How To Eat More Protein
Knowing your protein goals is only half the battle, you still ended to figure out how that translates into food choices.
Start by learning where the best sources of protein can be found and identify high protein foods you enjoy eating. You can enjoy quality protein sources from a variety of foods including animal-based options like meat, fish, and dairy, or plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
Here are some resources to help you find the most protein dense foods:
Daily Value Updates May Affect % Daily Value
The DVs for many nutrients have been updated based on new nutrition research. So, the %DV may be different on some of your favorite products or supplements. As a result, you may need to consume more or less of a certain food, beverage or dietary supplement in order to meet the DVs or the recommended amounts.
For the nutrients with DVs that are going up, the %DVs may go down.For example, the DV for total fat has been updated from 65g to 78g. That means that a packaged food with 36g of total fat in one serving now has 46% DV. See below for a side-by-side comparison of the information on the original and new Nutrition Facts labels.
For the nutrients with DVs that are going down, the %DVs may go up.For example, the DV for sodium has been updated from 2,400mg to 2,300mg. That means that a packaged food with 1,060mg of sodium in one serving now has 46% DV. See below for a side-by-side comparison of the information on the original and new Nutrition Facts labels.
Top Sources Of Protein Beyond Whole Foods
Even though protein is found in many whole foods, there are hundreds of manufactured protein-packed items. Protein powders, protein energy bars, and even protein-boosted breads, pancake mixes, and chips are available to you.
These products may be appropriate for certain people who are supposed to take in more protein than the usual recommendation. Athletes, for instance, may benefit from ingesting protein within an hour of working out. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a large single dose of 25 g of protein after exercise can increase muscle protein synthesis. That could explain why protein shakes are so often associated with body builders and gym rats.
Elderly people who have trouble eating and drinking enough protein during the day, sometimes as a result of a decreased appetite, can also benefit from high-protein products and shakes, according to an article published in the magazine Aging Well. Protein is important for this group because the bodys protein stores naturally decline as people age. In fact, people lose 3 to 8 percent of their lean muscle mass each decade after age 30, per a review published in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. Without enough protein, these older adults may experience general weakness , fatigue, decreased mobility, and weakened immune systems.
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Excessive Intakes And Toxicity
Because the system for disposal of excess nitrogen is efficient, protein intakes moderately above requirement are believed to be safe. Brenner et al. postulated that excess protein intake accelerates the processes that lead to renal glomerular sclerosis, a common phenomenon of aging. There is supportive evidence from studies in animals, but not in humans on this point. Urinary calcium excretion increases with increased protein intake if phosphorus intake is constant. If phosphorus intake increases with protein intake, as it does in U.S. diets, the effect of protein is minimized . It has been suggested, but not demonstrated, that a habitual high intake of protein might contribute to osteoporosis. This seems unlikely based on present evidence, at least for the range of intake by most people in the United States. Habitual intakes of protein in the United States are substantially above the requirement, and although there is no firm evidence that these intake levels are harmful, it has been deemed prudent to maintain an upper bound of no more than twice the RDA for protein .
Based On Lean Body Mass
An additional method of figuring out how much protein you need takes into account activity level and lean body mass. Some experts feel that this is a more accurate technique since lean body mass requires more protein for maintenance than fatty tissue.
Lean body mass is the amount of bodyweight that is not fat. It includes bone, water, muscle, organs, and other tissues. There are different ways to determine your lean body mass, but the easiest is to subtract your body fat from your total body mass.
First, you’ll need to determine your body fat percent. There are different ways to get the number, including body fat testing with skin calipers, BIA scales, or DEXA scans. You can also estimate body fat with this calculator.
Next, calculate your total body fat in pounds. Multiply your body weight by the body fat percentage. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and your fat percentage is 30, then 45 of those pounds would be fat .
Lastly, calculate lean body mass.Subtract your body fat weight from your total body weight. Using the same example, the lean body mass would be 105 .
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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.
How To Actually Calculate Your Protein Needs
Perhaps, then, the best way to measure how much protein you need to consume daily is based on lean body mass, or everything in your body that isnt fat. This could provide a more accurate figure than focusing on just your total weight.
Of course, if youre a fitness model sitting comfortably at four per cent body fat, then theres obviously not going to be much difference whether protein intake is expressed relative to your weight or lean body mass. For the average guy, however, its a considerably different story. Theyre likely to be carrying more weight around their midriff and have a higher body-fat percentage.
On the flipside, lets look at an obese man who weighs 135kg. In this case, it would be unwise to base his protein intake on his total bodyweight. Using the 2g of protein per kg, hell be eating a whopping 270g protein on a daily basis.
Needless to say, our hypothetical overweight man definitely doesnt need to be eating the equivalent of 10 chicken breasts a day, even if hes looking to build muscle. In fact, most research shows little benefit to consuming more than 2.2g of protein per kg of lean body mass.
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Very High Protein Diets Are Dangerous
Some fad diets promote very high protein intakes of between 200 and 400g per day. This is more than five times the amount recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The protein recommendations in the Guidelines provide enough protein to build and repair muscles, even for body builders and athletes. A very high-protein diet can strain the kidneys and liver. It can also prompt excessive loss of the mineral calcium, which can increase your risk of osteoporosis.
Symptoms Of Protein Deficiency And Health Risks Of Not Getting Enough
Protein deficiency occurs when you dont eat enough protein. The most severe cases result in a form of malnutrition called kwashiorkor. Usually, this affects people in very poor countries that dont have enough food to sufficiently feed the people. It rarely occurs in the United States, and when it does, its usually linked to some kind of abuse.
Symptoms of protein deficiency include:
- Delayed growth
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Greater Appetite And Calorie Intake
Although poor appetite is one of the symptoms of severe protein deficiency, the opposite seems to be true for milder forms of deficiency.
When your protein intake is inadequate, your body attempts to restore your protein status by increasing your appetite, encouraging you to find something to eat .
But a protein deficit doesnt aimlessly drive the urge to eat, at least not for everyone. It may selectively increase peoples appetite for savory foods, which tend to be high in protein .
While this may certainly help in times of food shortage, the problem is that modern society offers unlimited access to savory, high-calorie foods.
Many of these convenience foods contain some protein. However, the amount of protein in these foods is often considerably low compared to the number of calories they provide.
As a result, poor protein intake may lead to weight gain and obesity, an idea known as the protein leverage hypothesis (
If you are feeling hungry all the time and have difficulties keeping your calorie intake in check, try adding some lean protein to every meal.
Summary: Low protein intake may increase appetite. While a greater appetite is beneficial in times of food shortage, it may promote weight gain and obesity when food is plentiful.
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.
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Maximum Limit Of Dietary Protein Intake
Previously it was thought that a result of consuming simple amino acids may be to draw water into your digestive system, resulting in cramping and diarrhea in certain cases. More serious conditions such as those associated with liver and kidney damage were also suspected as being linked to higher protein intake levels. However, recent extensive reviews and meta analyses show that such risks appear unsupported by the evidence. The most recent scientific evidence also does not support previously held suspicions that very high daily protein intake might lead to bone mineral balance issues and result in various bone diseases.
It seems that the current literature does not support the concept of a maximum limit for protein intake per day. However, as always, before making significant changes to your diet based on this software’s output, be it for weight loss, fat loss, or muscle gain, consult a nutritionist or a physician.
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
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How Much Protein Do You Need Daily
The ideal protein intake for an individual differs from person to person.
- In general, the ideal amount for the UK population is 0.75 g per kg of body weight.
- On the contrary, for the USA, the protein intake is 0.8 g per kg of body weight.
This is a general idea of recommended daily allowance protein your diet should involve. For bodybuilders, the protein intake should go high, but never low.
People lifting weight and workout require greater nourishment to obtain maximum benefits of their effort.
You can eat before or after workout to gain weight. Firstly, you need to understand how the macronutrient contributes to your Hercules physique.
Other Effects On Protein Requirements
There is little evidence that muscular activity increases the need for protein, except for the small amount required for the development of muscles during physical conditioning . Vigorous activity that leads to profuse sweating, such as in heavy work and sports, and exposure to heat increases nitrogen loss from the skin, but with acclimatization to a warm environment, the excessive skin loss is reduced and may be partially compensated by decreased renal excretion . In view of the margin of safety in the RDA, no increment is added for work or training.
No added allowance is made here for the usual stresses encountered in daily living, which can give rise to transient increases in urinary nitrogen output . It is assumed that the subjects of experiments forming the basis for the requirement estimates are usually exposed to the same stresses as the population generally.
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.
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
Can Too Much Protein Cause Tiredness
Feeling fatigued might have you reaching for coffee, but it could be the amount of protein in your system thats causing your thoughts to wander. Brain fog, in general, is also a possibility from too much protein, as a sugar deficit for the brain can cause your brain to actually shrink, Immer explains.
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Daily Value Vs % Daily Value
First, lets look at how Daily Value and Percent Daily Value work together. DVs are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed each day. The %DV is how much a nutrient in a single serving of an individual packaged food or dietary supplement contributes to your daily diet. For example, if the DV for a certain nutrient is 300 micrograms and a packaged food or supplement has 30 mcg in one serving, the %DV for that nutrient in a serving of the product would be 10%. If you ate one serving of the product, you would have met 10% of your need for that nutrient in a day and could consume other foods or supplements to get the other 90%.
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.
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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.