Who Should Be Eating More Protein Than What's Recommended?

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If you're at all concerned with your well-being, chances are you've given thought to how much protein you should be getting. Because protein has been touted for its benefits like aiding in weight loss, the anecdotal assumption seems to be "the more protein, the better."

But a new study by Purdue University suggests that might not always be the case. While some of us would benefit from upping our protein intake, others wouldn't.

What's recommended?

The study, led by Purdue postdoctoral research associate Joshua L. Hudson Ph.D., was designed to determine whether adults should eat more protein than the current recommendation for daily intake (0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound).

The research involved screening over 1,500 nutrition articles in scientific journals, with the team identifying 981 people across 18 studies that dealt with things like protein intake, weight loss, physical activity, and types of protein.

Initial findings from this study confirmed the recommended daily intake of protein holds true at 0.36 grams of protein per pound. So if you weigh 140 pounds, roughly 50 grams of protein a day would bring you to that threshold.

And as far as getting more than what's recommended?

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Should anyone be exceeding the daily recommendation?

Short answer: yes.

The team's research suggests people who are strength training and/or actively trying to lose weight would benefit from getting more protein than the daily recommended value. 

Wayne Campbell, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition science, explains, "If you are going to start losing weight, don't cut back across all foods you usually consume, because you'll inadvertently cut back protein. Instead, work to maintain, or even moderately increase, protein-rich foods. Then, cut back on the carbs and saturated fat-containing foods."

Additionally, the study notes women may want to consider getting more protein, too.

"This research is clinically more important for women and especially older women, says Campbell, "who are known to typically consume lower amounts of protein and should be maintaining a healthy body weight and regularly strength training."

Who can stick to the recommendation?

Campbell notes, "The results are not meant to encourage everyone to increase their protein intake in general. Most adults who are consuming adequate amounts of protein may only benefit from moderately higher protein intake when they are purposefully trying to change their body composition."

That's because, as their research found, more protein didn't provide any benefits for people who weren't lifting or trying to lose weight, suggesting other changes need to occur alongside increased protein for it to make a difference.

"There is so much encouragement, advertising and marketing for everyone to eat higher protein diets," Hudson says, "and this research supports that, yes, under certain conditions, including strength training and weight loss, moderately more protein may be helpful, but that doesn't mean more is needed for everybody at all times."

So if you're looking to lose weight or tone your muscles, getting more protein throughout your day could help. But if you're happy with where you are on the scale and in the gym, sticking to the daily recommended intake will serve you just fine.

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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