Here's How Much Protein You Should Be Eating + Why
People on a high-protein diet often find it easier to manage their cravings and weight, as protein increases satiety and helps curb the appetite, keeping them fuller for longer.
We need to consume protein to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but knowing how much we should be eating and where we should be getting it from can be hard to figure out.
There's a lot of information out there with differentiating opinions on how much protein we should be eating, and some of it can be misleading or downright wrong.
Why do we need protein?
Protein, when consumed, is broken down into amino acids and is used throughout your entire body, from head to toe. It's important for the structure and function your cells.
Active proteins are used as a catalyst to promote chemical reactions within a living cell while structural proteins contribute to structural properties of the cell and overall organism, such as keratin, the main structural component of hair, and collagen, key structural component of bone, skin, and connective tissues.
On top of all that, protein helps our bodies build and maintain muscle, advanced muscular movement, improve our immune system, and helps to carry oxygen throughout our bodies.
Although the body produces some amino acids, the majority, or the essential amino acids, come from our diet.
How much protein do we need?
The amount of protein needed differs from one person to the next, as there are many factors that can change how much an individual should consume.
Sex, age, weight, and activity level all determine how much protein you should be consuming.
According to the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake), from the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies Press, the average adult should be consuming about 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight (0.36 grams per pound) every day.
For those of us who are more active, this suggestion may be a little on the low side. Athletes, on average, need to be consuming more protein in order to keep up with their body’s demands.
Strength athletes should be consuming 0.64 to 0.82 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily, and endurance athletes should consume of 0.54 to 0.64 grams per pound of body weight.
Good sources of protein
Our main source of protein can come from animal-based sources such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy.
It's often thought that being meat-free and still getting enough protein can be challenging when in fact, there are many other foods that can be used as an alternative protein source.
Foods like vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, when combined, can provide you with enough protein to live a healthy life.
No matter where you receive your protein from, it's imperative that you're getting your protein from clean, high-quality sources. If you're getting your protein intake from an animal-based source, look for animals that are hormone-free and on a healthy, natural diet themselves.
Healthy animal means healthy you.
This same concept should be applied to plant-based protein. Go with organic, chemical-free, and pesticide-free whenever you can.
Can you get too much protein?
Protein intake is crucial, and high protein intake can be beneficial, but there is such a thing as too much protein.
On average, protein should make up about 15 to 16 percent of your total calorie intake. Exceeding 35 percent of an overall calorie intake may be dangerous, leading to chronic hydration, bone mineral loss, and kidney damage.
The United States Department of Agriculture has a useful online interactive DRI, so you can get a good idea of how much your daily protein intake should be in a healthy diet based on your sex, age, weight, activity level, and other factors that can affect how much protein your body needs.