How much protein do you need daily
*We are going to dive into the basics of macronutrients in a 3 part series. Part 1 will be about the macronutrient protein.
By far the biggest deficiency I see in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is the macronutrient protein.
You'll find protein "minimums" all over the internet... the standard you'll see most frequently is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
That minimum protein intake is a standard to ensure you don't get sick. It's just enough to support bodily functions.
I don't know about you, but I prefer to know what is optimal; what will make me feel, look and perform my best.
So you can disregard that 0.8g/kg of body weight recommendation.
How much protein do you REALLY need to get the most out of your diet? Let's take a look.
For the sake of this blog post, I am going to assume you're doing some type of resistance training multiple times per week (you should start if you aren't doing so).
1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass is recommended as a minimum to maintain your muscle mass, support optimal hormone production, aid in recovery from your workouts and support a healthy metabolism.
Much less than this will effect your ability to build and maintain muscle (crucial to your metabolism and joint health) and recover adequately from your workouts.
Notice I said lean body mass. Lean body mass is all of the stuff in your body that is NOT fat. So you would have to have some idea of your body fat percentage to get an accurate protein goal.
Example: 150lbs person is 25% body fat (leaving 75% to their lean mass).
150 x .75 = 112.5g of protein as a daily requirement for maintenance
Now if you have a specific goal of losing body fat or gaining muscle, your protein requirements will be higher.
If you're looking to change your body composition (add more muscle and/or lose body fat) I recommend you consume around 0.8 - 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Why? Because protein...
Aids in the recovery process (tissue repair)
Supports good immune function (staying healthy, fighting sickness)
Helps maintain healthy body composition (low body fat and a healthy amount of muscle)
Keeps you satiated (fuller longer)
Now that you know how much protein you should eat, we can discuss where you get it from and when you eat it.
When you eat protein is just as important as how much you eat protein. You cannot simply consume a huge steak at night that contains the ideal amount of protein and call it a day. The body can only metabolize and store so much protein at one time.
This means we need a steady flow of protein (amino acids) through out our day.
So you need to be eating protein at EVERY meal. Yes, every time you eat I want you to ask yourself "where is the protein?"
For example, a lot of people eat a breakfast full of carbohydrates --- cereal, oatmeal, toast, bagel, donuts, granola bar, etc. --- but always lack adequate protein.
You MUST start your day with protein such as eggs and meats or making a meal replacement breakfast shake.
Which foods contain protein? This list will have the OPTIMAL sources of protein at the top..
Milk protein blends
The EASIEST way to improve your metabolism (how efficiently you USE the calories/food you eat) is to eat more protein.
So there you have it - your daily recommended amount of protein based on your goal.
Stay tuned for part 2 about carbohydrates and part 3 about fats.
And if you're looking for help with your eating habits and nutrition, reach out to us. We can help!
- Nicole Race, Owner of Elevate, Certified Precision Nutrition Level 1