Guidelines For Specific Populations
Many sources that suggest protein guidelines provide numbers for adult men and women. But specific populations may need more or less protein to manage a medical condition or facilitate growth.
- Pregnant and lactating people need more protein than people who are not pregnant .
- Older adults may need more protein than middle-aged adults .
- People with liver or kidney disease need to decrease protein intake .
Consult a health care professional or dietitian to determine your ideal daily protein goal.
How Much Protein Are *you* Supposed To Have A Day Lets Calculate It
To calculate your personal protein intake, take your weight and multiply it by either 0.8 if youre using kilograms or 0.36 if youre using pounds. This will provide you the minimum grams of protein you should be eating per day.
For example, if you weigh 175 lbs. this is what the calculation would look like: 175 x 0.36 = 63 g OR 79 x 0.8 = 63.2 g.
Now that you know how many grams of protein you should be eating each day, the next step is to eat!
While its ideal to meet your protein requirements with whole foods, if you find yourself falling short, there are many protein powders on the market that can help get you where you need to be.
How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorbper Meal
You can eat as much protein as you like at each meal but that wont change your absorption rate. Some research indicates that theres only so much your body can absorb and use for muscle building at one time any extra will be used elsewhere in your body or simply excreted.
The research is ongoing but according to one study on how protein and resistance training affect gains in muscle mass in young men, the optimal quantity of protein thats required for muscle protein synthesis is about 0.25 grams per kilogram of body weight in one sitting thats over about 1.5 to two hours.
Taking variations between individuals into account, the study suggests an amount of 0.4 grams of high-quality protein per kilogram of your body weight per meal. With four meals per day, that will give you a total of 1.6 grams per kilogram for the day. Bodybuilders and extreme athletes might need to aim for a higher protein target of 2.2 grams per kilogram per day or 0.55 grams per kilogram at each of four meals.
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Protein Synthesis: Only Part Of The Equation
Things start to make a little more sense when you start examining the different ways your body uses protein. If you ingest 30 grams of protein after a workout, it’ll increase muscle protein synthesis by about 50%, but that’s where it gets stuck.
You could triple your protein intake to 90 grams in that one sitting, but it wouldn’t do much of anything to increase muscle protein synthesis . That might not be true for steroid users, but we’re talking about people who have a neck.
That’s not proof that the 30-gram-per-sitting people were right. They’re forgetting that protein is needed for a whole lot of other stuff, too, and the body gives priority to that other stuff.
Protein, as you know, is an essential nutrient. It’s broken down into amino acids and the body can’t get them from fat or carbs, no matter how tasty they are. These amino acids are used to make hormones, enzymes, immune factors, and other non-muscle tissues. Once the protein requirements for all that stuff is met, the body can use the surplus to increase muscle protein synthesis.
In other words, you can’t rob Peter’s hormone and enzyme requirements to pay Paul’s muscle protein synthesis wants. In APCO police code, that would qualify as a 10-65, or Armed Robbery not be confused with a 10-68, which is Livestock in Roadway.
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This one study showed that 20 grams of protein stimulates maximum muscle growth.
That is, eating more than 20 grams of protein after working out did nothing more in terms of stimulating muscle growth.
The most obvious flaw in this argument is you cant use studies on the anabolic response to protein consumption to extrapolate ideas about how much we can absorb in one sitting.
Acute anabolic responses to single meals containing protein just dont give us the whole picture.
Protein absorption relates to the infusion of amino acids into the bloodstream over extended periods of time whereas protein synthesis relates to the use of those amino acids to build tissues.
Amino acids are the building blocks and protein synthesis is the process of building.
What this study really tells us is that, ideally, each time we eat protein, we would eat at least 20 grams.
Remember, though, that the study found that 20 grams of post-workout protein stimulated maximum protein synthesis in young men.
Dont assume that this 20-gram number applies to everyone because protein metabolism is affected by several things:
This hinders protein metabolism, of course.
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How To Maximize Protein Absorption
As weve discussed, before your body can absorb any protein at all it first needs to digest it. So whatever you can do to improve your digestion will also help to improve protein absorption assuming what youre consuming is reasonably bioavailable.
Try these tips:
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day and make sure you include protein in each one.
- While youre enjoying your meal, chew each mouthful well to break down your food and make it easier to digest.
- Eat at least some of your food raw or only lightly cooked to preserve the enzymes that help your body access the amino acids in your meal.
- Drink your protein rather than eating it. Liquids digest faster than solids and will then be more quickly absorbed . Try mixing your protein powder into a protein shake or smoothie.
- Drink enough water as digesting protein requires extra water.
Beyond that, choose products that have been independently tested and proven to be highly bioavailable and therefore very effectively absorbed.
Note: If you have a medical condition of any kind, especially reduced kidney function, consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist before adding more protein to your diet.
How Much Protein Do You Need
Protein is essential for life it’s a building block of every human cell and is involved in the vital biochemical functions of the human body. It’s particularly important in growth, development, and tissue repair. Protein is one of the three major “macronutrients” .
So, consuming enough protein is required to stave off malnutrition it may also be important to preserve muscle mass and strength as we age. And, in recent years, some have advocated a higher protein diet to rev up metabolism to make it easier to lose excess weight, though success in this regard is highly variable.
- The ideal amount of protein you should consume each day is a bit uncertain. Commonly quoted recommendations are 56 grams/day for men, 46 grams/day for women. You could get 46 grams/day of protein in 1 serving of low-fat greek yogurt, a 4 oz. serving of lean chicken breast and a bowl of cereal with skim milk.
- A weight-based recommended daily allowance of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a 140-pound person, that comes to 51 grams of protein each day. . Active people especially those who are trying to build muscle mass may need more.
- Based on percent of calories for an active adult, about 10% of calories should come from protein
- To pay more attention to the type of protein in your diet rather than the amount for example, moderating consumption of red meat and increasing healthier protein sources, such as salmon, yogurt or beans.
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How Much Protein Can The Body Absorb At Once
The general rule for calculating the minimum amount of protein that you need is 0.36 grams of protein per pound that you weigh . The Recommended Dietary Allowance range is 0.8-1 gram per kilogram for healthy adults, and 1-1.2 grams per kilogram for an elderly person.
As for the maximum protein dose in one sitting, a 2018study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that to maximize anabolism aka the process by which proteins are formed from amino acids one should consume protein at a max intake of 0.55 grams per kilogram per meal across four meals. This aligns with a daily intake of 2.2 grams per kilogram per day, which is on the upper end of whats generally recommended. For most people, the study suggested aiming for a target intake of 0.4 grams per kilogram per meal across a minimum of four meals in order to reach a minimum of 1.6 g per kilogram per day.
The study also notes that muscle protein synthesis the naturally occurring process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by exercise is maximized at protein doses of around?20 to 25 grams throughout an entire day of eating.
Include Protein In Each Meal
Whether you eat three or six meals a day, its safe to include some protein in each one. This will allow you to hit your daily protein needs and you wont have to stuff yourself with tons of protein in a single sitting.
Remember: protein is very satiating and if youre someone who struggles to eat enough food as it is, its better to space it out over multiple meals.
But this is not to say that, if you do follow intermittent fasting, you are wasting potential gains. Plenty of guys have built amazing physiques while following IF and, as we saw from the research, as long as the protein intake is sufficient, you wont harm your muscle-building abilities.
To paraphrase what Martin Berkhan said in one of this articles:
When I eat, I eat big. I cant satisfy myself with 5 or 6 small meals. Im constantly hungry. Im much better off eating one or two giant meals.
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What Happens If You Eat Too Much Protein
Getting that much protein would be unpleasant and tough for most people. Youd have to eat 20 ounces of grilled chicken breast a day to get to 168 grams, or about seven scoops of a standard whey protein powder.
If youre currently getting more than the recommended maximum, Nicholas says that youre at a higher risk of kidney stones, which are painful. The good news is that, contrary to what you may have heard too much protein is unlikely to damage healthy kidneys, according to existing research. But if you already have kidney disease, excessive protein intake can worsen existing damage.
Too much protein in the form of processed or red meats may also increase your risk of certain cancers, Nicholas says. And don’t forget that excess protein, if not burned, can be stored as fat which may lead to weight gain.
Another potential side effect of eating too much protein a lack of fiber , which could happen if youre eating so much protein that you dont eat enough whole-food carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend about 38 grams of fiber per day for men, in order to aid digestion and prevent diarrhea and constipation, as well as to improve overall gut health and lower your risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
How Much Protein You Need Per Day
While dietitians have differing thoughts on the exact amount of protein each body needs per day, there are some general rules of thumb in place to help guide you. The National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Reference Intake , which describes the minimum amount required for the body to function properly, says you should aim for 0.36 grams of protein for each pound you weigh per day.
But many experts suggest that many folks need far more than that. After all, that amount only prevents a protein deficiency it’s the minimum grams of protein per day requirement, says Molly Kimball, R.D., C.S.S.D., a dietitian with Ochsner Health in New Orleans. It isn’t optimal for muscle repair and growth, a reduced risk of injury, or feeling fuller longer.
How much protein you actually need depends on who you ask and who you are. Generally speaking, the more you move, the more protein you need. “The less wear and tear you put on your body, the less repair work there is to do,” says Sass. Your age plays a role, too. Some research suggests that as you age, your body performs better with higher amounts of protein. One study published in The American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism found that when people over age 50 ate about double the DRI of protein, their bodies were better at building muscle.
Consider these meals and snacks , with their respective amounts of protein, when determining your meals and your macros for the day.
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Why We Even Need Protein
That building block nickname is no exaggeration. The stuff is an integral component of every cell in your body, including, yes, your muscles.
If we don’t get enough protein, our bodies actually wont be able to rebuild properly and well start to lose muscle mass, Colleen Tewksbury, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior research investigator and bariatric program manager at Penn Medicine and president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF.
Protein helps repair the microtears that occur in your muscle fibers when theyre strained during exercise, the American College of Exercise explains. That process of damage and repair is what maintains and grows your muscle mass.
But protein is not just important for people who work out: In addition to muscle growth and repair, protein is essential to the growth and repair of virtually all cells and body tissuesfrom your skin, hair, and nails to your bones, organs, and bodily fluids, according to the FDA. Thats why its especially important to get enough of it during developmental periods like childhood and adolescence.
Protein also plays a role in crucial bodily functions like blood clotting, immune system response, vision, fluid balance, and the production of various enzymes and hormones, per the FDA. And because it contains calories, it can provide the body energy for storage or use.
Anabolic Response To Protein Intake At Rest
In one study, 34 subjects of varying ages were given servings of lean meat providing either 30 or 90 grams of protein.1 One group received a serving of 113 grams of meat, providing 220 calories. The other group were served 340 grams of meat, providing 660 calories.
Mixed muscle fractional synthesis rate was calculated for 5 hours following the meal. Both the small and the large meal increased muscle protein synthesis approximately 50%. Regardless of age, 30 grams of protein stimulated muscle protein synthesis just as much as 90 grams.
Previous research has shown that acute muscle protein synthesis is not energy-dependent, and this study confirms those earlier findings. Despite a threefold increase in energy content, the larger serving did not result in any more muscle protein being synthesized than the smaller serving, in either young or elderly.
The conclusion of the study is that instead of eating one or two large, protein-rich meals per day, dividing the daily protein intake into multiple moderate-sized meals might be a more effective way to optimize muscle growth.
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Body Protein For Muscles
When researchers studied the effect of protein-rich meals on muscle protein synthesis, they found that eating 113 grams of lean beef boosted muscle protein synthesis by 50 percent. A larger portion of beef failed to increase protein production in muscles. Your muscles won’t use more than 30 grams of protein consumed at one meal, according to the researcher’s report in an issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Another study published in the American Journal of Physiology concluded that 35 grams of whey protein at one meal resulted in greater protein absorption and muscle protein synthesis than portions of 10 grams or 20 grams.
Can The Body Absorb More Than 30 Grams Of Protein What Percentage Should My Protein Intake Be
As you know, theres a limit to how much protein your body can efficiently absorb at once. Per the study referenced above, muscle protein synthesis is maximized at a dose of ?20 to 25 grams of protein. Trying to absorb closer to 30 grams of protein wont give your muscle any extra boost. If your muscles receive more than 35 grams of protein at a single time, they already have more than enough of the building materials they need. That means that extra protein will either go to other parts of your body, or excreted through the urine.
To better calculate your protein requirements, you can divide your diet into macronutrient categories and have a specific percentage of your total calories per day dedicated to protein. Typically, consuming around 20-25% of your calories from healthy protein sources is the sweet spot if you are looking to add muscle.
If youre exercising regularly in an effort to lose weight, your protein needs are likely around a macronutrient breakdown of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 30% fat.
Strength athletes, such as a gymnast or someone who performs calisthenics, are the ones who actually need closer to 35% of their calories to come from protein. If thats you, then you should follow a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet with a breakdown of 30-35% protein, 25-40% carbohydrate and 25-40% fat.
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