Protein: How Much You Really Need & 6 Ways to Get It
If you have trouble meeting the recommended dietary allowance for daily protein intake, many turn to protein powders.
Protein is a staple in every healthy diet as it is a basic building block of your body and required for building, maintaining and repairing cells. It plays a role in our muscle, hair, skin and connective tissue, enzymes, hormones, cells and fluids, in building muscle and maintaining a healthy weight. Proteins in the body are made from smaller molecules, which come from food and need to be replenished on a daily basis.
Without sufficient daily protein, your body cannot function properly. But how much protein do you really need and do we all need to consume the same amount of protein?
How Much Protein Do You Really Need? The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight (or 0.36 grams per pound) per day. This is called the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and is recommended to meet the needs of the majority of the population.
The specific amount of protein that each individual person needs is variable as it depends on your age, body weight, disease state and activity level. While the conservative approach of the RDA has been used for years to prevent deficiency, there is mounting evidence that protein intakes need to be higher to be optimal.
Increasing your protein intake has shown improvements in muscle building, body composition, weight management, metabolic function and healthy aging. All of which contribute to an improved quality of life.
How to calculate your optimal protein intake:
- 150lb sedentary adult needs .36g per lb of body weight OR 54g a day
- 150lb active adult needs .54-.77g per lb of body weight OR 81-115g per day
- 150lb older adult (65+) needs .45-.68g per lb of body weight OR 68-102g per day
Where to Find Protein
There are six common sources of protein.
Meat & Dairy
An egg contains 6 grams of protein, yogurt and cheese 8 grams while chicken, beef and fish contain between 22-28 grams of protein per serving.
Nuts & Seeds
Cashews, walnuts, almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds can contain as much as 10 grams of protein per cup.
Wheat germ, quinoa, buckwheat, oats and kamut contain anywhere from 4-13 grams of protein per half cup.
Bean and Legumes
Contain 8-9 grams per half cup plus the added nutritional benefit of fibre.
Yes, even some vegetables have a respectable about of protein. Peas, spinach, corn, kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts all contain up to 5 grams per cup when cooked.
If you have trouble meeting the recommended dietary allowance for daily protein intake, many turn to protein powders that contains approximately 20 grams of protein per scoop. Easy to add to a smoothie or baked goods, this can be a good source of protein when other foods are not available or an option.
Did You Know?
If you have ever over indulged at Christmas dinner or on Thanksgiving turkey you are probably familiar with the feeling of eating too much at one meal, especially too much protein. Scientists have learned that protein is best eaten at each meal throughout the day rather that just at dinner. A great place to start is to strive for 20-25 grams of protein per meal and 10-15 grams at snacks.