For many people, there is no clear answer to the question: How much protein a day does my body need? Nutritionists have conducted several researches to calculate the recommended amounts. However, the need for daily protein intake is not consistent in most cases. With the help of simple formulas and some useful nutrition tips, you can calculate what amount of protein might be optimal for you. Below is important information about daily protein intake that can help you maintain a healthy body and build muscle at any age.
Table of Contents
- Know more about how much protein a day can help build muscle
- Possible factors for a protein requirement
Know more about how much protein a day can promote muscle growth
Protein is the stuff of life. From hair to fingernails to muscles, protein is the glue that holds every cell in the body together and makes up many important hormones and antibodies. For this reason, it’s important to get enough protein in your daily diet. New evidence suggests exactly how much protein a day depends on a variety of factors: diet, age, health, activity level, and for pregnant women, whether they should eat for two. Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you’re getting the right amount of protein each day.
Calculate protein sources and daily requirements by body weight
Current guidelines recommend adults 19 and older consume 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein. So that’s about 200 to 700 calories from protein for a 2000-calorie diet. Another way to calculate how much protein a day your body needs is to multiply 0.8 grams of it per kilogram of your body weight. This translates to about 54 grams of protein for a woman or 65 grams for a man of normal weight. Here are some examples of what protein-rich foods contain 10 grams of the essential nutrient:
- 2 small eggs
- 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans
- 1 cup uncooked oats
- 1/2 cup yogurt
Meat is an obvious source of protein, and there is a handy trick to calculating the gram weight of protein in most meats. Approximately 30 g of meat contains 7 grams of protein. Accordingly, a 90- to 120-gram serving provides about 30 grams of the nutrient. However, the recommendations specify the minimum amount of protein you must consume to avoid missing out on this vital nutrient. Not consuming enough protein could lead to progressive muscle loss and other health problems. Recent research suggests that the target is between 1.3 and 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. This accounts for approximately 88 to 122 grams for women and 105 to 145 grams for men. Such amounts may be optimal for health when it comes to preventing age-related muscle loss.
Protein deficiency and higher protein intake
The above data does not necessarily mean that you should consume a large steak for dinner. Protein deficiencies tend to be rare, and if you eat a varied diet, you won’t have to go out of your way to increase your intake. However, if you spread your protein intake throughout the day, it may be more important and healthier than the daily recommended amount. Protein consumption is usually limited in the morning, and many people consume it mostly in the evening. However, research suggests that dividing protein intake evenly is the best way to help build muscle. According to researchers, people who consumed about 30 grams of protein at each meal may have 25 percent greater muscle growth.
Since there is no storage form of protein in the body besides muscle, people may lose this muscle mass if they do not eat protein at every meal. In addition, less muscle mass could also mean a decrease in metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. For breakfast, try two eggs with a cup of yogurt and fruit or 3/4 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of yogurt and a handful of pumpkin seeds. For lunch, eat half a chicken breast or half a can of beans in your salad for a protein boost.
How much protein a day can be excessive?
Eating too much protein can mean missing out on nutrients from carbohydrates like fiber and healthy fatty acids. For this reason, experts say you should eat about one-third of your daily calories from protein. In addition, you could stick to an approximate daily maximum of 2 grams / kilogram of body weight. That’s about 140 to 160 grams per day. Excessive consumption of certain protein sources could also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. So vary your protein sources to get the most benefit. Also, don’t worry about your protein intake putting you at risk for kidney stones or osteoporosis. In fact, recent research has found that eating in the higher recommended range can be beneficial for bone health. If you don’t have kidney disease, your protein intake is unlikely to cause harm.
Possible factors for a protein requirement
Since protein is not a one-size-fits-all, there are certain groups that need more and may have a harder time getting enough. If you are eating enough calories, choosing a plant-based diet does not automatically mean you are not eating enough protein. Protein from plant foods , consumed over the course of a day, provides enough of all the indispensable (essential) amino acids when calorie needs are met. Vegetarians and vegans, however, may need to pay a little more attention than the average meat eater to which foods give them the best protein-calorie value. However, a varied diet that includes protein-rich legumes and soy will provide your body and muscles with enough.
How much protein is needed a day when exercising
Adequate protein is needed at all levels of fitness and the ability to help build muscle and act as a building block. Nutritionists recommend aiming for more protein when you are active, up to 2 grams/kilogram of body weight per day, to maintain muscle mass. In addition, consuming 15 to 25 grams of protein within an hour of exercise is recommended. An example of this would be 1 cup of milk, 30 grams of almonds and 5 dried apricots to achieve maximum results. Foods high in the amino acid leucine can be most effective for muscle repair and building. Such are milk, soybeans, salmon, beef, chicken, eggs and nuts. While you should strive to meet your protein needs from food, whey protein supplements are also rich in leucine and are a scientifically proven option.
Protein needs in older age
As we age, our bodies convert less of the protein we consume into new muscle less efficiently. The result is gradual muscle loss, which can lead to decreased strength, frailty and loss of mobility. However, this can be prevented with more physical activity and adequate protein intake. Therefore, older people are advised to eat like young athletes. Limit your daily protein intake to at least 1 gram/kilogram of body weight and distribute about 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal, as the amount of protein needed to trigger muscle maintenance is higher. According to nutritionists, men and women aged 67 to 84 who consumed the most protein and had the most even distribution among meals over two years had more muscle than those who consumed too little protein.
How much protein a day pregnant or breastfeeding women need
Protein requirements increase by at least 10 grams per day during the second and third trimesters because the baby is growing. Therefore, pregnant women should consume at least 1.1 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, or a total of 70 grams of protein. However, recent research suggests that protein requirements during pregnancy may be slightly higher than these earlier estimates. Consult a registered dietitian to see how much protein a day would be optimal for you. Nursing mothers also usually need more calories and protein to produce enough breast milk. Whether you are active, older or pregnant, you may need to watch your protein intake. This way, you can make sure you’re getting what you need.