests that for optimal health, you need more protein than previously thought. In fact, for additional health benefits research suggests you eat about 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal. A 100-gram serving of turkey gives you about 30 grams of high quality protein.

What health benefits can protein provide?

A higher protein diet can help optimize health benefits such as muscle building, healthy aging, and weight management.

  1. Protein is a muscle booster. Protein helps build and maintain lean muscle mass to keep you strong.

Protein Power Tip: Eating a snack with high quality protein (e.g. turkey, Greek yogurt, eggs) within two hours after exercise can help maximize muscle repair and growth so you’re ready to hit the gym, soccer field, hilly hiking trails or hot yoga studio again.


  1. Protein helps keep you strong as you age. A higher intake of high quality protein is recommended to maintain muscle health (we slowly lose muscle) and keep you strong as you age.

Protein Power Tip: Most of us load up on protein at dinner, but we don’t get enough at breakfast. Try stirring leftover turkey into a frittata, wrapping up ground turkey in a breakfast burrito or enjoying turkey sausages along side your eggs.


  1. Protein helps with weight management. Getting enough protein can also boost calorie burning; a high protein intake preserves muscle mass while you lose weight. And that helps with weight management because lean muscle mass burns more calories (energy) than body fat.

Protein Power Tip: Protein can help crush cravings. Eating protein at meals can help you to feel satisfied/full longer (i.e. satiety) and that can help you control your appetite and manage munchies.

What are some food sources of protein?

Protein is found in varying amounts in all sorts of foods; however, it’s especially high in animal products such as turkey, eggs, fish, and Greek yogurt. Plant foods such as tofu, nuts and seeds and pulses (e.g. chickpeas, black beans) are also high in protein.

With 30 grams of high quality protein per 100-gram serving, enjoying turkey at your meals is an easy (and delicious) way to help meet your protein needs.

Quality counts – hooray for turkey!

Protein is not just about quantity; quality also counts! And that’s good news for turkey lovers! Emerging research suggests that protein from animal sources, like turkey, is especially good at promoting lean muscle and improving satiety.

Not only is turkey an excellent source of high quality protein, but also it’s lean and nutrient-rich (meaning it has a whole lot of nutrients per calorie). Every bite of turkey is filled with health-boosting nutrients such as:

  • iron (to deliver oxygen through your body)
  • zinc (for a healthy immune system)
  • selenium (an antioxidant mineral)

As a protein-rich food, turkey is a nutritional powerhouse. And that’s why we call it the Power Protein.



Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes: the essential guide to nutrient requirements. Washington: National Academies Press, 2006.
Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File, version 2010.
Gilbert JA et al. Effects of proteins from different sources on body composition. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Sep;21 Suppl 2:B16-31.
Phillips SM, Chevalier S, Leidy HJ. Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016;41(5):565-572.
Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Position of the Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine.  Feb 2016 (rev Dec 2016). Available from: www.dietitians.ca/sports
Yang D et al. Acute effects of high-protein versus normal-protein isocaloric meals on satiety and ghrelin. Eur J Nutr. 2014;53(2):499-500.