Want to add some variety into your diet? Why not try succulent and scrumptiously satisfying, lean pork for a change, a tasty addition to a healthy balanced diet. There are lots of different cuts you can try, from lean pork loin medallions, loin steaks and pork stir-fry strips that will leave your taste buds tingling… it will make feeding the family AND eating healthily a breeze.

Quick and easy to cook, Pork loin medallions and pork fillet trimmed of visible fat, are a low in fat (less than 3% fat) and low in saturated fat (less than 1.5% saturated fat).

Pork is naturally rich in protein and provides nine essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to good health: thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Crispy pork and noodle salad in a bowl

What is protein?

Protein is a nutrient your body needs to grow and repair cells, and to work properly.

Protein is found in a wide range of food and it’s important that you get enough protein in your diet every day. We can divide food sources of protein into two groups: animal protein sources such as meat, dairy, fish and eggs and plant protein sources such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.  Meeting your protein needs is easily achieved from eating a variety of these foods, as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids, 9 of which your body cannot make, and they are known as essential amino acids.  These essential amino acids must be provided in the daily diet.  Your body uses amino acids to make new proteins, such as muscle and bone, and other compounds such as enzymes and hormones. It can also use them as an energy source.

The quality of a protein relates to the proportion of essential and non-essential amino acids they contain. In general, animal-based proteins are of higher quality as they contain higher proportions of essential amino acids compared to plant-based proteins. For people who consume little to no animal-based foods, such as vegans or vegetarians, it is important that they choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods every day to make sure they get an adequate mix of essential amino acids

Cutting the pork loin steak

How much protein should you eat?

How much protein you need from your diet varies depending on your weight, gender, age and health.  A daily intake of 0.75g of protein per kg bodyweight per day for average-weight adults is recommended (equates to around 56g/day for men and ~45g/day for women depending on bodyweight).  This can increase to 1.2 to 2g protein per kg of body weight a day if you’re a regular exerciser or very physically active. Additionally, as we get older, our protein requirements also increase to 1-1.2g protein per kg of body weight.

The average daily intakes of protein in the UK are 76.0g/day for adults aged 19-64 years, and 67.0g/day for adults aged 65 years and over. This is more than sufficient and exceeds the Recommended nutrient intake for protein.

Did you know?

Our bodies become less efficient at processing protein as we grow older, so we need to consume more. After the age of 40, we typically lose around 1% of our muscle mass each year.

Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) show that biggest contributors to protein intakes in the UK are meat and meat products (34%), cereals and cereal products (24%) and milk and milk products (13%). Chicken, turkey (and dishes made of these) alone contribute 16% to protein intakes.

The UK Government Eatwell Guide recommends eating a variety of plant proteins such as beans, pulses and lentils, as well as two portions (140g) of fish per week (one of which should be oily). In relation to red meat, current government advice is that if you eat more than 90g of red or processed meat per day, try to cut down to no more than 70g per day (the current average intake of red and processed meat for adults aged 19-64 years in the UK is 56g/day).

raw pork loin escalopes

How much protein is there in pork?

Like all meat, pork is mostly made up of protein. It is of high quality protein containing all of the essential amino acids.

Amount of protein present per 100g (raw weight pork)

Pork loin medallion , lean (raw)  = 24.8g
Lean diced pork = 23.1g
Pork fillet medallion, lean, raw = 22.8g
Pork leg joint (raw) 23.1g)
Pork loin chop (lean, raw) = 21.3g
Pork mince (raw) 19.2g
Pork loin steak (raw)  23.2g

Black bean stir fry served in a grey bowl with chopsticks.

How much protein should you eat per meal?

As well as the quality of the protein sources we choose , it is also important to think about how its distributed through the day.

Including protein foods at each meal or snack throughout the day is thought to be more effective than having the majority of your protein intake in one meal. In practical terms, this may involve two to three meals, each containing about 20g of protein.

People doing an intensive exercise programme may benefit from consuming protein after a workout, and similarly spacing their intake through the day.

20g protein at each meal is ideal and easy to achieve –

Breakfast idea= Bowl of porridge (50g oats) made with 300ml semi skimmed milk, 20g almonds, blueberries =20g protein

Lunch idea – ham salad sandwich on wholemeal bread = 21.5g protein

Main meal ideapork stir fry with noodles  = 26.8g protein