protein requirement
Diets,  Fitness,  Nutrition,  Weight Loss

How Much Protein Do We Need To Take Each Day?

The amount of protein that we need every day is unique for each individual. Let us learn how much protein we need, how much is excess protein intake, and who needs more protein.

Protein is vital to good health. It is an essential thing that holds every cell in our body together. It is what makes up many vital hormones and antibodies. This is why it is important that we get enough protein  in our everyday diet. Some studies indicate how much we need will depend on many factors, such as our age, health, physical activity level, and our diet. 

Let us learn here how much protein that we need, how to compute this need, when does protein become excess, and who needs protein more. By this, we will determine if we are getting the right amount of protein every day.

Daily Protein Requirements

Protein comes from the Greek protos which means “first,” indicating how essential protein is in nutrition. We need protein to put meat in our bones, make hair, connective tissue, blood, enzymes, antibodies, and many more. Bodybuilders and athletes need to take more protein to shape up. However, we always hear is that our need for daily protein is too high. Is it?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance or RDA for protein is about 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of the weight of the body. RDA is how much nutrients that you require to meet your basic nutritional requirements. It is the minimum amount that you need to stay healthy, not the particular amount you should eat each day.

To know your daily protein requirement, multiply your weight  in pounds by 0.36, or you use this protein calculator. For example, if you are a woman at 50 years old who weighs 140 pounds and who does not exercise (sedentary), you need to eat 53 grams of protein each day.

To determine your daily protein intake, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36, or use this online protein calculator. For a 50-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds woman and who is sedentary (doesn’t exercise), that translates into 53 grams of protein a day.

Here are some foods with their protein content:

1 cup of milk – 8 grams

1 cup cooked pasta – 8 grams

½ cup of cooked beans – 8 grams

½ cottage cheese – 14 grams

1 egg – 6 grams

3 oz tuna, salmon, trout, or haddock – 21 grams

½ cup (1 oz) of nuts (all kinds) – 7 grams

6 oz Greek yogurt – 17 grams

3 oz of cooked chicken or turkey – 19 grams

Here is also a chart of foods with protein content.

So, how much is too much protein?

Yes, too much protein may also means missing out on nutrients from carbs, such as fiber, and healthy fats. Nutrition professionals suggest sticking to eating about one-third of your daily calories  from protein, and keeping a modest daily maximum of two grams for every kilogram of your protein. Too much eating of some sources of protein, like red meat, is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers. It is important, then, to vary your sources of protein to best results.

How much protein is required

If you are a vegan or vegetarian

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains that the terms “complete” and “incomplete” protein can be misleading. The protein from different types of plants that are consumed during the day can supply enough essential amino acids if caloric needs are met. Hence, vegans and vegetarians need to focus on the foods that can them the best protein for calorie value rather than the average meat-consumer, however eating a varied diet with legumes rich in protein and soy make your muscles and body fine. For vegetarians, you can eat other sources of protein such as Greek yogurt, eggs, quinoa, nuts, and peanut butter.

If you are active

You should consume up to 2 grams for every kilogram of your body weight everyday to maintain muscle mass. And while maintaining protein intake within 10%-35% of your daily calories, nutritionists also suggest eating 15 to 20 grams of protein within one hour post-workout for best results.

To keep you active, you will also need a specific amino acid (building blocks of protein) called leucine. It is also good for repair and growth of muscle. Foods rich in leucine are milk, salmon, soybeans, chicken, beef, nuts, and eggs. 

If you are more than 65 years old

Older adults eat less protein for many reasons such as poor health, less physical activity, and several changes that are taking place in the mouth and teeth because of aging. 

Records also show that 85-years old and older seniors are the fastest growing age population in the U.S. and they tend to slow down in performing basic daily activities such as feeding, dressing, bathing, and using the toilet independently. Seniors tend to be less mobile to go to the grocery store, join some social activities as they used to, and manage their finances.

Can consuming more protein help older adults stay healthy and independent to live longer? Researchers say yes.

But how much protein should older adults eat to stay healthy and live independently? The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is: 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of body weight per day. As such, if you are a 150-pound woman, it means that you need to eat 55 grams of protein every day. And for a 180-pound man, you need to consume 65 grams of protein every day.

You may check this chart for common foods and their protein content.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Proper nutrition during pregnancy and while breastfeeding are important and crucial to the mother and infant’s health. Women with poor nutrition are at health risks, as well as their growing fetuses of illnesses and even death. Health professionals recommend eating three meals every day with one or two snacks between meals. Eating a sufficient amount of food and a variety of food types everyday will help the mother and the growing infant to attain proper nutrition required for development and growth.

There are five essential nutrients that pregnant and lactating mothers need: iron (to maintain energy and prevent fatigue while breastfeeding), DHA to help proper development of the eye retina and brain of the growing infant, calcium and vitamin D (to help build strong bones), and of course protein.

Protein is the building block of new tissue and for growth. Sufficient protein helps ensure that the body can build, repair, and maintain tissues and organs. This is important for the health of the mother and the infant.

For pregnant women, health experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein everyday for the development of fetal tissue and brain, helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy period. 

For nursing mothers, they will need two or three servings, or at least 65 grams of protein every day.

Protein is an essential nutrient regardless of our age, gender, weight and status. We have to know how much protein that we need every day to stay healthy and active independently.

Read our next article for more diet tips.

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