Protein is essential to existence. Protein is the “glue” that holds every cell in your body together, from your hair to your fingernails to your muscles, and it is also the building block of many vital hormones and antibodies. It is essential to drink an adequate quantity of protein daily.
The amount of protein you need depends on various factors, including your diet, age, health, activity level, and, for pregnant women, whether you are consuming two. But how much do you need per day?
Here, we explain how much protein you need to consume, how to calculate your demands, how much protein is excessive, and who may require more protein.
How Much Protein Do You Need Each Day?
According to a 2005 report published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, current guidelines established by the Institute of Medicine in 2002 recommend that adults 19 and older ingest 10% to 35% of their daily calories from protein. A 2,000-calorie diet corresponds to 200 to 700 calories from protein. Multiplying 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight yields a second method for calculating the daily protein requirements. It translates to 54 g of protein for a female weighing 150 pounds and 65 g for a man weighing 180 pounds.
Here are some examples of foods that contain 10 grams of protein:
- 2 tiny embryos
- 2.25 teaspoons of peanut butter
- 1 cup prepared quinoa
- 3/4 cup black beans simmered
- 1 cup of raw oats
- 1 ounce of Greek yogurt
Since meat is a vital source of protein for many people, here is a helpful trick for calculating the grams of protein in the majority of meats: A 3- to 4-ounce portion of meat (a piece of flesh about the size of a deck of cards) contains approx 30 grams of protein.
But there’s a catch: The IOM’s recommendations establish the minimum quantity of protein you must consume to stay within this essential nutrient; insufficient protein can result in progressive muscle loss and other health problems.
According to a 2019 review released in nutrients, the latest study suggests that consuming between 1.3 g and 1.8 g of protein per kilos of body weight (approx 88 g to 122 g for women and 105 g to 145 g for men) may be ideal for health, especially when it comes to avoiding age-related muscle loss.
Do I Need More Protein?
Does this imply that you may consume a 12-ounce steak for dinner? Not precisely.
In the United States, protein deficiency is uncommon, and if you consume a varied diet, there is no need to “beef up” your protein intake. But how you distribute protein throughout the day may be just as important as how much you consume.
The protein intake of Americans skew: We typically consume less protein in the morning and more in the evening. However, research indicates that evenly dividing your protein intake is the most effective muscle support method.
Avocado & Smoked Salmon Omelet
A 2014 study released in the Journal of Nutrition found that individuals who consumed approximately 30 g of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner each experienced 25% greater muscle growth than those who consumed the same total amount predominantly at dinner.
In a 2020 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that healthy young males who evenly distributed their protein intake across three meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — experienced more significant muscle growth than those who had a low-protein breakfast and consumed the majority of their protein at lunch and dinner. Additionally, participants in both groups engaged in strength training.
Jessica Crandall, RDN, a licensed personal trainer and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explains, “Because we do not have a storage form of protein in our bodies other than our muscles if we don’t consume protein at each meal, we may be losing muscle mass.” And less muscle mass may result in a slowed metabolism, making weight loss more difficult.
Try two eggs with a bowl of yogurt and fruit for breakfast or oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and pumpkin seeds. Add a half-breast of chicken or a half-can of beans to your salad for a protein boost at lunch.
How Much Is Too Much Protein?
Consuming excessive protein can lead to deficiencies in carbohydrates (such as fiber) and healthful fats. Experts recommend destroying approximately one-third of your daily calories from protein and a maximum of 2 g/kg body weight.
That is about 140 to 160 g per day. According to a study published in Nature Medicine in 2022, consuming too many specific protein sources, such as red meat, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and certain malignancies; therefore, consuming various protein sources is beneficial.
In the past, there was concern that protein consumption increased the risk of kidney stones or osteoporosis (protein digestion generates acids that must be neutralized by calcium, which you can draw from bones).
Still, research has shown that this is no longer a concern. In fact, according to a study published in Nutrition Today in 2019, consuming foods at the higher end of the recommended range may be beneficial for bone health, mainly when calcium intake is adequate. Protein consumption is unlikely to be harmful unless you have kidney disease.
Factors That Impact Your Protein Needs
Since protein is not a one-size-fits-all nutrient, some individuals require more and may have difficulty obtaining it.
Vegans or Vegetarians
Plant-based diets don’t necessarily mean low protein intake if you eat enough calories. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says “complete” and “incomplete” protein are misleading. “Protein through a variety of plant foods consumed during the day provides sufficient quantities of all essential amino acids when caloric needs are met,” the Academy noted in 2016.
Vegetarians and vegans may need to pay more attention to which foods provide the most protein per calorie than the average meat consumer. Still, a varied diet that includes protein-rich legumes and soy will keep your body and muscles functioning normally. Eggs, Greek yogurt, almonds, quinoa, and peanut butter are excellent vegetarian protein sources.
Protein is not only a concern for shake-guzzling bodybuilders seeking to develop muscle and elite distance runners attempting to maintain it. Protein is required at all levels of fitness.
The IOM’s recommendations were based on research involving sedentary individuals. According to their 2016 joint position statement in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the Dietitians of Canada advise active individuals to consume up to 2 g/kg of body weight daily in divided doses. You can achieve Optimal results by drinking 15 to 25 gm of protein within an hour after an exertion (1 cup of milk, 1 ounce of almonds, and 5 dried apricots, for instance).
Does consuming more protein improve performance? No, says Crandall, and research indicates that the benefits plateau at the recommended doses.
“It’s similar to adding laundry detergent to your clothes; it won’t make them cleaner, but having the right amount at the right time is crucial,” explains Crandall.
In addition, the type of protein you consume may provide an athletic advantage.
Leucine-rich foods may be the most effective for muscle maintenance, repair, and growth. Amino acids are the building components of proteins.
Lucine-rich foods include milk, soybeans, salmon, beef, chicken, eggs, and peanuts. While you should strive to fulfill your protein needs through dietary sources, whey protein supplements are high in leucine and supported by scientific evidence.
Age 65 and Over
The cells in our bodies grow less efficient at converting the protein we consume into new muscle as we age. The result is progressive muscle loss, diminished strength, frailty, and mobility loss. But you can deliver a one-two punch to Father Time by remaining active and consuming enough protein.
Protein is beneficial for more than just the maintenance of muscle mass. In a review published in Biomedicines in 2022, researchers note that adequate protein consumption is also required for wound healing, skin integrity, immunity, and recovery from illness — all of which become increasingly important as we age.
A review published in Nutrients 2018 suggests that older adults should consume like youthful athletes: Maintain a minimum daily protein intake of 1 g/kg of body weight (68 g and 80 g for a woman weighing 150 pounds and a male weighing 180 pounds, respectively).
Spread your protein intake, consuming between 25 and 30 grams at each meal, as the quantity required to stimulate muscle maintenance is more significant.
Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Rachel Brandeis, M.S., RDN, specializing in pregnancy nutrition, explains, “During the second and third trimesters, protein needs increase by at least 10 g per day because your baby is growing and needs the tools to grow.” According to the 2016 IOM prenatal recommendation, pregnant women should consume 1.1 g of protein per kg of body weight daily or approximately 70 g.
However, research, such as the 2021 review published in Nutrients, indicates that protein requirements during pregnancy may be slightly higher than these late estimates; therefore, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine how much protein you need.
As for nursing mothers, your body will require more calories and protein to produce sufficient milk.
Protein is an essential nutrient, and if you consume a varied, nutritious diet, you are likely consuming enough of it. Protein-rich foods should be consumed throughout the day, not just at dinner. And if you need more protein because you’re active, older, or pregnant, you may need to be more aware of what you’re eating to ensure you’re receiving enough.
Thank you For reading…..