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.
What Protein Actually Is
Protein is one of the three macronutrients . Unlike carbs and fat, protein is not usually a major energy source, although we definitely get some of that from itprotein provides four calories per gram. But protein is often referred to as a building block in the body because of its central role in growth and development.
Almost all animal-derived productsmeat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fishcontain a significant amount of protein, so they get labeled as protein sources when were talking about our diets and nutrition. But protein is also present in a lot of plant-based foods. Theres a good amount in beans, peas, nuts, and seeds, for instance, while vegetables and grains generally contain smaller amounts, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . Whole grains will have more protein than refined grains, though, which are missing the part of the grain that often supplies a lot of the protein content, as SELF previously reported.
Proteins are made of small units called amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids in total, which can be broken down into two main groups, per the FDA. Nine of the 20 are what are referred to as essential amino acids, meaning that the body is unable to produce them itself and so we must get them from food. The other 11 are nonessential because the body is able to synthesize them out of the essential amino acids or the normal process of breaking down proteins, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Required Protein In A Day
Its normal to be concerned about what youre eating and how it affects your body. Protein is one essential nutrient thats vital for growing and protecting muscles and bones, but sometimes it gets overhyped. While its important to meet minimum daily protein requirements, University of Iowa Health Care reports that most Americans actually get twice the amount of protein they need.
Protein Per Day: Do I Need Any More Multiple Benefits
Our daily protein intake depends on numerous factors like age, weight, height, gender, and physical activities.
For a healthy adult, the recommended protein intake should be around at least 0.8 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight. If you are living a sedentary lifestyle, this is the amount of protein your body needs to stay active and healthy. It also includes people who are into desk jobs with little or no exercise.
So, an adult who weighs around 132 pounds and follows a sedentary lifestyle requires 48 grams of protein per day. The requirement for daily protein intake also varies due to various factors. Factors like being pregnant, recovering from an injury, sports activity, managing weight, or being a teenager need extra protein consumption.
Percent Of Daily Calories
Current U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines suggest that adults should consume between 10% and 35% of their total calories from protein. To get your number and track your intake, you’ll need to know how many calories you consume each day.
Once you know how many calories you consume, multiply that number by 10% and 35% to get your range. As an example, a person who consumes 2,000 calories per day would need to consume 200 to 700 calories each day from protein.
Don’t Miss: Vega One Nutritional Shake Vs.shakeology
How Much Protein Should You Eat For Muscle Gain
If youre looking to beef up your biceps, protein is one major contributor.
According to a 2018 article, to see muscle gains you want to get in more protein than your body breaks down .
Participating in resistance exercises followed by eating quality protein keeps the net protein balance positive. And continuing that pattern regularly can lead to muscle growth over time. This is why a post-workout protein shake is a staple for many weight lifters to pack on the muscle.
But the actual amount of protein needed to build muscle seems to vary. Some research states that eating about 20 to 40 g of protein after resistance exercise and every 3 hours throughout the day can help you see some gains. Other research states that targeting a protein intake of 1.6 to 2.2 g/kg per day is ideal.
Is Too Much Bad For You
Now that weve worried about getting enough and told you the amazing ways to fit a little protein in your diet, its time to switch that focus and look at is having over the recommended protein per day amount bad for you?
For those of you who love to get a protein fix, the answer is no, having more than the RDA of protein isnt bad for your healthbut there are exceptions.
Following a high protein diet, such as Atkins or Keto, can lead you to restrict other nutrients in addition to boosting your protein intake. This can lead to malnutrition, and we strongly recommend consulting a doctor before undertaking such restrictive regimes.
In addition, if you have kidney problems it may be recommended that you do not consume too much protein.
However, on the whole, remember, if you have any concerns about your diet please consult your nutritionist or health care provider and learn what is most suitable for you.
Read Also: What Does Protein In Your Kidneys Mean
How Much Protein Do I Need To Lose Weight
EMMIE SATRAZEMIS, RD, CSSD August 4, 2020
When it comes to weight loss there is one macro the resigns supreme – protein! In fact, outside of calorie control, eating more protein is one of the best dietary approaches to losing body fat. However, the exact amount of protein you need is often hotly debated and can differ from one person to the next.
Heres the breakdown on this popular diet-friendly macro and expert advice on what your optimal daily protein intake should be.
Is Too Much Protein Bad For Your Kidneys
The idea that a high-protein diet is bad for your kidneys is something that people have been arguing about for years.
It dates back to the early 1980s when Dr Barry Brenner proposed a link between high protein diets and the progression of renal disease .
Its true that a low-protein diet helps to prevent the deterioration in renal function in patients with renal failure. Thats because one of the main jobs of the kidneys is to remove the end products of protein metabolism from your body.
They act a bit like a sieve, filtering out any unwanted substances in the blood and sending them to the bladder where they can be removed in the urine.
But the majority of scientific evidence cited by Brenner and his colleagues was generated from animal models and patients with existing renal disease.
While protein restriction may be suitable for treating someone with existing kidney disease, there is no evidence to show that high protein intakes can lead to kidney damage in healthy individuals.
A study by Belgian researchers Jacques Poortmans and Oliver Dellalieux examined the diets of young male athletes to see if their high level of protein intake had any negative impact on kidney function.
One group consisted solely of bodybuilders, while subjects in group two took part in a variety of sports, such as cycling, judo, and rowing.
Despite the high levels of dietary protein, blood and urine samples showed that all markers of kidney function were well within the normal range.
Recommended Reading: Protein In Kind Bars
How Much Protein Do You Need To Gain Muscle
The recommended daily intake of protein is 45-55 g, or around 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. However, it is important to remember that this is defined as the minimum amount of protein you should consume in order to prevent muscle loss, rather than the recommended maximum intake.
As such, if you are an adult whose goal is to build up muscle mass through exercise, then this intake is unlikely to be enough . Reema Patel, registered dietitian at Dietitian Fit says:
“It is highly dependent on the individual, but if you are regularly doing resistance/weight-based training, between 1.2-2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day is a good guideline to work towards.”
Many recent studies support this recommendation, with the optimum amount of protein for muscle-building appearing be around 1.8 g and 2 g per kg of body weight, which is the amount that most professional athletes aim to consume.
If you are following an intense exercise regime, you may want to consider consuming around 2 g per kg on a daily basis for the first 12 weeks of training. During this time, your body is most hard at work, breaking down muscle fibres, repairing micro-tears, and creating new structures in order to adapt to your exercise routine.
After this period, you might want to reduce your protein intake slightly to between 1.2 g and 1.6 g per kg. This is because your body is unlikely to need quite as much after it becomes more used to the muscle damage that your exercise routine is regularly inflicting.
Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Lactating Women
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.
You May Like: What Milk Has The Most Protein
Foods High In Protein
There are many different combinations of food that a person can eat to meet their protein intake requirements. For many people, a large portion of protein intake comes from meat and dairy, though it is possible to get enough protein while meeting certain dietary restrictions you might have. Generally, it is easier to meet your RDA of protein by consuming meat and dairy, but an excess of either can have a negative health impact. There are plenty of plant-based protein options, but they generally contain less protein in a given serving. Ideally, a person should consume a mixture of meat, dairy, and plant-based foods in order to meet their RDA and have a balanced diet replete with nutrients.
If possible, consuming a variety of complete proteins is recommended. A complete protein is a protein that contains a good amount of each of the nine essential amino acids required in the human diet. Examples of complete protein foods or meals include:
- Hemp and chia seeds
This Is How Much Protein You Need To Build Muscle
Everyone knows we need protein to build muscle, but how much is enough?
Let’s face it, protein and muscle-building go hand-in-hand. The macronutrient is vital for muscle tissue repair and is full of amino acids: the building blocks of strength. But, with sources, calculations and advice varying wildly, few men actually know how much protein they need to maintain muscle and to keep building bulk.
And without that knowledge the caricature of the gym bro guzzling a protein shake that’s surgically attached to him is allowed to live on. Well, no more. We’re here to tell you exactly how much protein you need in your diet to build muscle, as well as explain how you can calculate a protein intake that’s personalised to you and the foods you can add to your diet to up your protein numbers, if that’s necessary.
According to the NHS, the daily reference intake of protein is 50g, but that doesn’t take into account the differences between people, so it doesn’t change whether you’re 6 ft 9 or 4 ft 4, nor does it allow for the difference in need between someone who weighs 80 kilos compared with someone who weighs 200 kilos. But there are ways to work out how much protein you need. And all you have to do is keep reading to find out how.
For effective home workouts, uplifting stories, easy recipes and advice you can trust, subscribe to Mens Health UK today
Recommended Reading: Can Low Protein Cause Headaches
How Much Protein Do You Need Every Day
Protein is essential to good health. The very origin of the word from the Greek protos, meaning “first” reflects proteins top-shelf status in human nutrition. You need it to put meat on your bones and to make hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, enzymes, and more. Its common for athletes and bodybuilders to wolf down extra protein to bulk up. But the message the rest of us often get is that our daily protein intake is too high.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, its the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.
To determine your daily protein intake, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36, or use this online protein calculator. For a 50-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds woman and who is sedentary , that translates into 53 grams of protein a day.
But use of the RDA to determine how much protein you need daily has actually caused a lot of confusion. “Theres a misunderstanding not only among the public, but also somewhat in our profession about the RDA,” says Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “People in general think we all eat too much protein.”
What Protein Is And Why It’s Important
Before we work out how much protein you need, let’s first break down exactly what it is. Put simply, protein is a macronutrient that is built from amino acids, which are stitched together into long chains. Some of these chains your body can make naturally known as non-essential and some of which it cant. These are called essential amino acids and you need to source them from food. When you chow down on a chicken breast your body breaks proteins down into their constituent amino acids, which it then uses to build everything from new muscle to organs and hair.
You May Like: Shakeology Alternatives 2018
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 .
Beans Peas And Lentils
Both the high fiber and protein contents in pulses help make them more filling. Whats more, the fiber may lower your blood cholesterol if you eat pulses regularly .
In a review of 26 studies in 1,037 people, eating an average of 2/3 cup of cooked pulses daily for at least three weeks resulted in 7 mg/dL lower bad LDL cholesterol, compared to control diets that equaled a 5% reduction in LDL over time .
Notably, pulses are low in a few essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein in your body. However, by eating other plant protein sources over the course of a day, such as whole grains or nuts, youll fill in those gaps .
Summary Beans, peas and lentils are good sources of lean protein. Theyre also high in fiber and may help lower your cholesterol if you eat them regularly.
Don’t Miss: Protein Powder Like Shakeology