How Much Protein Do You Need?


Protein is one of the three macronutrients (carbohydrate and fat are the other two) necessary for optimal health. Macronutrients are needed in large amounts and provide calories and specific biological building blocks. Protein plays many important roles in our body and is an essential component of all tissues and functions. Protein provides the building materials (amino acids) for growth, repair, and maintenance of:

* Body tissues – muscles, blood, skin, tendons, bones, organs, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters
* Immune system function
* Metabolic & digestive enzymes
* Helps maintain volume & composition of body fluids
* Regulates pH (acidity/alkalinity) of body tissues & fluids
* Transports nutrients
* Energy production when blood sugar is low

The RDA for protein is set at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, but this amount is set to meet the requirements of most sedentary people, it is the *minimum* amount of protein a person should be getting each day. Most of us are not sedentary, or we have health challenges and goals we need to consider that increase our needs.
Below are targeted recommendations based on activity levels and health status.
For healthy individuals without any health concerns:
-Healthy with minimal physical activity: 1.0-1.2g/kg/day
-Healthy with moderate-intense physical activity: 1.6-2.0g/kg/day
Increased Protein Requirements:
-Weight loss: 1.2-1.6g/kg/day (provides greater satiety, increases resting metabolic rate, promotes fat loss and muscle preservation).
 1.0-1.2 g/kg/day *minimum*, and 1.2-1.5g/kg/day if malnourished or ill.
Now let’s look at an example:
“A healthy, moderately active person weighting 150lbs.”
First, we need to convert their weight in pounds to kilograms. We do this by dividing their weight in pounds by 2.2.
150/2.2 = 68kg
Next, we take their weight in kg and multiply it by the appropriate number of grams. In this case a healthy moderately activity person would be in the low to mid level range of that 1.6-2.0g/kg.
68kg x 1.6 = 108.8 grams of protein per day
Our bodies don’t store excess amino acids or proteins for later use so they must be consumed regularly with each meal. Assuming the person in our example above is eating 3 meals per day, they would want to aim for roughly 36 grams of protein at each meal. If the person eats 5 smaller meals per day that would be roughly 22 grams of protein at each meal. As a general rule of thumb, especially for clients just starting out in tracking their food intake and levels I have them aim for 20grams of protein at each meal at a minimum, and then we slowly build from there.
The ranges above are general, and if you have any health concerns, dietary restrictions, digestive concerns etc. it is always best to work with a board certified holistic nutrition consultant. Helping clients determine adequate protein levels for their individual needs and helping them plan meals and how to achieve those numbers is something I do as a nutrition consultant. Do you have special dietary or health concerns that you need some help with? Contact me to schedule your complimentary Nourish to Flourish consultation to discuss your concerns and see if my services would be a good fit for you! 716-712-4623
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