How Much Protein Do We Need In A Day?
If You did not check out my first post on protein, check it out!
As I discussed earlier, there is a limit to how much you can have. But the amount we have is based on 3 different factors: Age, goal, activity level, and how much lean body weight we have. Before I go any further though… over eating protein may not be the best thing in the world for us. But it does not hurt from time to time. Let’s make sure we’re always keeping things in perspective!
A rule of thumb for protein intake is we take our body weight and multiply between .6-1.5 grams per POUND of body weight. Or if you speak in kilos…1.2-3.3 g/kg of body weight.
So within THIS spectrum you can start to experiment on what is a good intake for you.
Factors That Determine A Higher Protein Intake
- Age: 50+ do not use amino acids as efficiently, so increasing it would be beneficial.
- If you workout regularly and are regularly breaking down your muscle tissue, you may need that higher intake to promote building and repair of lean muscle mass.
- If you are on the leaner side. Meaning if you do not carry excess body fat around your hips, waist, chest, or arms and/or have concrete evidence that your body fat percentage is low you may side with the higher number on the spectrum of recomendation.
- If you have difficulty with hunger. Higher protein intakes have not been shown to cause any kidney disorders in reasonable amounts(1). So rest assured you can make your intake higher if you feel it’ll curb hunger pains you may have!
- If you are an athlete or an advanced fitness enthusiast in a fat burning phase. When you try to lose body fat your body will also use muscle for glucose when fat starts to get sparse… or if your protein intake is low. So keeping protein intake high will preserve your lean muscle mass as you continue to lose body fat AS LONG AS YOU ARE STRENGTH TRAINING!
Factors That Determine Lower Intake
- If you carry excess body fat. Meaning if you’re roughly 50 pounds overweight, you will have a difficult time with digestion if you’re matching it towards your bodyweight in grams. Aim for the lower end of the spectrum.
- You are sedentary and do not plan on being active. There’s no reason to keep your protein higher than .6 g/lb. In fact the Recommended Daily Allowance Calls for .8g/KILO of bodyweight. So if you’re 150lbs and sedentary 54 grams of protein per day is what the RDA calls for.
- If you are an athlete or an advanced fitness enthusiast who is in a muscle building phase. Carbohydrates and fats are protein sparing, meaning that they will preserve protein and allow you to use it more efficiently. When you’re in a muscle building phase your protein demand actually goes down. This is because your body is much less likely to use muscle for fuel since it has more ample supplies of fat and glucose to take from.
Beware of Supplement Recommendations!
Supplement companies have a big interest in you buying their products. So they will say whatever they need to on the label in order for you to buy it! You do not nececessarily need to supplement with a protein product if you’re already hitting your numbers with whole food sources!
Since high protein is not inherently going to make you drop dead. Supplement companies have the green light to market it however they want. So naturally protein companies will give higher recommendations than you may think are necessary. It’s best to avoid recommendations from the company whose business is you CONSUMING their product 🙂
Play around with your protein with the starting guide above. Some people will need more and some may need less regardless of the recommendations from above. The good thing is that high protein does not get “unhealthy” without some extreme underlying scenarios. So do not be afraid to experiment with whole food options!
- Poortmans JR, Dellalieux O. Do regular high protein diets have potential health risks on kidney function in athletes . Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2000)