How Much Protein Should You Eat?

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Adequate protein intake is crucial throughout our lives. If you do not get enough protein in your diet, your body will suffer. And if you eat too much protein for long periods, several health concerns may arise. To avoid the complications of not having appropriate protein intake levels, you should know how much protein you should eat. But before that, let us first discuss what protein is and what it does to our bodies.

What is Protein and its Benefits?

Protein is an important nutrient that plays a significant role in every tissue of our bodies. It is found in our media, our muscles, and in our skin. Proteins are responsible for repairing, building, and maintaining various tissues, as quite as transporting other nutrients or making important bodily hormones and enzymes. In short, it is a powerful nutrient that we need to survive.

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

Now that we know protein's characteristics and their benefits, the next question to answer is, how much protein should you have? Well, the amount of protein that you need for your body each day varies on your age, activity level, and gender.

Ways to Determine the Amount of Protein Needs?

There are many ways to know how much protein you should take. You can either calculate it using your weight details or calorie intake.

Calculating Protein Needs Based on Weight

As per the recommendation of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, a healthy adult should get a minimum of  0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of the body weight.

For example, for every twenty pounds (20 lbs) of body weight, you need to have seven grams (7 gms) of protein, which would be fifty grams (50 gms) of protein per day if a person weighs one hundred and forty pounds (140 lbs.).

To do the math, convert your weight into kilograms. One kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds. The next thing you do is multiply 0.8 pounds to your weight in kilograms.

Calculating Protein Needs Based on Daily Calorie Intake

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines state that adults consume about ten and thirty-five percent of their total daily calories from protein. So, in order to know how much protein you need to take, you will need to find out your daily consumption of calories. Once you know your daily caloric intake, multiply it by 0.10 and 0.35 to get its ten and thirty-five percent. Example, if your daily caloric intake is 2200, then you need 220 to 770 calories per day from protein.

Calculating Protein Needs Based on Lean Body Mass

Another method to figure out the number of protein requirements involves taking into account your lean body mass and activity level. Many health and fitness experts believe that this is the most accurate way among all other options.

1. Get your Lean Body Mass

First, determine your lean body mass (LBM). LBM is your body weight that does not include body fat. It includes your muscle, bones, organs, water, and other tissues. The easiest way to get LBM is by subtracting your body fat from the total of your body mass.

To get your body fat: You can use this tool, just type in the details asked.

Finally, to get your lean body mass, deduct your body’s fat weight from your body weight. So its Body weight - Body fat = LBM.

For instance, if you weigh 140 pounds, and your body fat is 40, then your LBM is 100.

2. Compute your Daily Protein Need

To calculate your daily protein need, use your lean body mass (LBM) and multiply it by your activity level. If your activity level is:

  • Sedentary (if you are generally inactive): multiply your LBM by 0.5
  • Light activity (if you do some walking): multiply your LBM by 0.6
  • Moderate (if you do 30 minutes of moderate activity for three times a week): multiply your LBM by 0.7
  • Active (if you perform at least one hour of exercise for five times each week): multiply your LBM by 0.8
  • Very active (if you do about 10 to 20 hours of exercise per week): multiply your LBM by 0.9
  • Athlete (if you spend time exercising for over 20 hours of  each week): multiply your LBM by 1.0

Using this method, for example, a one hundred and fifty pounds (150 lbs) person with an LBM of 105 would need dietary protein requirements of one hundred and twenty grams (120 gms) if you are athletic.

What are Foods High in Dietary Protein?

Here are some dairy and meat examples that are high in protein (not in order):

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Lean beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Tuna
  • Fish
  • Shrimp

Other sources of protein that are plant-based include:

  • Soy products (tofu, edamame beans, tempeh)
  • Buckwheat
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Hummus and pita
  • Spirulina
  • Peanut butter on toast
  • Other types of bread
  • Hemp and chia seeds
  • Quinoa

By eating appropriate amounts of protein, you can be sure that you don’t run the risk of missing out the benefits and critical functions of this nutrient.


About the Author:

Mike Zhang is the founder of the MZF Group. He graduated from the University of Toronto on the dean's list with a Masters Degree in science.  Mike was a two time National Muay Thai Champion, and a strength and conditioning coach to several learned athletes. He has over 14 years of experience as a Muay Thai Coach.