How Many Grams Of Protein Per Pound

Does Incomplete Protein Count Towards Your Daily Total

How do I calculate the amount of protein I need to build muscle?

Back in the day, proteins used to be classed as either complete or incomplete.

A complete protein is a food that supplies all eight essential amino acids in sufficient amounts to maintain tissue and support growth. With few exceptions, single foods containing complete proteins come from animal sources such as milk, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

An incomplete protein usually found in plant sources such as grains and vegetables is low in one or more of the essential amino acids.

The term complete protein is something of a misnomer. Thats because almost every source of dietary protein contains all of the essential amino acids. Some foods are just lower in certain amino acids than others.

From The Protein Book by Lyle McDonald:

Rather than thinking in terms of complete or incomplete, it then becomes more valuable to talk about dietary proteins in terms of having a limiting amino acid.

This is defined as the amino acid that is found in the lowest proportion to what is required by the body. The amount of this limiting amino acid will determine, to a great degree, how well that protein is used by the body.

A common example is that grains are low in the amino acid lysine but high in methionine while beans are low in methionine and high in lysine. So the limiting amino acid in grains is found in ample supply in legumes and vice versa.

But thats not entirely true.

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How Much Protein To Build Muscle Ask An Rd

The main building blocks of your body,protein is used to repair and maintain your body tissues including muscle.

If your goal is to build muscle, then its important that youre getting the right amount of protein, as well as the right amounts of the other macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats.

The general strategy for calculating the minimum amount of protein that you need is 0.36 grams of protein per pound that you weigh. In a 165-pound adult, thats about 60 grams of protein per day.

But thats just the minimum recommended daily allowance .

You might be wondering if the minimum amount of protein recommended is enough to actually build more muscle. Below, well explore just how much protein you should consume per day to build muscle .

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Protein Intake How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day

Few nutrients are as important as protein. Not getting enough of it will affect your health and body composition.

However, opinions regarding how much protein you need vary.

Most official nutritional organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake.

The DRI is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

This amounts to:

  • 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man
  • 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman

This may be enough to prevent deficiency, but the amount you need depends on many factors, including your activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals, and overall health.

This article examines the optimal amounts of protein and how lifestyle factors like weight loss, muscle building, and activity levels factor in.

Proteins are the main building blocks of your body. Theyre used to make muscles, tendons, organs, and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various molecules that serve many important functions.

Proteins consist of smaller molecules called amino acids, which link together like beads on a string. These linked amino acids form long protein chains, which then fold into complex shapes.

Your body produces some of these amino acids, but you must obtain others known as essential amino acids via your diet.

Protein is not only about quantity but also quality.

If youre eating animal products like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy every day, youre likely getting enough protein.

Protein is important when it comes to losing weight.

How Protein Supports Your Muscles

Protein by @iqphysique96

Protein is made up of amino acids that act as building blocks for your bodys cells and tissues, including muscle mass. Meaning, your muscle is made up of protein.

These amino acids are essential for supporting numerous bodily functions. If you arent getting the required nutrients – like amino acids – through food, your body doesnt have what it needs and has to compromise. This involves stealing amino acids that are stored in your body which can lead to muscle loss over time.

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How Much Protein For People Over 50

Its also worth remembering that its harder to gain muscle as you age. You already knew that, but this anabolic resistance means that protein requirements may increase if you want to keep up muscle protein synthesis.

Two studies, published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition and Nutrition & Metabolism, looked at men with an average age of 71 and found that they required larger servings of protein when compared to younger guys to get the same muscle protein synthesis. It was suggested while younger folks can trigger it with 20-ish grams of protein, older guys may want to ensure theyre eating at least 40 grams.

And when it comes to overall daily intake?

Between 1.2 and 1.6 grams per pound of bodyweight seems to be sufficient, thats where the evidence stands right now, says St. Pierre. Its pretty much a good catchall for any age but at 50 and over, 1.6 grams per pound is particularly important because you start losing muscle mass once you hit your thirties. If you exercise and eat the level of protein were talking about, itll help attenuate that muscle loss.

So the overall daily intake may not change all that much, but it appears that larger meals may be a better idea as you age.

What Grams Of Protein Really Means

This is a very common area of misunderstanding.

In nutrition science, grams of protein refers to the number of grams of the macronutrient protein, not the number of grams of a protein-containing food like meat or eggs.

An 8-ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams but only contains 61 grams of protein. Similarly, a large egg weighs 46 grams but only packs 6 grams of protein.

If youre at a healthy weight, dont lift weights, and dont exercise much, aiming for 0.360.6 grams per pound is a reasonable estimate.

This amounts to:

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Does Protein Have Any Negative Health Effects

Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems.

Some people believe that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis, but science does not support these claims.

Though protein restriction is helpful for people with preexisting kidney problems, theres no evidence that protein can cause kidney damage in healthy people (

31 ).

Overall, theres no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to optimize their health.


Protein does not have any negative effects on kidney function in healthy people, and studies show that it leads to improved bone health.

The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products, as they have all the essential amino acids that your body needs.

Some plants are fairly high in protein as well, such as quinoa, legumes, and nuts.

However, most people generally dont need to track their protein intake.

If youre healthy and trying to stay that way, simply eating quality protein sources with most of your meals, along with nutritious plant foods, should bring your intake to an optimal range.

Does Your Diet Support Your End Goal

Body Weight Explained: Nutrition Grams (Protein, etc) Per Pound

My end goal is to structure my nutrition and training so I never have to stress about it and can eat whatever I want whenever I want.

Im not telling or forcing anyone to follow the 0.5g protein rule.

But if youve been stressed about hitting your protein numbers, dont care about being the most muscular person in the room, and want 10x more freedom with your diet, then give this shot.

It wont kill ya.

If you do try it out, let me know how it goes in the comments.

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The Best Protein Powder For Maximum Absorption

Lets face it, sometimes we need a quick high protein snack during the day to help us hit our daily protein requirements. Using a protein powder supplement can do exactly that.

Plus, protein powder is absorbed more rapidly than protein consumed alongside foods that contain fiber.

Basically, its a win-win.

However, all protein is not created equal. Youll want to choose a high-quality protein powder that your body can quickly utilize for processes such as muscle protein synthesis.

Next up, well discuss the difference between animal and plant based protein powder.

Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Pregnant Women

The protein RDA for pregnant women is 1.1 g/kg. This value was estimated by adding three values:

  • The RDA for a healthy adult

  • The amount of additional body protein a pregnant woman accumulates

  • The amount of protein used by the developing fetus

However, as we saw previously with non-pregnant healthy adults, the RDA may not be sufficient, let alone optimal. Theres some IAAO evidence that the RDA for pregnant women should be about 1.66 g/kg during early gestation and 1.77 g/kg during late gestation . Moreover, a meta-analysis of 16 intervention studies reported that protein supplementation during pregnancy led to reduced risks for the baby:

  • 34% lower risk of low gestational weight

  • 32% lower risk of low birth weight

  • 38% lower risk of stillbirth

This effect was more pronounced in undernourished women than in adequately nourished women. Importantly, these values were determined from sedentary women carrying one child, meaning that pregnant women who engage in regular physical activity or are supporting the growth of more than one child may need even higher amounts.

Also, keep in mind that we can only tell you what the studies reported we cant possibly know about your health and your pregnancy specifically. Please be sure to consult with your obstetrician/gynecologist before making any changes.

Optimal daily protein intake for pregnant women

Body weight

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Could Eating Too Much Protein Be Dangerous

Theres research suggesting that too much protein can leave you dehydrated and may increase your risk for gout, kidney stones, and osteoporosis, as well as some forms of cancer. But studies have also shown that too much of anything, from vitamins to water, can be bad for your health. The bottom line? Excess carbs and fat are still associated with health risks, but the success of high-protein diets is no excuse to scarf down a whole pig or an entire side of beef. Keep your appetite in check, though, and a high-protein diet should not negatively impact your health.

Wtf So How Much Protein Can The Body Absorb

Protein: The Good, the Bad, and How Much We Really Need ...

After taking a look at the presented studies, the average amount of protein your body can absorb in one sitting ranges from 20-25 grams of protein.

Although the results remain mixed on the exact amount of protein that is needed at each meal, most seem to agree that protein should be spread out during the day to support a healthy lifestyle and enhance muscle building benefits.

Keep this in mind and make sure to evenly space your protein out among a minimum of four meals per day and avoid cramming protein in during one sitting.

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Protein Calculator: How Much Protein Do I Need

Determining how much protein to eat per day is important for any lifter, athlete, or person, period! Here’s the number to aim for to build muscle, lose weight, and support your exercise goals.


The amount of protein you need depends on a number of factors, including your weight, age, goals, and activity level. The daily minimum recommended by the National Institutes of Health is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight for a sedentary person. However, if you do intense workouts, have a physically demanding job, or both, experts say you may need moreâperhaps as much as double.

This calculator will tell you how much protein to eat each day based on your specific body and lifestyle. Dial in this nutritional priority to take control of your nutrition and nail your goals!

Keeps You Feeling Full

Enjoying a high protein breakfast is a great strategy for those looking to curb cravings and promote feelings of fullness between meals.

According to one study in 15 people, consuming a high protein breakfast was more effective than consuming a high carb breakfast at reducing levels of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating feelings of hunger .

Another small study in 19 people showed that doubling protein intake led to significant reductions in calorie intake and body weight .

Protein may also improve blood sugar control, which can help decrease symptoms of low blood sugar, including hunger .

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Guidelines For Special Populations

Many sources that suggest protein guidelines provide numbers for adult men and women. But there are certain populations that may need more or less protein to manage a medical condition or facilitate growth.

  • Pregnant and lactating people need more protein than people who are not pregnant .
  • Older adults may need more protein than middle-aged adults .
  • People with liver or kidney disease need to decrease protein intake .

Consult a doctor or dietitian to determine your ideal daily protein goal.

Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Lactating Women

do you need a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight?

As with pregnancy, there is little research investigating how lactation and breastfeeding affect protein requirements. Women produce a wide range of breast milk volumes, regardless of their energy status . The infants demands appear to be the primary regulator of milk production.

Based simply on adult protein requirements plus the protein output in breast milk, the RDA for lactating women was set at 1.3 g/kg. However, one study reported that half of the lactating women consuming 1.5 g/kg were in negative nitrogen balance, while another study suggested that 1.01.5 g/kg leads to a rapid downregulation of protein turnover suggestive of an adaptive response to insufficient intake.

Considering the lack of data on the effects of a protein intake greater than 1.5 g/kg in lactating women and that consuming 1.5 g/kg or less leads to adaptations suggestive of insufficient intake, lactating women should aim to consume at least 1.5 g/kg of protein daily.

Optimal daily protein intake for lactating women

Body weight

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What Happens If I Dont Get All The Protein I Need Will My Muscles Shrink

Absolutely not. If youre eating an appropriate amount of protein in general, an occasional low-protein day will not affect muscle growth. The only reasons muscles would get smaller are from lack of use, injury, or severe calorie restriction.

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Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Athletes

If youre physically active regularly, you need more protein daily than if you were sedentary. The American College of Sports Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Dietitians of Canada recommend 1.22.0 g/kg to optimize recovery from training and to promote the growth and maintenance of lean mass when caloric intake is sufficient. This recommendation is similar to that of the International Society of Sports Nutrition : 1.42.0 g/kg.

Importantly, it may be better to aim for the higher end of the above ranges. According to the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date on the effects of protein supplementation on muscle mass and strength, the average amount of protein required to maximize lean mass is about 1.6 g/kg, and some people need upwards of 2.2 g/kg. Those of you interested in a comprehensive breakdown of this study will find one in NERD #34 .

However, only 4 of the 49 included studies were conducted in people with resistance training experience . IAAO studies in athletes found different numbers: on training days, female athletes required 1.41.7 g/kg the day following a regular training session, male endurance athletes required 2.12.7 g/kg two days after their last resistance-training session, amateur male bodybuilders required 1.72.2 g/kg.

Since higher protein intakes seem to have no negative effects in healthy people, one may want to err toward the higher amounts. For most athletes , the ISSN range will work well:

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The 1g/lb Myths Origin

Why is it then that many people say you need to consume 1g/lb? Aside from the facts that there dont need to be any good reasons for why people believe in a myth, that myths tend to perpetuate themselves via conformism and tradition, and that the fitness industry is flooded with myths, here are some plausible grounds for the confusion.

People copy the dietary practices of pro bodybuilders on androgens. Steroids enable you to build muscle protein far more rapidly than natural trainees. People based their recommendations on the flawed nitrogen balance studies back from when the world was still flat. The more is better heuristic. There are so many studies showing protein is good for you, its hard not to think more of it is even better. Supplement companies have an obvious financial incentive to make you want to believe you need more protein than you really do. There are actually several industry-sponsored studies showing absolutely miraculous benefits of consuming more protein . People cant be bothered with decimals and just round up to the nearest convenient integer, which so happens to be an easy to remember 1.

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