How Much Protein Should You Eat In A Day [Quiz]

When it comes to your body, protein intake depends on many factors, including your activity level, age, muscle mass, and more. However, there are some general guidelines that you can follow.

The DRI is a set of dietary reference intakes established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). These are made up of four different guidelines RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), EAR (Estimated Average Requirement), AI (Adequate Intake), and UL (Tolerable Upper Limit). For protein, the RDA is used to set general intake goals.

Let’s take a look at all things protein, including how much you need, the best sources, and when to eat it.

What is protein?

If you’re new to the world of health, eating, and fitness, you may be wondering, “What is protein?” Protein is a macronutrient, which means it is one of the three main nutrients your body needs in large amounts to function properly. Along with carbohydrates and fats, protein plays an important role in your overall health, including energy, muscle growth, repair, and maintenance.

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. When you eat protein-rich foods, your body breaks down the amino acids and uses them to repair and grow muscle tissue. There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are considered essential, meaning your body can’t make them on its own and you must get them from your diet.

When you exercise, your muscles break down and need protein to repair themselves and grow back stronger. That’s why protein is often referred to as the “building block of muscle.” The more exercise you do, the more protein your body needs to support muscle growth and repair. Also, protein helps you feel fuller after eating, so it can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Why is protein important to your health?

Protein is an important nutrient for your health. It plays a role in many of your body’s functions, including muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. Protein is also necessary for proper immune function, fluid balance, and hormone production.

Protein is responsible for:

  • Construction and repair of muscle tissue.
  • Production of enzymes and hormones.
  • Boost immune function
  • Regulation of fluid balance
  • keep a healthy weight

Additionally, protein is a key nutrient for satiety, or the feeling of fullness after eating. This is because protein takes longer to digest than carbs and fat, so it makes you feel fuller for longer. This can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

How much protein should you eat in a day?

As a general rule, most people need 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be aiming for 54 grams of protein per day. However, there are many factors that can affect your protein needs, including your activity level, age, muscle mass, and more. Let’s take a look at everything to consider when calculate your daily protein intake.

Calculate your protein consumption goal

Protein Considerations

Age and Weight

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein increases with age. This is because as you get older, your muscle mass starts to decline. To help make up for this loss of muscle mass, your body needs more protein. The recommended daily dose of protein is:

  • 0.36 grams per pound of body weight for adults 18 years and older
  • 0.45 grams per pound of body weight for adults 50 years and older

While this is the RDA, studies have shown that higher intake is associated with better bone health, fracture prevention, and increased bone mineral density (two).

There is too much of a good thing, so eating too much protein can result in not getting enough of other nutrients, constipation, and other unfavorable side effects.

Risks of too much protein

activity level

If you have an active lifestyle, you need more protein than someone who is sedentary. This is because protein helps repair and build muscle tissue. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. When you exercise, your body also breaks down muscle tissue. To help repair this muscle tissue, you need protein. The recommended daily dose of protein is:

  • 1-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.45-0.64 g/lb of body weight for sedentary or lightly active individuals
  • 1.4-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.64-0.9 g/lb of body weight for athletes and very active people

The pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you need more protein to support the growth of the baby. The RDA for pregnancy is 0.88 to 1.1 g/kg of body weight, while one study found that requirements may be closer to 1.2 to 1.52 g/kg (3).

Ask your doctor specifically for protein recommendations during pregnancy and lactation. It may surprise you to learn that nutritional needs are often higher during lactation than during pregnancy.

chronic kidney disease

CKD is one of the rare cases where protein may be slightly limited. This is because your kidneys may not be able to process all the protein you eat. If you have CKD5 end-stage renal disease and are on dialysis, your protein needs may be higher. Ask your doctor or nephrology dietitian how much protein you should eat if you have chronic kidney disease.

The best sources of protein

Did you know that you can get all the protein you need from plant sources? For years it was thought that plant-based proteins had to be combined in a single meal to form a complete protein. It is now known that the overall amino acid profile throughout the day should be sufficient to create complete proteins when consuming a variety of plant-based sources.

But if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, there are plenty of healthy, high-protein foods that we typically think of when we say protein to choose from.

Choosing a variety of plant-based and protein sources is a great way to ensure you’re getting a variety of different nutrients.

Animal protein sources

  • Eggs: A large egg has about 6 grams of protein and is also a good source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Meat: Beef, pork, and lamb are excellent sources of protein. Choose leaner cuts of meat to reduce your saturated fat intake.
  • Seafood: Fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and mollusks are excellent sources of protein.
  • Poultry: Poultry is a lean source of protein that is also low in calories.
  • Dairy products: Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in protein and calcium. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy most of the time to limit your intake of saturated fat.

Plant-based protein sources

  • Beans: Beans are a great source of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. They can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to soups to burritos.
  • Green peas: Peas are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins. They can be eaten alone or added to other dishes.
  • lentils: Lentils are another type of legume rich in protein and fiber. They can be used in soups, salads or as a garnish.
  • Tofu: Tofu is made from processed soybeans with a high protein content and comes in different levels of firmness. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to sauces.
  • tempeh: Tempeh is a type of soybean that is fermented and has a chewy texture. It is often used as a meat substitute in dishes like sandwiches and burgers.
  • edamame: Edamame is immature soybeans that are high in protein. They can be eaten as a snack or added to salads or other dishes.
  • Walnuts: Nuts are a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. They can be eaten alone or added to other dishes.
  • Seeds: The seeds are a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. They can be eaten alone or added to other dishes.

Both animal and vegetable proteins are quality protein sources. It is recommended to consume a variety as part of a healthy diet.

protein time

Overall consumption is the most important, but timing can play a role. Why? Because the timing of protein intake can influence the level of satiety, muscle growth, protein synthesis and recovery. When it comes to muscle building and recovery, the timing of your protein intake is important. Research has shown that consuming protein during training can have a positive impact on muscle growth, protein synthesis, and recovery.

In fact, eating protein before exercise can help improve your workout performance, and eating it afterward, ideally within 30 minutes to 1 hour, can help your muscles recover and repair.

So when it comes to timing your protein intake, it’s important to consider when you’re exercising and how that fits in with your total daily protein intake. If you’re working out first thing in the morning, you may want to consider having a small protein-rich snack before your workout. If you exercise later in the day, you may want to make sure you get enough protein at pre-exercise meals.

And after your workout, consume protein within 45 minutes to help jump-start the muscle building and repair process. An easy way to do this is to have a protein-rich snack, meal, or shake after you exercise.

Again, timing can be helpful with protein intake, especially with high volume training, but it’s a range and something to strive for most of the time, not something to stress about.

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