What Does Protein Do In Your Body
Protein is a major component of every cell in your body. After you eat protein, it is broken down into individual amino acids, which are incorporated into your muscles and other tissues.
These are just a few of proteins important functions:
- Muscle repair and growth. The protein in your muscles is normally broken down and rebuilt on a daily basis, and a fresh supply of amino acids is needed for muscle protein synthesis, the creation of new muscle. Consuming adequate dietary protein helps prevent muscle loss, and when coupled with resistance training promotes muscle growth.4
- Maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, and bones as well as our internal organs. Although the protein turnover in these structures occurs more slowly than in muscle, new amino acids are required to replace those that become old and damaged over time.
- Creation of hormones and enzymes. Many of the hormones necessary for life including insulin and growth hormone are also proteins. Likewise, most enzymes in the human body are proteins. Your body depends on a continuous supply of amino acids to make these vital compounds.
In addition, both clinical experience and scientific studies suggest that getting enough protein can help make weight control easier. This might be because protein can reduce appetite and prevent overeating by triggering hormones that promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction.5 Your body also burns more calories digesting protein compared to fat or carbs.6
How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day
As with most things in nutrition, theres no simple answer. Your ideal intake of calories and protein depends on your health, body composition, main goal, and the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of your physical activity. And even taking all this into account, youll end up with a starting number, which youll need to adjust through self-experimentation.
Tip: Calculating your caloric needs
Your height, weight, age, and level of physical activity all contribute to your caloric needs. There are many calorie calculators out there, but the NIH Body Weight Planner stands out. It has been tested and validated against real-world data and can estimate the number of calories you need to reach then maintain a specific weight.
Calorie-wise, there are only three types of diets:
Daily protein requirements are expressed in grams, either per kilogram of body weight or per pound of body weight . Ranges in the table below reflect known individual variances.
Maintenance: eucaloric diet | Muscle gain: eucaloric diet or hypercaloric diet | Fat loss: hypocaloric diet | * Grams per kilogram of body weight
Also, note that
Protein intake should be based on body weight, not on caloric intake.
Most studies have looked at dosages up to 1.5 g/kg only a few have looked at dosages as high as 2.23.3 g/kg. However, in healthy people, even those higher dosages dont seem to have negative effects.
Tip: Calculating your protein needs
What Is Protein Deficiency
Protein deficiency is when your intake is unable to meet your bodys requirements.
An estimated one billion people worldwide suffer from inadequate protein intake .
The problem is especially severe in Central Africa and South Asia, where up to 30% of children get too little protein from their diet .
Certain people in developed countries are also at risk. This includes people who follow an imbalanced diet, as well as institutionalized older people and hospitalized patients .
While true protein deficiency is uncommon in the Western world, some people get very low amounts from their diet.
Too little protein may cause changes in body composition that develop over a long period of time, such as muscle wasting.
The most severe form of protein deficiency is known as kwashiorkor. It most often occurs in children in developing countries where famine and imbalanced diets are common.
Protein deficiency can affect almost all aspects of body function. As a result, it is associated with many symptoms.
Some of these symptoms may start to occur even when protein deficiency is marginal. They are listed below, along with some typical symptoms of kwashiorkor.
Summary: Protein deficiency is when people do not get adequate amounts of protein from their diet. Kwashiorkor, its most severe form, is most commonly seen in children in developing countries.
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Protein Grams Per Day
As an alternative to the percentage approach, you can target a specific number of protein grams per day. One simple way to get a range of protein grams per day is to translate the percent range into a specific protein gram range. The math is easy.
Each gram of protein contains four calories. Simply divide the two calorie range numbers by four. Someone who eats 2,000 calories per day should consume 200 to 700 calories from protein, or 50 to 175 grams of protein.
Choose Leaner Slightly Larger Cuts Of Meat
Selecting leaner cuts of meat and increasing portion sizes slightly can significantly boost the protein content of your meal.
Whats more, your meal may even end up being lower in calories.
For example, compare the nutritional value of a 3-ounce serving of these two steaks (
Peanut butter can also boost the flavor and nutritional value of firm fruits like apples and pears, which are rich in fiber and antioxidants yet low in protein.
In fact, spreading 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on sliced fruit can boost the total protein content by 7 grams .
Peanut butter also works well with a wide range of other ingredients, including oatmeal, celery, whole wheat toast, or yogurt.
Adding peanut butter to your diet can boost your protein intake. It may also help decrease appetite, improve heart health, and lower blood sugar.
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Guidelines For Individualized Protein Intake
Taking into account the different positions among keto and low-carb experts, we recommend a protein intake of 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kg of body weight for most people. Protein intake within this range has been shown to preserve muscle mass, improve body composition, and provide other health benefits in people who eat low-carb diets or higher-carb diets.9
If youre near your ideal body weight or very muscular, use your actual weight to calculate your protein needs. Otherwise, you can use your height and the chart below to estimate how much protein you should aim to eat on most days.
Minimum daily protein target
2 tbsp butter
How Much Protein Can You Have A Day Protein Recommendations Based On Weight Sex And Age
The amount of protein you need each day depends on a number of factors the most significant being your body weight, sex and age.
If you exercise often or are working toward a specific fitness goal, such as building muscle or weight loss, protein should make up around 20-25% of your daily energy intake. The general rule for calculating the minimum amount of protein that you need is 0.36 grams of protein per pound that you weigh, or 0.8 grams per kilogram that you weigh.
The range is 0.8-1 grams per kilogram for healthy adults, and 1-1.2 grams per kilogram for an elderly person. For example: An active young woman who weighs around 150 pounds would need a minimum of 54 grams of protein per day following that guideline.
Sex is also a factor in determining how much protein a person should consume per day. Generally speaking, young men need slightly more protein per day than most young women especially when trying to build muscle. All men, regardless of activity level, should consume at least 56 grams of protein every day however, a 160-pound man working to increase his lean body mass would actually want to consume closer to 100+ grams of protein every day.
But these are just the minimum requirements based on weight, sex and age. What about the maximum protein dosages? Whats the maximum amount of protein the body can absorb?
You’re 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, you’ll 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.
Gain Muscle With Gainful
Looking to boost muscle building, prevent muscle loss or simply achieve a higher protein intake?Gainful can help you get enough protein with a personalized protein powder thats tailored specifically for you and your needs. Start by taking Gainfulsquiz, select your preferences and overall wellness goals, whether thats building muscle, weight loss or both. Then Gainful takes care of the rest. Gainful will help you create the customized protein powder that not only helps deliver the results youre looking for, but also comes in the flavors you crave, thanks to ourFlavor Boosts.
But if youre still worried about meeting the protein requirements necessary for building muscle, dont worry. With Gainful, youll never have to do this alone: Each subscriber has unlimited access to a personal Registered Dietitian, whos available to answer any questions you may have about your protein balance, protein supplements or workout regimen.
We want to help make gaining and maintaining muscle as easy as possible.
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Recommended Amount Of Protein Per Day For Different Situations & Goals
|Person, Situation & Goals||Ideal Daily Protein Intake|
|Average healthy sedentary adult that does NOT work out or have any related goals. This is just what I consider to be a good minimum daily protein intake for general health/function.||0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight.|
|Average healthy adult that IS doing some form of exercise regularly or IS trying to improve their body . This is the minimum Id recommend in this case.||0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight.|
|Average healthy adult FEMALE whose primary goal is building muscle, getting âtoned,â maintaining muscle while losing fat, increasing strength or improving performance.||1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.|
|Average healthy adult MALE whose primary goal is building muscle, getting âtoned,â maintaining muscle while losing fat, increasing strength or improving performance.||1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.|
So, in order to figure out how much protein you should eat per day, you just need to multiply your current body weight by the amount recommended on the chart above.
Confused? Hereâs 2 examples of how it would be doneâ¦
Basically, just multiply your current body weight in pounds by your recommended ideal protein intake. The answer you get is the ideal range for how many grams of protein you should eat per day.
Did you do it? Awesome! Your daily protein intake is now all figured out.
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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Living With One Kidney
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the term for having only one kidney, or one working kidney, is solitary kidney 111. There are three common causes of solitary kidney 3.
Birth defects like renal agenesis or kidney dysplasia lead to solitary kidney. Renal agenesis happens in around 1 in 2,000 babies, and kidney dysplasia affects about one in 4,000 babies.
Surgical removal of a kidney to treat a disease or injury can also leave someone with just one functioning kidney. According to the Mayo Clinic, nephrectomy is one potential treatment for kidney cancer 10.
Finally, some people are eligible to donate one of their kidneys to someone in need of a transplant, leaving them with one functioning kidney. In the U.S., more than 5,000 people make a living kidney donation every year.
- According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
- Finally, some people are eligible to donate one of their kidneys to someone in need of a transplant, leaving them with one functioning kidney.
So When It Comes To Protein How Much Is Too Much
It’s hard to provide a specific answer since so much is still uncertain and the experts themselves don’t agree. However, for the average person it’s probably best to aim for no more than 2 gm/kg that would be about 125 grams/day for a 140-pound person. New information could change our thinking about the maximum safe amount, but until we know more about the safety, risks and benefits of high protein diets, this seems like a reasonable recommendation.
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Why We Even Need Protein
That building block nickname is no exaggeration. The stuff is an integral component of every cell in your body, including, yes, your muscles.
If we don’t get enough protein, our bodies actually wont be able to rebuild properly and well start to lose muscle mass, Colleen Tewksbury, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior research investigator and bariatric program manager at Penn Medicine and president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF.
Protein helps repair the microtears that occur in your muscle fibers when theyre strained during exercise, the American College of Exercise explains. That process of damage and repair is what maintains and grows your muscle mass.
But protein is not just important for people who work out: In addition to muscle growth and repair, protein is essential to the growth and repair of virtually all cells and body tissuesfrom your skin, hair, and nails to your bones, organs, and bodily fluids, according to the FDA. Thats why its especially important to get enough of it during developmental periods like childhood and adolescence.
Protein also plays a role in crucial bodily functions like blood clotting, immune system response, vision, fluid balance, and the production of various enzymes and hormones, per the FDA. And because it contains calories, it can provide the body energy for storage or use.
Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful
The short answer is yes. As with most things in life, there can be too much of a good thing and if you eat too much protein, there may be a price to pay. For example, people that eat very high protein diets have a higher risk of kidney stones. Also a high protein diet that contains lots of red meat and higher amounts of saturated fat might lead to a higher risk of heart disease and colon cancer, while another high protein diet rich in plant-based proteins may not carry similar risks.
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Why Protein Is Important For Weight Loss
As well as being good for building strength, protein also plays an important role in losing weight. Evidence suggests that eating protein can both increase the number of calories you burn, by stimulating your metabolic rate, as well as reduce your appetite, meaning you’re less likely to put on pounds in the first place. What’s more, a study by researchers at Maastricht University reported that even a modest increase in protein, from 15% to 18% of calories, reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50%.
How Did We Calculate Your Protein Intake
Bodybuilding.com’s protein calculator starts with the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, which is considered by our nutritionists and dieticians to be the “gold standard” of calorie calculators. Here’s how it works:
Calculate basal metabolic rate , or the calories your body burns simply by being alive. For men: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age + 5 For women: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age -161
Then, this BMR count is multiplied, depending on your activity level:
Sedentary = 1.2
What Happens In Your Body When You Eat Protein
Its not like you eat a piece of chicken and that protein goes directly to your biceps. Dietary protein gets broken down and reassembled into the various kinds of proteins that exist in the body. No matter what kind of protein youre eatingplant or animal, complete or incompleteyour bodys first objective is to break it back down into all the different amino acid units it was assembled from, Dr. Tewksbury explains, through the digestive process.
Then those little singular amino acids get reconfigured into whatever kind of protein your body needs. For instance, some proteins in the body make up antibodies that help the immune system fight bacteria and viruses. Others help with DNA synthesis, chemical reactions, or transporting other molecules, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences explains.