Daily Recommended Protein Intake – How much should I eat each day?
August 29, 2022
There are plenty of popular diets out there that make protein the star as people look for the weight management methods that work for them. But even if you’re not a keto king, a paleo princess or following some other high-protein eating plan, healthy sources of protein should still be an important part of your daily nutrition.
Along with carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of three macronutrients that provides your body with energy. Found all throughout the body, protein plays a key role in creating and maintaining cells, including repairing muscle and strengthening bones. It also supports healthy skin, teeth, hair and nails. But how much protein a day is the right amount for you? Read on.
Protein is an essential nutrient for everyone, no matter your age, gender, height, weight, muscle mass, activity level or state of general health. But each one of those factors can be used in the many methods to determine your recommended protein intake. In fact, you can enter almost all that data into this USDA calculator to get a personalized recommendation of how many grams of protein per day you need.
If you don’t have internet access handy, you can do some simple calculations based on your weight. The World Health Organization, when determining how much protein a day should be in someone’s diet, recommends 0.83 grams of high-quality protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or about 7 ½ grams of protein per day for every 20 pounds of weight. For a person weighing 60 kilograms (about 132 pounds), that’s almost 50 grams of protein per day—or about eight eggs.
The USDA also offers recommendations in ounces of protein rather than grams, suggesting 5.5 ounces of protein each day for those on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Since weight is one of the factors used to determine the amount of daily recommended protein and since men generally weigh more than women, men generally have higher protein needs than women.
Men are also genetically designed to have a larger percentage of muscle on their bodies and a smaller amount of fat than women. And the essential amino acids found in protein are key nutrients to developing that muscle.
According to the Institute of Medicine, the general recommended protein intake for adult men is 56 grams a day while for adult women it’s 46 grams a day. Add pregnancy or breastfeeding into the mix, however, and the recommended protein intake goes up to 50-65 grams a day.
Protein can be a great tool for people looking for weight management solutions. It helps you control your appetite because it makes you feel fuller longer versus foods high in carbohydrates or fats. And that reduces the chance for random hunger pangs or snack attacks that have you reaching for foods that aren’t exactly part of your weight management plan.
Protein is also great for weight management because the essential amino acids in protein are key to developing and maintaining muscle. So if you’re reducing your daily calorie intake, it’s smart to make lean protein a larger part of the calories you do consume instead of carbohydrates or unhealthy fats.
So how much protein should you eat to lose weight? The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per day for every 1 kilogram of weight, or between .73 and 1 gram per pound for those looking to lose weight.
“How much protein to gain muscle?” is a question that should not be limited to bodybuilders, said Katie Throop, a researcher and registered dietitian working on Nutrilite™ products.
“Muscle strength comes in handy in everyday life and is helpful in avoiding injuries because muscles protect your bones as you age,” she said. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults work all major muscle groups through strength training at least two times a week.
While the general recommended protein intake is .83 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (or about .35 grams per pound), people who want to increase muscle mass through physical activity and resistance training should up that amount. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, those people should consume between 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (or 0.5-0.8 grams per pound).
Researchers are studying whether there are harmful effects of having too much protein. Even a good thing in excess can turn into something bad; that’s why moderation is so often recommended. While the powers that be in the nutrition world don’t put an upper limit on protein requirements, it’s important to look at what else is included in the protein you’re consuming.
Many sources of protein, like that marbled steak at your favorite restaurant or grilled burgers at a cookout, can also come with large amounts of calories and fat, especially saturated fat, and that can do more harm than the good achieved by the protein. Also, if you have a high protein diet, there is the chance that you’re opting for protein at the expense of other key sources of nutrients, like those ever-so-important fruits and vegetables.
So, what kind of protein is the best protein? The nutrient-dense kind. That means it’s high in nutrients but relatively low in calories. That marbled steak we talked about or the fatty burger probably doesn’t fall on that list. What you will find are leaner proteins liked trimmed steak, skinless turkey or chicken, fish, plant sources, low-fat dairy and some protein powders.
Here are a few examples:
|Roasted turkey||3 oz||135||25|
|Egg||1 large egg||71||6|
|Black beans||½ cup||114||8|
|Nonfat yogurt||1 cup||100||11|
|Cottage cheese (1% fat)||4 oz||81||14|
Most animal sources of protein are “complete proteins,” meaning they have the nine essential amino acids your body needs to get from food. Plant-based sources tend to have fewer amino acids per source, but you can get them all by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Protein powders can be made from animal sources, like whey-based powders, or plants, often peas, seeds or rice. They are a convenient way to ensure you’re getting the protein you need, especially if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Their amino acid content will vary depending on their protein source.
XS™ Protein Pods, for example, which are whey-based, are a complete protein. They help build lean muscle and fuel physical performance.† One pod, which is mixed with 6-8 ounces of water, is 90 calories and has 20 grams of protein.
Nutrilite™ Organics Plant Protein Powder is made from peas, brown rice and chia seeds. It also has all nine amino acids, but in lower amounts. One serving of the powder has 130-145 calories, depending on the flavor, and 21 grams of protein. (Bonus: It’s also a vegan protein powder and USDA certified organic.)
Now that you can figure out your daily recommended protein and have examples of healthy protein sources, you can use that information to make better choices at meal time to support your goals, whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle or just support your overall optimal health.
†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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