How Many Grams Of Protein Are Needed Daily
Protein is an essential nutrient important for growth and development in children and for muscle growth, repair and maintenance. Protein is also a structural component of your skin, organs and glands. Consuming too little protein can lead to loss of muscle mass, stunted growth, fatigue and changes in your skin and hair.
If youre overweight or obese, following a high-protein, low-carb diet may help you reduce your calorie intake for weight loss. Your individualized protein requirements are based on your age, gender and activity level.
Protein Preserves Lean Body Mass
In addition, protein has another benefit on weight loss: it helps preserve lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.
One study compared the effect of low protein intake to high protein intake on lean body mass over a short term caloric deficit. On average, the low protein group lost about 1.6 kilograms of muscle mass while the high protein group only lost 0.3 kg of muscle mass .
Another similar study compared 0.8 g/kg per day against 1.6 g/kg per day and 2.4 g/kg per day and found that the two higher intakes spared more lean body mass than the 0.8 g/kg per day diet. They also found that there was no real benefit to 2.4 g/kg per day over 1.6 g/kg per day .
Currently, most evidence suggests that ~1.6 grams of protein per kilogram, or .73 grams of protein per pound is a recommended daily target for protein intake to spare lean body mass loss during periods of weight loss.
You’re A Vegetarian Or Vegan
Eat These Recipes:High-Protein Vegan Recipes
Good news for those forgoing animal products: If you’re eating enough calories, opting for a plant-based diet doesn’t automatically mean you’re not consuming enough protein. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the terms “complete” and “incomplete” protein are misleading. “Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable amino acids when caloric requirements are met,” the Academy said in a 2016 position statement.
Vegetarians and vegans may need to pay a bit more attention to what foods give them the best protein-for-calorie value than the average meat-eater, but eating a varied diet that includes protein-rich legumes and soy will keep your body and muscles humming along just fine.
Other great vegetarian sources of protein: eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, quinoa and peanut butter. See our Top Vegetarian Protein Sources if you need help eating more protein. Vegans, read up on our Top 10 Vegan Protein Sources.
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How To Set Your Protein Intake While Dieting
Heres what we know so far.
- When youre in a caloric deficit, you need to eat more protein than normal to avoid losing muscle mass. The larger your deficit, the more protein you generally need, to a point.
- If youre leaner, you need more protein than overweight or obese people to avoid losing muscle.
- If youre training hard while youre in a caloric deficit, you probably need even more protein than normal to avoid losing muscle.
All of the above factors are also additive. If youre in a large calorie deficit, youre at a low body fat percentage, and youre training hard, youll probably need a lot more protein than the standard RDI.
This doesnt mean more is better for everyone, but lean, dieting athletes almost certainly need more protein than most other people.
Use this chart to estimate your protein needs:
|Medium to large calorie deficit, with progressive training.||2.3-3.1 g/kg|
These values are for your lean body mass, not your total body mass.
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1.Stiegler P, Cunliffe A. The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sports Med. 2006 36:239262. Available at: https://goo.gl/RbLEX.
3.Phillips SM, van Loon LJC. Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011 29 Suppl 1:647654. doi:10.1080/02640414.2011.619204.
Why You Shouldn’t Calculate How Much Protein You Need Based On Total Calories Or Weight
On a simple level, protein guidelines generally fall into one of two camps: a proportion either of how much you eat or how much you weigh. However, both are flawed if youre looking to build muscle fast.
Take only eating a specific percentage of protein. The problem is that the numbers are going to be affected in a big way by your total calorie intake. For example, 30 per cent protein on a 2000-calorie diet is very different from 30 per cent protein on a 4000-calorie diet despite the fact that the percentages are exactly the same: 150g a day compared to 300g a day.
So, calculating your protein intake relative to your weight could be better, as it stays consistent regardless of how many calories you’re packing in.
For example, if you were to eat two grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight, you’ll be fuelling yourself with the same amount of protein regardless of your total daily calorie count whether that’s 1500 or 4000. However, this system is also not without its flaws.
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Is 100 Grams Of Protein Enough To Build Muscle
As stated above, people in general areadvised to consume a minimum of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight or 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, but people who prioritize building muscle should aim for more than that minimum. Although theres not one magic number and recommendations vary by person, theAmerican College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for athletes. Following that general guideline, consuming closer to 1.6 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may be beneficial for bodybuilders and those looking to build muscle or maintain lean body mass. In the average 150-pound adult whos actively strength training or resistance training, that might look like 75-120 grams of protein daily 100 grams being most peoples sweet spot. It has been proposed that muscle protein synthesis is maximized in young adults at a dose of around 2025 grams of a high-quality protein.
You may have concerns that eating too much protein is bad for the kidneys, but 100 grams of protein per day is generally safe for healthy adults. High amounts of protein can be harmful to the kidneys if a person already has kidney issues however, for healthy individuals, consuming around 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram is fine, as noted in a 2010 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
The Amino Acid Profile Varies Between Plant And Animal Proteins
When eaten, protein is broken down into amino acids.
Proteins and amino acids are used for almost every metabolic process in the body.
However, different proteins can vary greatly in the types of amino acids they contain.
While animal proteins tend to contain a good balance of all the amino acids that we need, some plant proteins are low in certain amino acids.
For example, some key plant proteins are often low in methionine, tryptophan, lycine and isoleucine.
All proteins are made up of amino acids, although the amount and type of each amino acid varies based on the protein source.
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Other Circumstances That Can Increase Protein Needs
Regardless of muscle mass and physique goals, those who are physically active need more protein than those who are sedentary.
If your job is physically demanding or you walk a lot, run, swim, or do any sort of exercise, you need to eat more protein.
Endurance athletes also need significant amounts of protein about 0.50.65 grams per pound of body weight (
This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia, both of which are significant problems among older adults.
People recovering from injuries may likewise need more protein .
People who are physically active, as well as older adults and those recovering from injuries, have significantly increased protein requirements.
But Im More Advanced Than These Geeks
Another frequently heard objection is that people need more protein because they are more experienced than the studied populations. Well, Tarnopolsky et al. used elite bodybuilders and found that less protein was needed than in novice bodybuilders.
In fact, the finding that the more experienced you are, the less protein you need, has been replicated in several studies .
In everyone there is both constant protein synthesis and breakdown. Resistance training causes both breakdown and synthesis to increase, normally with a favorable balance towards synthesis. As you progress in your training, the body becomes more efficient at stopping the breakdown of protein resulting from training. Since less protein now needs to be replenished, this increase in nitrogen retention means less protein is subsequently needed for optimal growth.
Secondly, the more advanced you are, the less protein synthesis increases after training. As you become more muscular and you get closer to your genetic limit, less muscle is built after training. This is very intuitive. The slower you can build muscle, the less protein is needed for optimal growth. It wouldnt make any sense if the body needed more protein to build less muscle, especially considering that the body becomes more efficient at metabolizing protein.
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Youre Trying To Lose Weight
Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, helping you feel full, and also pushes your body to secrete the gut hormone peptide YY, which reduces hunger. When you bring protein to about 30% of your daily calories, youll naturally eat less, says Lauren Slayton, RD, founder of Foodtrainers, a nutrition practice in New York City, and author of The Little Book of Thin. Protein decreases appetite and also, in my experience, helps you manage cravings.
While studies are mixed about whether consuming more protein leads to weight loss, research is pretty clear that protein can help you retain more of your lean muscle as you lose fat. One 2011 study suggests amping up protein to as much as 1.8 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day to stave off muscle loss when restricting calories. Cut back on refined carbs to balance out the extra calories from adding protein.
Include A High Protein Food With Every Meal
When it comes to protein, its not just the total amount you take in every day that matters. Getting enough at each meal is also important.
Several researchers recommend consuming a minimum of 2030 grams of protein at each meal.
Studies show that this amount promotes fullness and preserves muscle mass better than smaller amounts eaten throughout the day .
Examples of foods high in protein include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, and soy products like tofu or tempeh.
You can also select foods from this list of delicious high protein foods to make sure you meet your needs at every meal.
Include a high protein food at each meal to get what you need to feel full and maintain muscle mass.
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How Many Grams Of Protein Do You Need Per Kilogram Of Body Weight Then
The science on this simple question is mixed. Our view is based on a review of the science.
If you are an active person or are looking to lose body fat while preserving lean mass or to gain lean mass, a daily intake of 1.22 grams protein per kilogram of bodyweight a day is about right and supported by the current literature.
Below well summarise some of the science and recommendations that helped us arrive at these numbers.
At the low end of the scientific literature 6075g of protein a day is suggested as sufficient according to an early study from Kent State University.
A later study in 2000 from The University of Western Ontario, argues for more protein consumption than that, placing its estimates at around 1.61.8g per kg of bodyweight, while a 2004 study suggests a whopping 3.0g per kg of bodyweight.
Depending on your bodyweight this is a range of around 60 to 250g per day. As you can see, this is quite a spread and most studies note that the right amount depends on your activity levels. As with most things in nutrition, theres no simple answer.
How Many Grams Of Protein Do I Need To Eat Per Day
This answer depends on a few different factors. Are you inactive or active? Do you work out or not? What type of workouts are you doing ? What are your goals ? Are you male or female? How much do you weigh? And more.
So, heres the daily protein recommendations you need to know:
- If you do NOT workout and do NOT have any real diet or fitness related goal , you should eat between 0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. This is what most consider to be the ideal minimum protein intake for overall health and function for the average healthy adult.
- If you DO workout and you DO have some type of diet or fitness related goal , you should eat between 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. This is what most consider to be the ideal protein intake range for healthy adults who exercise regularly and are trying to improve their body in some way.
So, to figure out how much you need, just take your current body weight and multiply it by the recommended range to figure out your ideal daily intake.
For example, a 180lb person who does NOT work out or have any related goals would do 180 x 0.5-0.7 and get 90-126. Meaning, theyd need to eat between 90-126 grams of protein per day in this example.
And a 180lb person who DOES work out and IS trying to build muscle or lose fat would do 180 x 0.8-1.5 and get 144-270. Meaning, theyd need to eat between 144-270 grams of protein per day in this example.
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How Much Protein Should I Eat To Lose Weight
If youre looking to lose weight, eating plenty of protein will be an important part of the equation.
Why is protein important for weight loss?
Think of it this way: protein is the only macronutrient you dont store.
- Carbs are stored as muscle glycogen.
- Fat is stored as body fat.
Your body can use either as a fuel source while its in a calorie deficit.
Not so for protein.
Meaning most of the protein in your body is currently doing a job: building muscle tissue, making enzymes, strengthening bones, etc.
If you dont eat enough protein, your body will turn towards your muscles for its needs.
So if youre not careful when youre losing weight, you could lose muscle AND fat.
Obviously, from a health and physique standpoint, this is not good.
Thats why you need to eat plenty of protein and strength train when youre in a calorie deficit so you lose fat while retaining your hard-earned muscle mass.
The other important point about protein and fat loss: protein will help you stay full.
If youre trying to lose weight, keeping your hunger at bay will be critical. Luckily, studies have found that those on a high-protein diet tend to eat fewer calories overall.
If you cant seem to lose weight, start eating plenty of protein!
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Tips For Further Personalization 22
- Adjust the protein portions up or down as needed, but dont be concerned about hitting an exact target. Remember, your ideal protein range is pretty broad, and you should feel completely free to vary the amount you eat by 30 grams or even more from day to day. If you are lower in protein one day, try to add extra the following day.
- If youre an intermittent faster, you may want to increase the protein portions at the two meals you eat somewhat. For instance, in the 70-gram example above, either eat larger portions of fish at lunch and chicken at dinner, or add hard-boiled eggs at lunch and have a piece of cheese after dinner.
- If you eat one meal per day it may be a challenge to get adequate protein intake. Consider eating OMAD a few times per week, with higher protein intake on the other days. Or, if you prefer the consistency of OMAD every day, consider eating within a 2-hour time window. That allows you to eat your meal and still have time to snack on nuts, cheese, or meats to increase your protein.
- Eat nuts and seeds at meals or as snacks. Keep in mind that they provide about 2-6 grams of protein per quarter cup or 30 grams . But beware, they contain some carbs and lots of fat calories, which can add up quickly. Therefore, being cautious with nut intake is a good idea for most people, especially if youre trying to lose weight.
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Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Older Adults
Sarcopenia is a muscle disorder. It is defined as an impairment of physical function combined with a loss of muscle mass. It is the primary age-related cause of frailty.
Frailty is associated with a higher risk of disabilities that affect your ability to perform daily activities, a higher risk of having to go to a nursing home, and a higher risk of experiencing falls, fractures, and hospitalizations.
The link between sarcopenia, frailty, and associated morbidities may explain why sarcopenia is associated with a greater risk of premature death and reduced quality of life. This isnt a rare issue, either: in the US, over 40% of men and nearly 60% of women over the age of 50 have sarcopenia, and more than 10% of people in their 20s.
Reference: Janssen et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2002.
Fortunately, sarcopenia is neither inevitable nor irreversible some seniors have built more muscle in their old age than they ever had in their youth. The older you get, though, the greater your muscles anabolic resistance , and so the greater the protein intake and exercise volume youll need to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Notably, doubling protein intake from 0.8 to 1.6 g/kg has been shown to significantly increase lean body mass in elderly men. Similar observations have been made in elderly women who increase their protein intake from 0.9 to 1.4 g/kg. Even a small increase in protein intake from 1.0 to 1.3 g/kg has minor benefits towards lean mass and overall body composition.