How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
Ask three different people how much protein you need and you'll get three different answers. It seems that everyone has a different opinion when it comes to the optimal protein intake. Even though health experts recommend 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body mass, these numbers only apply to sedentary individuals.
The question: how much protein do you really need? Can a high-protein diet affect your health? Let's find out!
How to Determine Your Protein Intake
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein is 0.8 per kilogram of body weight. That's about 56 grams for a 154-pound individual. A can of tuna or serving of chicken boasts over 22 grams of protein. Basically, eating two cans of tuna a day should be enough to meet your daily protein requirements.
Unless you're lying in bed all day, you probably need more protein. This nutrient is the building block of your cells and tissues. It plays a vital role in cellular growth, tissue repair, metabolism, and hormonal function. One gram of protein delivers four calories, so it also serves as a source of energy.
This macronutrient supports the production of anabolic hormones like testosterone and HGH. Some proteins, such as hemoglobin, transport oxygen throughout the body. Others help the immune system form antibodies that fight diseases and infections.
Your body also needs protein to build muscle and reach peak physical performance. This compound promotes hypertrophy aka muscle growth. The current guidelines on protein intake for athletes, bodybuilders, and active individuals recommend 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight daily. Yet, most athletes consume at least 2 -2.5 grams.
Opinions are divided when it comes to the optimal protein intake. The best thing you can do is to experiment with different doses and figure out what works best for your body. Consider the following factors:
- Your age and gender
- Current body weight
- Activity level
- Type of exercise
- Workout duration and intensity
- Fitness and/or weight loss goals
For instance, an individual trying to lose weight will need less protein than one who's bulking up. Women need this nutrient in small amounts than men do. People recovering from surgery or illness require more protein to prevent muscle loss and keep their immune system strong.
If your goal is to lose weight, a high-protein diet can make things easier. It not only prevents catabolism but also curbs hunger and cravings. Moreover, protein increases your metabolic rate due to its thermogenic properties.
Basically, when you eat chicken, fish, and other protein-rich foods, your body uses more energy for digestion. As a result, you'll burn more calories throughout the day. This leads to fat loss, increased satiety, and improved athletic performance.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein?
Depending on your lifestyle and preferences, you can get protein from animal or plant-based foods. Eggs, low-fat dairy, lean meat, fish, legumes, quinoa, nuts, and seafood are all a healthy choice. Ideally, keep your protein sources varied to make sure you're getting all the essential amino acids in optimum doses.
Athletes and active individuals can supplement their diet with protein shakes. Whey, pea, hemp, egg, and rice protein make it easier to meet your daily nutrient requirements.
Another option is soy protein powder, but its health benefits are subject to debate. Soy may increase estrogen levels in the body, leading to hormonal imbalances.
- The minimum daily requirement for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, most people need higher doses of this nutrient.
- Protein plays a vital role in metabolism, cellular growth, tissue repair, immunity, and other bodily functions. It also supports hypertrophy and boosts athletic performance.
- How much protein you need depends on several factors, such as your gender, body weight, activity level, and fitness goals.
- Both animal and plant-based foods contain protein. It’s recommended to obtain this nutrient from a variety of sources.