“Protein is King.” Very few nutrients are as important as protein. If you don’t get enough protein through your diet, your health suffer. There are different opinions on how much protein human body actually need. Or how much protein per day you should include in your diet?
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.
This amounts to:
- 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
- 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
Though this amount may be enough to prevent any deficiency, studies show that it’s far from sufficient to ensure optimal health and body composition.
Right amount of protein for any individual depends on various factors, including activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health.
Here we take a look at optimal amounts of protein and how lifestyle factors like weight loss, muscle building and activity levels factor in.
What Is Protein and Why Should You Care?
Proteins are the main building blocks of your body, they are used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve many important functions.
Without protein, life would not be possible.
They are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together like beads on a string. These linked amino acids form long protein chains, which are then folded into complex shapes.
Some of these amino acids can be produced by your body, while you must get others through your diet. These are called essential amino acids.
Generally, animal protein provides all important amino acids in the right ratio for you to make full use of them — as animal tissues are similar to your own tissues.
If you’re eating animal products like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy every day, you’re getting right protein already.
Weight Loss and Weight Gain-
Protein is very important when it comes to losing weight.
You need to take in fewer calories than you burn to lose weight.
Protein around 25–30% of total daily calories has been proven to boost metabolism by up to 80–100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets.
It has ability to reduce appetite and cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. It keeps you feeling full much better than both fat and carbs.
One study in obese men showed that protein at 25% of calories increased feelings of fullness, reduced the desire for snacking by half and reduced obsessive thoughts for food by 60%.
Another study for women, increased their protein intake to 30% of calories ended up eating 441 fewer calories per day and lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks — simply by adding more protein in their diet.
It helps you build and preserve muscle mass, which burns a small amount of calories. Eating more protein makes it much easier to stick to any weight loss diet.
According to studies, a protein intake of around 30% of calories is optimal for weight loss. This amounts to 150 grams per day for someone on a 2000-calorie diet.
You can calculate it by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.
Gain Muscle and Strength–
Muscles are largely made of protein.
Muscles are dynamic and constantly being broken down and rebuilt.
To gain muscle, your body must synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down. There needs to be a net positive protein balance in your body often called nitrogen balance, as protein is high in nitrogen.
A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg.
Other scientists have estimated the protein needs to be a minimum of 0.7 grams per pound, or 1.6 grams per kg.
Any Negative Health Effects?
Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems. Some people believe that a high-protein diet cause kidney damage and osteoporosis.
These claims are not supported by science. Though protein restriction is helpful for people with pre-existing kidney problems, protein has never been shown to cause kidney damage in healthy people.
In fact, a higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease.
Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to stay healthy.
Best Sources of Protein-
The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs and dairy products, as they have all the essential amino acids your body needs.
Some plants are high in protein as well, such as quinoa, legumes and nuts.
If you’re a healthy person trying to stay healthy, then simply eating good quality protein with your meals, along with nutritious plant foods will bring your intake to an optimal range.
For Average Person?
If you’re a healthy person with proper weight, and don’t exercise much, then aim for 0.36–0.6 grams per pound (0.8–1.3 gram per kg).
This amounts to:
- 56–91 grams per day for the average male.
- 46–75 grams per day for the average female.