Protein is an essential macronutrient that our body needs for growth and maintenance. It is used to build and repair tissues, including our skin and nails, and it is used to make enzymes and hormones. It also provides us energy and allows our immune system to function properly.
So, yes, protein is important and necessary! It’s no wonder protein tends to be a hot topic and one of the common questions is, how much protein should I be eating?
Figuring out how much protein you need in a day can be done with some simple math. For an average adult who is generally healthy and is looking to maintain their current their lean body mass and weight, they will require a minimum daily amount of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (reference: the DRI, Dietary Reference Intake). For example, if we have a 150 pounds male (divide that by 2.2 to convert to kilograms = 68.2 kilograms), we simply take 68.2 kilograms x 0.8 grams per kilograms to get a total of 54 grams of protein per day. Divide that amount by 3 meals. This person would be looking at eating about 18-20 grams of protein per meal.
Keep in mind, the above calculation is appropriate for adults who are only interested in maintenance. If there are other factors, such as muscle building, gaining weight, extreme sports participant, wound healing, or medical treatments that increase your physiological demands, then you may be looking at a recommended daily range of 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (sometimes, that goes even higher depending on your health and fitness needs).
A range of 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may seem like a big one and it can be daunting to try to estimate your protein needs if you are someone who has several factors to account for besides maintenance. If this speaks to you, it’s recommended to work with a registered dietitian who can take a full assessment of your current diet, health and fitness status and together, you will get a more accurate estimate of your daily protein needs. In addition, a registered dietitian can help make recommendations on how to meet your protein needs, provide ideas for meal planning and guide you along the way as you become healthier.
Have you tried estimated your protein needs? Give the above equation a try and see what your estimated daily protein needs are!