What Should My Protein Intake Be To Lose Weight

How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day

“How much protein do I need a day to lose weight?” – ANSWERED!

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

Tip: Calculating your protein needs

Should You Limit Your Protein If You Want To Lose Weight

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Sifting through information about how much protein to eat can be confusing. While some studies have demonstrated a link between high-protein diets and weight loss, there are also doctors and nutritionists who caution against eating extra protein if your goal is to lose weight. For the healthiest approach, eat a moderate amount of the nutrient and try to cut your overall calorie intake.

How To Calculate Your Daily Protein Intake

Knowing protein is such an important nutrient for those looking to lose weight while maintaining or even building muscle, you may wonder exactly how much protein you should be consuming each day. The previously mentioned 0.8 grams per kilograms of bodyweight per day, which translates to about 0.36 grams of protein per pound, is a decent starting point.

However, most people who are looking to lose weight and are focused on a high protein diet will likely want to increase that ratio. An article published by Harvard Medical School last year called the 0.8 grams of protein per kilograms of bodyweight ratio modest, pointing out that following the RDA would result in only about 10% of daily calories coming from protein sources. It further suggests that consuming between 15% and 25% of your daily calories from protein sources can be beneficial to help you with muscle growth and retention.

A ratio of anywhere from 0.4 grams of protein per pound to as high as 0.7 grams per pound is typically used by professional athletes or others who engage in lots of exercise. Experiment with different ranges to see what kind of protein intake your body needs to help you feel full enough to achieve your weight loss goals.

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Increased Fat And Weight Loss

While it may seem counterintuitive to increase your fat consumption to lose weight, high-fat diets, also known as low-carb diets, are often successful in helping people lose weight. Low-carb diets and ketogenic diets don’t eliminate carbohydrates entirely but reduce them significantly.

According to a December 2018 study in the Journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and a September 2018 study in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, carbohydrate intake in ketogenic diets is typically between 20 and 50 grams per day. The carbohydrates being counted are net carbs, which are carbohydrates minus the fiber or sugar alcohol content. If you have been consuming a standard diet, this means that your carbohydrate intake will be around 10 to 20 percent of what it was.

In order to reduce carbohydrates by such a dramatic amount and not starve yourself, you have to increase your consumption of other macronutrients. Low-carb and ketogenic diets increase fat content. In ketogenic diets, fat makes up 70 percent of your diet, 20 percent of your diet is protein and the remaining 10 percent are carbohydrates.

Certain high-protein ketogenic diets may have ratios like 60 percent fat, 35 percent protein and 5 percent carbohydrates, though. If you aren’t a fan of such a substantial carbohydrate reduction, you can also try low-carb diets that are a bit more flexible, like Atkins 100, a low-carb diet that allows people to consume 100 grams of net carbs per day.

How Much Protein Should I Eat At Once

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That said, the amino acids most closely linked to muscle protein synthesis , a process that switches on genes responsible for muscle gain are the branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine has far and away the most research linking it to MPS.

Now, MPS is just one piece of the muscle gain puzzle: total daily calories is hugely important, as is total protein intake, ones exercise regimen, sleep, and many other factors. While these are far more important than worrying about leucine some research has found people to gain and lose the same amount of muscle and fat whether theyre eating every day or every other day, so long as their calories are in check it seems that about three grams of leucine per serving is ideal for keeping MPS maintained.

Youll get that in about 20 to 30 grams of protein from most protein dense sources, including many vegan ones like legumes and grains.

So if youre eating 150 grams of protein a day, this might sound like you should eat 5 meals with 30 grams of protein each, so a meal every three hours. Theres nothing wrong with this approach, but its worth remembering that some research has found MPS to be about the same after six hours whether you ate two small meals with 30 grams apiece or if you ate a big meal with 60 grams of protein and then nothing else for six hours.

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We Need To Maintain Our Muscle Mass As We Age Because We Become Less Active And Frail

Most experts agree with Tipton that protein is best consumed in food instead of supplements. But there are some exceptions, such as athletes who find it difficult to hit their daily protein targets, points out Graeme Close, professor of human physiology at Liverpool John Moores University. I believe most need more than the recommended daily allowance, and theres good evidence to support this, he says. In this case, he says, a shake can be useful.

Another demographic who can benefit from extra protein? The elderly. Thats because as we age, we need more protein to retain muscle mass. But we also tend to eat less protein as we get older because our taste-buds begin to prefer sweet over savoury.

Emma Stevenson, professor of sport and exercise science at Newcastle University, is working with food companies to get more protein into snacks that the elderly are known to regularly buy, such as biscuits. We need to maintain our muscle mass as we age, because we become less active and frail, she says.

Close says the elderly should increase protein intake to around 1.2g per kg body weight.

Most people get more than their daily recommended allowance of protein from their diet

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Increased Protein And Weight Loss

High-protein diets can also help to support weight loss. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, which averages out to about 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per day for women. Increasing protein consumption modestly can be part of a healthy diet.

According to an April 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is the ideal amount of dietary protein for weight loss. Diets with increased protein consumption can help preserve muscle mass while promoting fat loss. They also have other benefits, like reduced triglyceride levels, improved blood pressure and elevated satiety hormones.

Why We Need Protein

How to eat more protein to lose weight I High protein diet weight loss

Before we get into the details of what protein is, letâs get motivated by appreciating what protein does. Our bodies use protein to build just about everything. Skin, hair, muscles, organs, even the hemoglobin in your blood is made of protein.

And the list goes on: The enzymes that break down food and spark chemical reactions in the body are proteins. Our immune systems depend on protein to make antibodies. Protein molecules aid the transfer of messages between the neurotransmitters in our brains. And many hormones, including insulin and other metabolism-regulating hormones, are proteins as well.

If youâre thinking, whereâs the protein? Let me at it. But before we go there, we should sneak in a little bit of science about what protein actually is. Protein molecules are made of smaller molecules called amino acids. There are twenty naturally occurring amino acids. Some names you might be familiar with are lysine, glutamine, and tryptophan. When you eat foods that contain protein, your body breaks those proteins down and reassembles the amino acids to create the protein structures it wants to make.

The human body can synthesize eleven of the amino acids it needs. However, nine amino acids are called essential amino acids because they must be taken in from food.

When a single food provides all nine essential amino acids, it is called a complete protein.

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Too Much Vs Too Little

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the recommended daily intake of protein for adults at an average weight and activity level is 56 grams daily for men and 46 grams daily for women. This is the minimum required protein intake, and the amount can increase depending on your goals.

Its ideal to eat smaller amounts of protein throughout the day instead of getting your protein requirement in one or two meals. This allows your body utilize what it needs throughout the day instead of storing what isnt used as fat.

Its true that eating very high levels of protein is correlated with some health risks. If youre not cutting calories from carbohydrates while increasing calorie intake from protein, you may experience weight gain instead of weight loss.

Very high protein intake may also cause digestive issues, including constipation, gut-related issues and changes in blood sugar levels.

Finally, its important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet that doesnt completely neglect any nutrients. This will ensure that youre getting the micro- and macronutrients you need for optimal health.

It Can Help You Build Muscle

If you’re not only hoping to lose weight but to turn it into toned, lean muscle, Poon says protein is the ticket. As she explains, when you blend exercise with thoughtful protein consumption, and you can shift your body composition.

“Combined with strength training, a protein-rich diet can help you build more muscle,” says Poon. “Though many women avoid weight training for fear of bulk, it can support health in many ways, including weight loss.”

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How Much Protein A Day To Lose Weight

So how can you tell exactly how much protein do you need to maintain your muscle and lose weight?

When calorie restriction for fat loss is considered, some research suggests between 2.3 to 3.1 grams of protein/kg of fat-free body mass or 1.04 to 1.4 grams/pound of muscle is best . You can find out your muscle mass by estimating your % body fat or getting a body composition test done.

But again, this amount can vary widely from one person to the next, And of course, you have to have the muscle to begin with. So if you are looking to lose weight and do not participate in any strength training, you might want to consider adding weight lifting or at least bodyweight exercises to your weight loss plan.

Consider increasing your protein intake to 30% of your calories or roughly 1 gram per pound of body weight/day if you are looking to drop some pounds and tone up.

How Much Protein Per Meal

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Muscle protein synthesis is the process of building new skeletal muscle tissue. When MPS chronically exceeds muscle protein breakdown , resulting in a positive net protein balance, we can expect muscle growth over the long term. Each time you eat represents an opportunity to promote muscle growth through the stimulation of MPS.

Protein-feeding studies using various doses of whey protein suggest that 0.24 g/kg/meal will maximize the MPS of the average young adult, whereas 0.40 g/kg/meal will maximize the MPS of most young adults. For older adults, these two values jump to 0.40 and 0.60 g/kg/meal.

Desirable minimal protein intake range per meal and age

Body weight

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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.

How Much Protein Do You Need For Weight Loss And Muscle Growth

Low-carb, vegetarian, Mediterraneanwhatever your diet, it’s important to get enough protein.

Although research hasn’t yet pinpointed one perfect formula, experts say that the typical “recommended” daily minimums aren’t optimal, and that it helps to factor in your weight and activity level to determine how much protein you personally need.

A good baseline for people who exercise at a moderate level is between one-half and three-quarters of a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, eat between 75 and 112 grams of protein per day. To lose weight, diets with higher amounts of proteinbetween 90 and 150 grams a dayare effective and help keep you from losing muscle along with fat.

Since the body uses protein most effectively when you have it at regular intervals, divide your daily intake into four equal amounts for breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner. If you work out at a high level, consider eating another 50 grams of protein before you go to bed to help with overnight muscle repair.

You might be familiar with calorie counting, but it’s also important to know how to tally your protein intake. While one ounce of chicken weighs 28 grams, it contains only about 9 grams of protein. So it takes a 3-ounce portion to deliver 27 grams of protein, or about one-quarter of the average daily need.

27-Gram Protein Portions

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What Are Good High Protein Foods For Weight Loss

While many of us immediately associate protein with meat, there are lots of sources of protein suitable for vegans or vegetarians too.

“You should vary your protein sources,” says Banna. “Fish may be included in your diet if you eat animal-source foods as your source of omega-3 fats. Plant-based sources of protein are also a healthy part of the diet, such as beans and tofu. Poultry is also a good source of protein, and red meat may also be included more sparingly.”

Here are a few high protein foods to try:

  • Meats: beef, pork, lamb, veal
  • Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
  • Fish: salmon, haddock, prawns, mussels
  • Eggs
  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu

Looking for more information on how to lose weight by changing what you eat? Check out our guides on how to follow a vegan diet for weight loss and how to follow a Mediterranean diet for weight loss.

How Much Protein Do You Need Each Day

HOW TO Increase Protein Intake / What I Eat In a Day / High Protein

Due to the wide range of actions that proteins are responsible for, the RDA for protein is 0.8g/kg/d, which is the minimum you should look to get in. The optimal intake depends on your body composition, training goals and other calorie and macronutrient requirements. In athletic individuals training for a certain goal, optimal intakes can range from 1.2 2.5g/kg/d.1 For those dieting and aiming to lose weight, protein intakes may need to be on the upper end of that range as evidence shows keeping protein intake during an energy deficit will help preserve your lean muscle mass.2

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