Protein is one of the three macronutrients the body needs. Getting enough of it is essential as otherwise your health and overall body build will take a hit. It is present in every cell, tissue, and organ and is responsible for the growth and repair of these structures, build muscle, and transport nutrients.

There are different opinions regarding the amount of protein you should take daily. However, most recommend a moderate intake daily.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound.

That is about 56 grams per day for the average man and 46 grams for the average woman. This small amount is enough for people with little physical activity. Statistical analysis, however, suggests that DRI of 0.8 grams per kg should be higher at 1 gm/kg.

Contrary to what you may believe, the Dietary Reference Intake does not signify an ideal intake. Instead, it represents the minimum amount of intake needed to avert malnutrition.

However, the right amount of protein for any one individual depends on his physical activity level, age, muscle mass, bodybuilding goals, and current health status.

According to WebMD, to maintain body weight you require 0.35 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.8 grams per kg) and 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight for muscle growth.

If you are getting your proteins from animal food, you are most likely getting enough of it. Eating animal products like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy every day will take care of your daily protein requirement. Vegans can get their protein requirement from a variety of vegetarian sources. It is only the athletes and bodybuilders that really need protein supplements.

The benefits of protein are more effective if you space it out over the day’s meals and snacks, and not just over one meal.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines give emphasis to the need of eating healthier protein-rich foods rather than on specific amounts of daily protein.

Protein requirement by age

The chart below shows the protein required in grams per day from ages 1+ to 70+ years as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Age group in yearsProtein needed each day in grams
Children aged 1 to 313
Children aged 4 to 819
Children aged 9to 1334
Girls aged 14 to 1846
Boys aged 14 to 1852
Women aged 19 to 70 plus46
Men aged 19 to 70 plus56

How much protein do you need to build muscle?

The fact remains that protein is vital for muscle growth and build. It is an important macronutrient for tissue repair and is loaded with amino acids, which give the body its strength.

When you get protein through the foods that you eat, the body breaks it down into amino acids. These amino acids improve your workout performance, help in the repair and growth of new muscle fibers.

When you get your proper dose of protein, your body experiences a positive state of nitrogen, which puts your body into a muscle-building condition. Protein deficiency in the body can lead to muscle atrophy and muscle wasting.

As mentioned above, The US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound. This specifies the minimum amount of protein amount to prevent malnutrition.

If you are an active person who works out regularly, you will require a protein intake of approximately 0.45 grams per pound of body weight.

It does not mean that the more proteins you eat the better it is for your body. Numerous studies have found that daily intake of protein more than 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight gave no additional benefits to your muscle-building program.

Additionally, long-term consumption of excessive protein, which is rising in popularity, increases the risk of dehydration and disorders of renal and liver function.

Therefore, there is no scientific document in literature that recommends excessive protein consumption above the current RDA for healthy adults because of potential disease risks.

How does protein contribute to weight loss?

After maintaining control over your calorie intake, eating more protein is the best you could do to lose your excess body fat and weight.

By replacing fats and carbohydrates in your diet with proteins, you inhibit the hunger hormone and this automatically leads to lesser consumption of calories.

A higher protein intake also boosts metabolism, which again leads to an increase in calories burnt. This could well lead to an extra loss of about 80 to 100 calories.

For people who exercise at a moderate degree, an ideal intake of protein would be one-half to three-quarters of a gram of protein per pound body weight every day.

To lose weight, however, you would require to consume a diet with a higher amount of protein. This will help prevent you from losing muscle along with fat.

You should have your protein intake spaced out over your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. The body utilizes protein intake spaced out this way during the day more effectively.

However, the exact amount of protein to consume will differ from person to person.

Mostly, protein intake is measured as a percentage of calories.

According to these studies that are documented you should aim for protein intake that measures 30% of calories. This is very effective for weight loss.

You can find this number in grams by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075. For example, on a 2000-calorie diet, you would eat 2000 multiply by 0.075, which is 150 grams of protein.

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