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!
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.
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.
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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.
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Meeting daily protein intake requirements isn’t difficult with the right plan in place.
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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.
Boost Protein And Fiber
Eat more protein than you normally do without exceeding 1.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.
Add protein foods to each meal plus non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, bell peppers, celery, and mushrooms.
These foods, plus healthy fats, should make up the majority of each plate during weight loss.
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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 .
Protein Needs For Active Men
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends protein intakes of 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily for athletes and active adults.
This is equivalent to 0.5-0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Therefore, a 180-pound active man needs about 90-162 grams of protein daily to maintain lean mass and optimize his health.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand, eating 20-40 grams of protein every 3-4 hours throughout the day and ingesting 30-40 grams of casein protein before bed stimulates muscle building and increases your bodys metabolism.
Consider adding protein shakes to your daily meal plans to get or stay lean.
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:
Best Protein Sources For Men
Any healthy protein-rich food is beneficial for muscle-building and weight loss or healthy weight maintenance in men.
Animal-based protein foods contain all the essential amino acids your body requires to build and maintain muscle mass.If you follow a vegan diet or eat little meat, poultry, fish, or dairy foods, you can still get all the essential amino acids your body needs by eating a wide variety of plant protein foods throughout the day.
Add some of the following protein foods to your diet to optimize health and stay lean:
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Nutritional Value Of Protein
The nutritional value of a protein is measured by the quantity of essential amino acids it contains.
Different foods contain different amounts of essential amino acids. Generally:
- Animal products have all of the essential amino acids and are known as ‘complete’ protein .
- Soy products, quinoa and the seed of a leafy green called amaranth also have all of the essential amino acids.
- Plant proteins usually lack at least one of the essential amino acids and are considered ‘incomplete’ proteins.
People following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet need to choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods every day to make sure they get an adequate mix of essential amino acids. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as you eat a wide variety of foods, you can usually get the protein you need. For example, a meal containing cereals and legumes, such as baked beans on toast, provides all the essential amino acids found in a typical meat dish.
Proteins Are Made Of Amino Acids
Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that link together in different combinations. Your body uses them to make new proteins, such as muscle and bone, and other compounds such as enzymes and hormones. It can also use them as an energy source.
Some amino acids can be made by your body there are 11 of these and theyre known as non-essential amino acids. There are nine amino acids that your body cannot make, and they are known as essential amino acids. You need to include enough of these in your diet so that your body can function.
Protein Increases The Thermic Effect Of Food
The thermic effect of food is the cost of digesting your food.
Essentially, it takes some energy to break food down, digest it, and turn it into energy. Protein has the highest cost of all the three macronutrients.
While the total effect that the thermic effect of food has on daily energy expenditure and weight loss is small, it is not meaningless and is important to note.
In one study, a high protein diet increased the thermic effect of food by roughly 6-8 kcals per hour when compared to a low protein diet, which may translate to ~50-75 calories per day .
However, not all studies show this large of an effect, and the thermic effect of protein is not likely responsible for most of its benefit, but it may be the cherry on top of adequate dietary protein during weight loss.
You can track things like the thermic effect of food, total daily energy expenditure, and macros with the NASM Weight Loss Calculator.
Calculate Daily Protein Need
To determine your daily protein need, multiply your LBM by the appropriate activity level.
- Sedentary : multiply by 0.5
- Light activity : multiply by 0.6
- Moderate : multiply by 0.7
- Active : multiply by 0.8
- Very active : multiply by 0.9
- Athlete : multiply by 1.0
Based on this method, a 150-pound person with an LBM of 105 would require daily protein intake ranging from 53 grams, if sedentary, to 105 grams if athletic.
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Recommended Allowances For Protein
In establishing an RDA for protein, three steps were followed: The subcommittee first estimated the average requirement for reference proteins according to sex, age, and reproductive status of women. The standard deviation of requirement was determined and average requirement values were increased accordingly to compute the recommended allowance of reference protein. Amino acid scoring patterns were tabulated. These were based on requirements of various age groups for essential amino acids and for total protein. These patterns of requirement were reviewed in relation to U.S. food consumption patterns to determine if adjustment of the allowance for reference protein would be warranted in establishing the RDA for protein due to amino acid composition or protein digestibility of food proteins consumed.
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.
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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.
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.
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Eating More May Help Older People Prevent Muscle Loss
Beans and legumes, including all types of dried beans, split peas and lentils, are considered good sources of protein.
Protein helps to keep our muscles strong, which is important for maintaining the balance and mobility needed to continue to live independently as we age. Yet, unlike with fruits and veggies, we may not focus on getting enough of this important nutrient. And recommendations on exactly how much protein older adults need vary.
The current recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight a day for adults over 18, or about 2.3 ounces for a 180-pound adult. But research is showing that higher levels may be needed for adults age 65-plus.
In our older years, we are at risk of sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function. The essential amino acids in protein are key nutrients for muscle health, but older adults are less responsive to low doses of amino acid intake compared to younger people. A 2016 study from researchers at the departments of Food Science and Geriatrics at the University of Arkansas found that this lack of responsiveness can be overcome with higher levels of protein consumption. The study says that protein levels in the range of 30 to 35 percent of total caloric intake may prove beneficial, although the researchers acknowledge that level could be difficult to reach for many people.
The Cleveland Clinic polled six dietitians on their top four sources of protein, and the winners were:
Daily Nutritional Requirements For Macronutrients
In addition to creating DVs for all the vitamins and minerals people ingest, the FDA has also created DVs for the three essential macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats. There are also DVs for specific subtypes of macronutrients. These DVs include:
- Total fat: The DV for total fat consumption is 65 grams per day. Within this amount of total fat are monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat and trans fat. The DV for saturated fat is less than 20 grams per day. There’s no DV for trans fat, but the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming as little as possible. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which include essential fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are the healthy fats that should make up the majority of your fat consumption.
- Total carbohydrates: The DV for total carbohydrate consumption is 300 grams per day. Within this amount of total carbohydrates are also sugars, sugar alcohols, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Sugars can refer to natural sugars, like in fruit, or added sugars, such as those in candies and desserts. There’s no DV for sugars or sugar alcohols, but the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 10 percent or less of your daily calories from added sugars. The DV for dietary fiber, which refers to both soluble and insoluble fiber, is 25 grams.
- Protein: The DV for protein is 50 grams.
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