What Should You Do
Research on how much protein is the optimal amount to eat for good health is ongoing, and is far from settled. The value of high-protein diets for weight loss or cardiovascular health, for example, remains controversial.
Before you start ramping up your daily protein intake, there are a few important things to consider. For one, dont read “get more protein” as “eat more meat.” Beef, poultry, and pork can certainly provide high-quality protein, but so can many plant foods including whole grains, beans and other legumes, nuts, and vegetables. The table below provides some healthier sources of protein.
Its also important to consider the protein “package” the fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that invariably come along with protein. Aim for protein sources low in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates and rich in many nutrients.
One more thing: If you increase protein, dietary arithmetic demands that you eat less of other things to keep your daily calorie intake steady. The switches you make can affect your nutrition, for better or for worse. For example, eating more protein instead of low-quality refined carbohydrates, like white bread and sweets, is a healthy choice though how healthy the choice is also depends on the total protein package.
Good sources of protein
Based On Weight And Activity
There are other ways to get a more specific protein goal that may take into account lean muscle mass and/or physical activity level.
The average adult needs a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. One kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, so a person who weighs 165 pounds, or 75 kg, would need about 60 grams of protein per day.
However, your protein needs may increase if you are very active. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Dietitians of Canada suggest that athletes need more protein.
These organizations suggest that athletes consume between 1.2 grams and 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, with endurance athletes at the lower end of this range and strength and power athletes at the higher end.
What Is The Recommended Amount Of Whey Protein You Need Per Day
Although its important to consume plenty of protein on a daily basis, you dont have to choose whey to meet your protein needs. Whey protein, present in cows milk and other dairy products, contains all the essential amino acids your body needs daily. However, whey isnt the only source of high quality-complete protein. Examples of acceptable replacements include casein, soy, egg and meat proteins.
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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.
What Is A High
A high-protein diet is one where you work on getting plenty of protein probably more than you are used to getting as the first focus of your eating patterns. Protein-rich foods include eggs, meat, seafood, legumes, and dairy products. These foods are not only high in protein but high in nutrients in general. That means a high-protein diet is also a high nutrition diet.
Increasing protein can be very helpful for weight loss because protein can help tame your appetite.1 It also supplies plenty of the raw materials needed to maintain your muscles and your metabolism, both of which help ensure that youre burning calories at an appropriate rate.2
For people who want to build muscle, getting more protein than is typically recommended is a must. Current recommendations, known as the RDA or the recommended dietary allowance, are designed for healthy people and meant to prevent malnutrition they arent meant to help increase muscle mass or improve medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes.3
Diets with increased protein can have a positive effect on the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and possibly even heart disease.4 Higher protein intake also helps prevent sarcopenia, which is a loss of muscle mass that can occur as you age, and a related condition, osteoporosis, which is a loss of bone mass.5
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You can read more about how much protein most people are eating now in our expanded section here:
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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:
How Much Protein To Build Muscle
When it comes to building muscle, your gym routine is only part of the puzzle your diet, particularly your protein intake, is the other key factor.
In general, you need between 1.2 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily to encourage muscle growth.1
While specific factors can play a role in where you fall on that range, supplying your muscles with quality protein from your diet is the key to promoting muscle growth. Read on to learn about how to make the most of your protein intake.
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Protein Shakes Powders And Supplements
Protein shakes, powders and supplements are unnecessary for most Australians health needs. According to the most recent national nutrition survey, 99% of Australians get enough protein through the food they eat.
Any protein you eat on top of what your body needs will either be excreted from your body as waste, or stored as weight gain.
The best way for you to get the protein you need is to eat a wide variety of protein-rich foods as outlined in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, as part of a balanced diet. But if you are still interested in using protein shakes, powders and supplements, talk to your doctor.
Protein And Bone Health
It has been suggested that high protein intakes could be detrimental for bone health by causing demineralisation due to increased urinary calcium excretion. This has not been demonstrated by RCTs though several systematic reviews note that the quality of evidence in this arena is low. A systematic review performed by the National Osteoporosis Foundation in 2017 reported that most observational studies support a positive association between protein consumption and bone health, one study that found a negative relationship could be explained by simultaneous low calcium intakes. A 2012 systematic review and meta-analysis including five studies found no difference in bone mineral density between lower protein diets and high protein diets providing up to 1.6g/kg bodyweight. There are health claims approved for use in the EU which state that protein contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children.
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How Much Protein Are *you* Supposed To Have A Day Lets Calculate It
To calculate your personal protein intake, take your weight and multiply it by either 0.8 if youre using kilograms or 0.36 if youre using pounds. This will provide you the minimum grams of protein you should be eating per day.
For example, if you weigh 175 lbs. this is what the calculation would look like: 175 x 0.36 = 63 g OR 79 x 0.8 = 63.2 g.
Now that you know how many grams of protein you should be eating each day, the next step is to eat!
While its ideal to meet your protein requirements with whole foods, if you find yourself falling short, there are many protein powders on the market that can help get you where you need to be.
Protein Helps You Feel Full Longer
One of the biggest things that impedes weight loss is hunger.
People are far less likely to stick with a nutrition or diet plan if they experience high levels of hunger.
Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients .
Several different lines of research have all pointed to the same thing: higher protein intakes tend to provide more satiety and less hunger.
For example, in one study, high protein snacks allowed people to go longer between eating and also caused them to eat less at subsequent meals .
Another study showed that including protein into a glass of water decreased hunger compared to water alone .
Depending on the source of protein, there does appear to be minor differences in the exact amount of satiety that protein provides, however these differences are minor and dont really make a meaningful impact for most people .
Currently, there is no consensus on the optimal level of daily protein intake in ones diet with regard to stay full. However, roughly 1.8 – 2.9 grams of protein per kilogram daily appears to provide substantial benefit on satiety .
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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.
Protein For Muscle Gain
While similar to the recommendations for weight loss, the recommendations for muscle gain are to consume between 1.2 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.2 This amount is adequate to help muscles recover and build, but it is important to make sure you are also consuming enough calories overall to create a surplus. Working out hard and eating enough protein will not cause gains in muscle mass without eating enough calories overall.
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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.
How Much Protein Do You Need Each Day
Current guidelines, established by the Institute of Medicine in 2002, recommend adults 19 years of age and older consume 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein. That’s about 200 to 700 calories from protein for a 2,000-calorie diet. Another way to calculate how much protein you need each day is to multiply 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. With a little math, this translates to 54 grams of protein for a 150-pound woman, or 65 grams for a 180-pound man.
Here are some examples of what 10 grams of protein looks like:
- 2 small eggs
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How Much Protein Should You Have A Day For Weight Loss
Protein is the one macronutrient that never gets a bad rep when it comes to losing weight. Thats because eating enough protein is shown to help weight loss.
Foods that are high in protein have a thermic effect, meaning they can boost your metabolism and increase use of energy. So increasing the percentage of protein in your diet can wind up increasing energy expenditure.
Protein is also the most satiating macronutrient, leaving you feeling full and satisfied after a meal. A small 2014 study on healthy women found that eating a high protein snack after lunch led to less afternoon hunger. And 100 fewer calories were consumed at dinner compared to those noshing on high fat and high carb snacks.Aiming to consume more than 1.2 g/kg per day has also been shown to boost fullness compared to the normal range .
How Much Protein You Need
People do have different protein requirements depending on their age, their size, their levels of activity and health. However, those requirements are not as high and don’t vary as much, as some of the popular hype around protein might lead one to believe.
Current dietary guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend that adult women consume 46 grams of protein per day or 10%30% of your total calories. For adult men, 56 grams of protein is recommended or 10%30% of your total calories.
The USDA offers the following guidelines as to what serving sizes equal an ounce of protein: In general, 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the Protein Foods Group.
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How Much Food From The Protein Foods Group Is Needed Daily
The amount of protein foods you need to eat depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity. For women, the amount can also depend on whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Most Americans eat enough from the Protein Foods Group, but need to select leaner varieties of meat and poultry and increase the variety of protein foods selected, choosing meats less often. Find the right amount for you by getting your MyPlate Plan. For general recommendations by age, see the table below.
How To Factor Protein Into Your Total Daily Calorie Intake
Now that you know how much protein you should eat per day and have a good idea of which foods will be providing that protein, theres one final step to complete.
We need to factor your daily protein intake into the ideal daily calorie intake you figured out before. Dont worry its easy.
You just need to know that 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories.
So, all you need to do is multiply the grams of protein youâre going to eat each day by 4 to figure out exactly how many calories your protein intake will account for. Heres 2 examples
- Using the same 130lb woman from the example before, lets say she decided to go with an even 130 grams of protein per day. She would do 130 x 4 = 520. In this example, 520 calories out of her total daily calorie intake will come from protein each day.
- Using the same 180lb man from the example before, lets say he decided to go with an even 220 grams of protein per day. Heâd do 220 x 4 = 880. In this example, 880 calories out of his total daily calorie intake will come from protein each day.
Now its your turn. Multiply the ideal protein intake you calculated a minute ago by 4. Thats how many calories protein will account for in your diet each day.
This step might seem pointless or confusing right now, but dont worry. It will make perfect sense as we continue putting the rest of your diet plan together. Youll see I promise.
Speaking of the rest of your diet plan
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