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How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day?

True Protein Blogger 1 by Ruby Blackhall | @rubyblackhall 31 August 2021

Protein is a highly researched micronutrient that offers many functional and structural properties vital for maintaining optimal health. While its significance in the diet is widely known, its quantity in foods is not, and so the question remains, how much protein should we be consuming per day?

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How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day?

What is protein, and why do we need it?

 

Protein is a nutrient made up of amino acids that the body uses to create hormones and enzymes as well as build and repair cells, muscles and bones. It can also promote proper growth and development throughout our life stages, and promote muscle growth, maintenance and recovery. Our body can make some amino acids itself, however some it cannot, therefore they are deemed essential as we must get them from our diet.

 

We can find protein in lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes, beans, fish and seafood. Different foods contain a different make up of amino acids. Therefore it’s important to consume a combination of these foods to get an appropriate mix of essential amino acids. To know how much of these foods we should be consuming, we first need to find out how much protein our body requires.

 

How much protein per day?

 

Your protein requirements will differ depending on your activity level, muscle mass, gender, weight, and fitness goals. For the average sedentary adult, the Dietary Reference Intake Report (RDI) suggests we should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, or between 10% and 35% of your total calorie intake per day. This recommendation is the minimal requirement to maintain basic nutritional requirements, although most of us need more than that.

 

Above, we can see the average for a sedentary adult; however, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that the more active you are, the more protein your body needs. If we want to reap the maximum benefits of protein, we should be eating more than what the RDI suggests. Advice on protein requirements varies due to conflicting study results; however, recent scientific research states that the recommended daily protein intake is around 30% of our daily calories. For someone consuming 2000 calories per day, this equates to 600 of these calories coming from high protein foods. Consuming this amount of protein could even help to lessen the risk of obesity and support the increasing need for protein as we age.


Daily Protein Intake Depending on Gender 


Daily protein requirements will differ depending on gender. Males generally require more protein than females as they have more muscle mass and a higher calorie intake. So, using the 30% rule, a female that consumes 2000 calories per day will be eating 600 calories of protein and a male that consumes 2500 calories per day will be eating 750 calories of protein.


Daily Protein Intake for Muscle Growth and Weight Loss


Protein intake also correlates to your muscle mass, meaning the higher your muscle mass, the more protein you require to maintain and repair it. If your goal is to build muscle, you will need to consume more protein combined with strength training to build it. If you are looking to gain or maintain muscle studies, suggest between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For an 80kg male, this equates to between 130 and 175 grams of protein per day.

 

On the other hand, if your goal is to lose weight, you will lose a combination of fat and muscle mass. However, you should aim to lose more fat than muscle. A high protein diet can help with weight loss as high protein foods often keep you fuller for longer, support your metabolism and help preserve lean body mass. People looking to lose weight should aim to consume 30% of their daily calories from high protein foods.

 

What does this amount of protein look like?

 

Now that we know how much protein we should be consuming, we can look at how many calories and grams of protein are actually in the foods we eat.

 

Food

Protein

Calories

1 Egg

6g 

78

100g Chicken Breast

31g

165

100g Greek Yogurt

10g 

59 

85g Lean Beef

25g

186

100g Salmon

22g

206

1 cup Lentils

17g

230

30g True WPI 90

25g

111


Key Takeaways

  • Protein is an essential nutrient of which we should consume an adequate amount

  • Protein intake will differ depending on activity level, gender and fitness goals

  • We should aim to receive 30% of our daily calories from high protein foods

  • Between 1.6g and 2.2g of protein per kg of body weight is recommended if your goal is to gain or maintain muscle

  • Including a source of protein in every meal will help to reach these daily protein targets

References

  1. Dolson, L. (2016). How to Calculate Your Protein Needs. [online] Verywell Fit. Available at: https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-calculate-how-much-protein-you-need-3955709.

  2. Better Health (2012). Protein. [online] Vic.gov.au. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/protein.

  3. www.sclhealth.org. (n.d.). How Much Protein Is Simply Too Much? [online] Available at: https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2019/07/how-much-protein-is-simply-too-much/.doi:10.3402/mehd.v26.26191.

  4. Nutrition, T. (n.d.). Protein Calculator: Get Your Optimal Daily Needs. [online] www.trifectanutrition.com. Available at: https://www.trifectanutrition.com/protein-calculator [Accessed 5 Aug. 2021].doi:10.3402/mehd.v26.26191.

  5. Dieter, B. (n.d.). Protein and Weight Loss: How Much Protein Should You Eat to Lose Weight? [online] blog.nasm.org. Available at: https://blog.nasm.org/nutrition/how-much-protein-should-you-eat-per-day-for-weight-lossdoi:10.3402/mehd.v26.26191.

  6. Healthy Eating | SF Gate. (n.d.). The Recommended Daily Protein for Men Vs. Women. [online] Available at: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/recommended-daily-protein-men-vs-women-5141.html.doi:10.3402/mehd.v26.26191.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: all content provided here is of a general nature only and is not a substitute for individualised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and reliance should not be placed on it. For personalised medical or nutrition advice, please make an appointment with your doctor, dietitian or qualified health care professional.

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