Protein is a nutrient of utmost importance to our bodies, and understanding how much protein we should consume per day will help us in maintaining optimal health.
It is important to note that there is no universal answer to the question of how many grams of protein is good for a person to take on a daily basis. Many factors play a role in determining the right amount of protein for each individual – age, activity, physiology, and weight control or health goals. It is therefore advisable to consult a health professional to determine the right amount for your needs.
Still, let’s see what are the general guidelines when it comes to daily protein intake.
- The recommended daily dose is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for adults. This is the minimum amount needed to prevent diseases caused by protein deficiency.
- A dose of 1.2 – 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight is appropriate for athletes and people engaged in intense physical activity.
- Pregnant, lactating women and adults also need more protein – up to 1.2 – 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how much protein per day we should be consuming and how optimal amounts of protein affect lifestyle, weight loss, muscle building and maintaining activity levels.
What is protein and why is it important
Proteins are essential building blocks in the human body. They are used to build muscles, tendons, organs, and skin, as well as to regulate enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various molecules that perform important functions in the body.
Proteins are made up of smaller molecules called amino acids that bind to each other like beads. These linked amino acids form long protein chains, which then bend into complex shapes.
Your body only produces some of these amino acids, but through a proper diet you must get others, known as essential amino acids.
Not only the quantity of protein is important, but also its quality
Animal protein provides all the essential amino acids, and in the right proportion. Thanks to this harmony, we can use them to the full.
If you eat animal products such as meat, fish, eggs or dairy on a daily basis, you are probably getting enough protein.
If you don’t eat animal foods, getting all the protein and essential amino acids your body needs can be more of a challenge.
Protein is a structural molecule including amino acids, many of which our body cannot produce on its own. Animal foods are usually high in protein, providing all the essential amino acids. It’s a good idea to support the protein acquisition process by taking a variety of products enriched with high-quality protein.
How else can protein help us
It’s no secret that weight loss results from consuming fewer calories. Evidence suggests that consuming protein in any form can increase the number of calories you burn, boosting your metabolic rate and reducing cravings.
Eating 25-30% of total daily calories through protein has also been shown to boost metabolism compared to eating low protein foods.
Yet, protein’s most important contribution to weight loss is its ability to reduce appetite, which also leads to a restriction in calorie intake. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein makes us feel full for longer.
In one study of obese men, eating 25% of calories from protein increased feelings of fullness, reduced the desire to eat late at night, and reduced intrusive thoughts about food by 50% and 60%, respectively.
In another 12-week study, women who increased their protein intake by up to 30% consumed 441 fewer calories per day and lost 5 kg of weight.
High protein intake helps build and maintain muscle mass, which burns calories around the clock.
Because of its ability to satiate for long, protein makes it much easier to stick to any weight loss diet – be it high-carb or low-carb.
Protein intake aids weight loss. It increases the metabolic rate and satiates for long.
Protein gives strength
Muscles are largely made of proteins. As with most body tissues, muscles are dynamic and constantly breaking down and rebuilding.
To gain muscle, the body must synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down.
In other words, there needs to be protein balance in the body – often referred to as nitrogen balance since protein is high in nitrogen.
People who want to build muscle work out often and take extra protein. Meanwhile, those who want to maintain their muscle mass also rely on protein.
When it comes to muscle mass, it’s usually not the percentage of calories coming from protein that is considered, but rather the daily grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Numerous studies have attempted to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain, but many have come to different conclusions.
Some studies show that consuming more than 0.8 grams per kilogram does not provide much benefit, while others claim that an intake of more than 1 gram of protein per kilogram is best.
It’s important to get enough protein if you want to gain and/or maintain muscle. Most studies show that 1.6 grams per kilogram of lean mass is sufficient.
Protein during pregnancy
During pregnancy, the body needs more protein for tissue development and growth. Protein is beneficial for both mother and baby.
Food sources are the ideal way to get all kinds of nutrients during pregnancy. Focus on:
- beans, peas and lentils;
- pure meat;
- dairy products;
- nuts and seeds;
Fish and seafood are also good protein sources. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, choose fish low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies.
In some cases, your obstetrician gynecologist may recommend supplements such as a protein shake. However, there are no specific guidelines for adding extra protein during pregnancy.
Other circumstances that may increase protein requirements
If your job is physically demanding, you walk a lot, run, swim or exercise regularly, you need to eat more protein.
Endurance athletes need significant amounts of protein – about 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Older people also have significantly increased protein needs – 1 to 1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia, which are some of the common diseases among the elderly population.
What are the negative effects of protein on health
Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems. Some people believe that a high-protein diet can cause kidney damage, but science does not support these claims.
Although protein restriction is beneficial for people with existing kidney disease, there is no evidence that protein can cause kidney damage in healthy people.
In fact, higher protein intake can lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease.
How and how much protein per day to take
The best sources of protein are meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, as they contain all the essential amino acids our bodies need.
Some plants are also quite high in protein – quinoa, legumes and nuts.
If you are striving for a healthy lifestyle, make sure that almost every meal you eat includes protein in some form – food or supplement.
If you don’t need to lose weight, exercise moderately and are not an active athlete, aim for 1 – 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram.
This equates to:
- 66-91 grams per day for a man;
- 56-75 grams per day for a woman.
In this article, you found out how to calculate how much protein you should consume per day and that the optimal amount of protein is essential for maintaining good health.
Protein-rich foods and supplements can help boost energy levels, muscle growth and recovery, as well as create feelings of satiety and satisfaction from food.
As well as Active Choice products and find your tasty solution for getting an extra amount of protein. We are committed to the health and well-being of every active person.