Has reading about protein intake, and listening to nutritionists talk about optimum protein consumption left you wondering, “How much protein should I eat?” or “How much protein is too much?” or “Am I completing my daily protein intake?” Trying to figure out how much protein per day in the right amount is critical to our overall health and well-being, can be a real challenge. The popularity of high-protein diets has hit the newsstands and social media feeds of consumers all over the world.
This is not only because it can be delicious but also because proteins are the building blocks of our systems. You can find bits of protein everywhere in our bodies, like in our muscles, bones, skin, hair, and pretty much any other tissue. There are at least 10,000 proteins that make up your unique body and keep you moving throughout the day.
Inside every protein is twenty plus amino acids. We cannot store these building blocks. Instead, our bodies make them from complete scratch or by modifying essential amino acids available in food items. We need these food items to make our bodies healthy. These are the critical elements to answering how much protein I should eat.
How Many Grams of Protein Do I Need?
Everyone has an optimal level of how many grams of protein per day they should be taking in through food sources. The ideal number will vary depending on your age, gender, weight, fitness goals, and activity level. You need protein as part of a vital biochemical function that helps you grow, develop, and repair any tissue damage. Protein is one of the three "macronutrients" that get tracked with fitness apps, along with carbohydrates and fat.
Popular diets use protein to ramp up our metabolism and burn more stored fat. That is why you hear so many weight lifters turning to protein powders because they want to burn fat and convert it to muscle in a gym. However, your personal requirements may vary.
Most nutritionists will use a weight-based recommended daily allowance (RDA) to determine your daily protein intake. That is equal to 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. That means a 150-pound human being who does not do any kind of physical activity would need roughly 54.4 grams of protein in their daily diet.
If you are an active person, trying to lose weight, or trying to add muscle, you will most likely need significantly more protein to achieve your goals. You want at least 10% of your calories coming from protein as a general rule.
The more crucial consideration is the type of protein you are consuming more than the amount. Try to stick to lean meats like chicken and fish or other sources like yogurt or beans. Not only will this keep you away from high cholesterol foods, but it will also give you the added benefits of those nutrient-rich items.
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What If I Want an All Protein Diet?
Yes, there are plenty of people trying diets that are high in protein. More recently, there have been keto-based diets that try to eliminate all carbohydrates of any kind and focus more on protein and fat. The problem here is your daily protein requirements are not the only need your body has. Every human being is a complicated machine of millions of processes that require specific nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that can be found in a well-balanced and carefully sourced diet.
While you could eat an all-protein diet, you are tipping the scales too far in one direction. People that eat incredibly high protein diets tend to have more kidney stones or increase the chances of heart disease and colon cancer due to more red meats or secondary fats from animal proteins.
Again, this is why if you are going to stick to a primary protein diet, you need to use foods like fish, chicken, soy, beans, nuts, and fat dairy. This way, you get the benefits of other macronutrients besides just being focused on protein.
Think about it this way, how much protein is too much, is kind of like filling your car with gas. You need that fuel to power your vehicle and go from point A to point B, but if you keep the nozzle open, you will spill gas all over the place. Protein is the same. Our bodies cannot store extra protein. Once we hit our quota, we convert it into energy or fat. That is why it makes more sense to stick to a balanced diet where we can use up the fuel in our bodies and then get more when necessary.
What is the Recommended Protein Intake for Weight Loss?
We all want that glorious summer body that turns heads. It does not matter if you are male or female. Being the target of affection is a great feeling and having a fit body is highly desirable by practically everyone on the planet.
Protein does help in weight management because it can increase energy burning by ramping up your metabolic rate. The better and more efficient your metabolism, the more calories you burn. This also reduces your appetite. That is why you hear so many nutritionists and weight loss enthusiasts talking about the power of eggs or other proteins first thing in the morning.
Using roughly 25-30% of your daily calories from a protein source can boost your metabolism up to 100 calories a day in an extra burn. The better factor, though, is appetite suppression. While we can all dream of custom-made meals at regular 3-hour increments day in and day out, the reality is, that having a healthy way to curb those midnight chocolate cravings is a far more effective tool for reducing our belt size.
An excellent study demonstrated that men with obesity reduced snacking desires or obsessive food thoughts by up to 60% when introducing at least 25% of their caloric intake from high-quality protein consumption.
Will Protein Help Me Gain Muscle?
Yes. Your muscles are primarily made from protein building blocks. The best way to improve muscle mass is by systematically breaking down and then rebuilding the structure through repetitive tasks like swimming, rowing, biking, running, lifting weights, yoga, and HIIT training.
To get quality muscle mass, you need to synthesize more muscle protein than you break down. A greater intake of protein sources in your daily meals will help you build muscle and strength. That does not mean you need to ratchet up your daily recommended protein to astronomical values well beyond what is normal. It means that there is value in considering a different calculation of 1 gram of protein per pound.
This will end with a significantly high bump in your protein intake, and you should always consult a physician before you take such a drastic change, but that is the common belief of workout die-hards.
What Foods are Best for Protein Intake?
There are two primary forms of protein that we get from food- those being incomplete and complete proteins. Remember those 9 essential amino acids? When a portion of food has all those beauties, we get a complete serving of protein. When a portion of food does not have all 9, we get an incomplete serving.
In general, and we use that term lightly, animal products will have complete proteins. These are items like chicken, eggs, dairy, and seafood. On the other hand, plant-based food products like rice and vegetables will have the most incomplete proteins.
The good news is there are plenty of combinations and healthy sources of protein that do not come from animal sources if you prefer a more vegan, vegetarian, or another specialty diet.
Some of the more common foods with excellent protein intake include:
- Whole Eggs (6.3g per one large egg)
- Almonds (6g per one ounce)
- Chicken Breast (26.7g per half a chicken breast)
- Cottage Cheese (28g per one cup)
- Greek Yogurt (19.9g per 7 ounces container)
- Milk (8.32g per one cup)
- Lentils (9.02g per 1/2cup cooked)
- Lean Beef (24.6g per 3 ounces)
- Fish (30.5g per half a salmon fillet)
- Quinoa (8g per one cup)
- Protein Powders (usually 20g per scoop)
There are plenty of other sources like Ezekiel bread, rice and bean combinations, and even pumpkin seeds. It is vital that you look at the nutritional value of a meal and consider the per-serving amount so you can get a better idea of what you are taking in for that food.
Getting Help in Your Nutrition Choices
If all of this is overwhelming or you simply do not have the time to prepare your meals with careful consideration to how much protein you need a day, turn to the experts at 95 Nutrition. Our Buffalo-based team will help prepare delicious meals full of quality nutritional content designed just for your body.
Browse our many menu options today and find a solution to your protein needs. We look forward to helping you get a quality meal full of macronutrient balance to get you through the day!