How Much Protein Do I Really Need? Here’s What Science Says.
Yes, you need to be eating a sufficient amount of protein. Protein is an essential nutrient for building and repairing tissues, as well as for many other important bodily functions. But determining how much protein a person needs can be a complex process, as it varies depending on a variety of factors, such as a person’s age, sex, activity health, dietary restrictions, and overall health. So…how much protein do I really need? And is there such a thing as eating too much protein?
Here are the dietary recommendations for how much protein you really need to be eating, the potential risks of excessive protein intake, and other tips for consuming protein in a healthy and balanced way.
Related: Sign up to receive delicious recipes, expert advice, and shopping tips in your inbox!
Here’s how much protein your body needs
According to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. That means a person who weighs 72 kg (160 pounds) should eat about 58 grams of protein per day. Protein should make up 10% to 35% of your daily caloric intake. So if you were to do the math, one gram of protein makes up for 4 calories. So 58 grams of protein would be 232 calories.
It’s important to consume protein in a healthy and balanced way. This means choosing lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and legumes, and limiting your intake of red and processed meats. It also means balancing your protein intake with other important nutrients, such as carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Certain groups may need more protein.
While the general recommendation is to eat 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, certain types of groups — based on dietary restrictions, activity level, and age — will actually require more protein than normal.
Vegetarians and vegans
Vegetarians and vegans may need to consume more protein than the average person, as plant-based sources of protein are often less bioavailable than animal-based sources. Nutrition experts recommend that vegetarians and vegans consume 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This translates to about 65 grams of protein per day for a person who weighs 72 kg (160 pounds).
Related: 8 Complete Protein Combinations for Plant-Based Foodies
Athletes and bodybuilders often require more protein than the average person. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, athletes who engage in moderate to intense training may need up to 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This translates to about 86 to 122 grams of protein per day for a person who weighs 72 kg (160 pounds).
Older adults may also need more protein than younger adults. As people age, their bodies become less efficient at breaking down and absorbing protein. The International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that older adults consume 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This translates to about 72 to 86 grams of protein per day for a person who weighs 72 kg (160 pounds).
Yes, you can eat too much protein.
While protein is an important nutrient, consuming too much of it can have negative health effects. Excessive protein intake can strain the kidneys, cause dehydration, and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Plus, when consumed in excess, protein can contribute to weight gain. This is because excess protein is often stored in the body as fat. Additionally, consuming a high-protein diet may lead to increased calorie intake, as many high-protein foods are also high in calories. It’s important to consume protein in moderation and to balance it with other important nutrients in order to maintain a healthy weight.
The bottom line
In conclusion, while the amount of protein a person needs varies depending on a variety of factors, the general recommendation from the DRI is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Most people can meet their protein needs by consuming a balanced diet that includes a variety of protein sources. However, it’s important to consume protein in moderation and to choose healthy sources of protein in order to maintain optimal health.
Read next: The 6 Best Plant-Based Protein Sources To Add to Your Diet
Good food brings people together. So do good emails.