How Much Protein Should I Consume Daily?

Beef stir fry with vegetables

Have you ever considered how much protein constitutes a healthy diet? If you’ve read articles on this subject, you may have found conflicting information. In this blog, we resolve the confusion. Here’s a reliable guide to the right daily amount of protein.

Why You Need Protein

Our body requires protein to form skin, organs, and muscles. It’s also vital for the production of enzymes, blood, antibodies, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Protein is composed of small molecules called amino acids. There are two classifications:

  • Essential – Your body can’t synthesize this type, so it must be supplied by food. Protein sources containing all nine essential amino acids are termed “complete.”
  • Non-Essential – Your system manufactures these from essential amino acids or digestion of incomplete proteins.

Variables to Consider

For optimal health, you must ingest a daily quota of protein. The ideal amount varies by individual, based on gender, age, body size, activity level, and fitness goal. Six types of people should pay particular attention to protein requirements. Are you among them?

Dieters – Since protein is satisfying, it delays hunger, aiding in weight loss.

Athletes – Protein repairs the tiny muscle tears resulting from vigorous physical activity. Body builders and endurance athletes require twice the amount of protein of sedentary people.

Vegetarians and Vegans – Those excluding animal sources from their diets need to consume a variety of high-quality protein. Diversity ensures they receive all essential amino acids.

Pregnant Women – According to WebMD, expectant women should add 10 grams of protein per day to their pre-pregnancy diet. Ideally, 20 to 30 grams of daily ingestion should come from dairy. This type of protein addresses the bone health of mother and child, supplying calcium and vitamin D.

Breastfeeding Mommies – Nursing women should obtain 20 more grams of protein per day than eaten prior to childbirth. Dairy is the preferred source for this amount, to support milk production.

Determining Protein Quotas

What we’ve learned from our customers is that most people seek to either lose extra pounds or maintain a healthy weight. Athletes want to retain and build muscle. Based on these criteria, here’s how to gauge your daily amount of protein.

1. Compute your daily calorie needs.

Take the help of the USDA protein calculator. This tool determines daily calorie need based on your gender, age, height, weight, and activity level. You can access the calculator here.

2. Follow established guidelines for protein intake.

Once you’ve obtained your calorie goal, use the protein standards suggested by dietary authorities. Guidelines are based on calorie needs or body weight, depending on one’s lifestyle.

Losing Extra Pounds

Eating high-quality protein boosts the rate at which you burn calories. Research shows that the best formula for weight loss is obtaining 25 to 30 percent of calories from protein. A 2011 study published in Obesity found that overweight men who followed this protocol had increased satiety, better snacking habits, and an improved relationship with food.

A 2005 article published by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition found that women who increased their protein intake to 30 percent of daily calories lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks. The added protein was so satisfying, they ingested 440 fewer calories per day!

If you wish to lose weight, multiply your daily calorie need by 30 percent. Then, divide the answer by 4, the number of calories in 1 gram of protein.

Here’s an example. Let’s assume your daily calorie need is 2,000. Multiplying 2,000 by 30 percent yields 600. Divide 600 by 4, and you get 150. This number is your daily protein target in grams.

Sustaining Healthy Weight

If you’re rather sedentary or comfortable with your current weight, follow the Dietary Reference Intake for protein. This is calculated at 0.4 grams per pound of body weight.

Preserving and Building Muscle

A person involved in sports and strength training expends more energy than the average individual. Therefore, they have higher nutritional requirements. Protein plays an integral role in repairing and amassing muscle. When consumed for this purpose, guidelines target body weight rather than calorie percentage.

For athletes, Authority Nutrition recommends 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises achieving this with food versus protein powders and supplements.

Healthiest Animal Proteins

Animal sources supply all nine essential amino acids. The USDA National Nutrient Database recommends the following foods. Protein grams are per serving.

3 ounces haddock, salmon, tuna, or trout = 21 grams
3 ounces skinless chicken or turkey = 19
6 ounces plain, low-fat Greek yogurt = 17
1 cup skim milk = 8
1 egg = 6

Champion Plant Proteins

Most plant-derived protein is incomplete. Here are first-rate exceptions:

⅓ cup seitan = 21
½ cup tempeh = 15
½ cup firm tofu = 10
1 cup quinoa = 8

Runner-Up Plant Proteins

Though incomplete, these sources are high-quality:

½ cup cooked beans = 8
¼ cup wheat germ = 8
¼ cup nuts = 7
2 tbsp peanut butter = 7

Eliminate Guesswork

Do you want to conveniently sidestep protein calculations? If so, subscribe to a Catered Fit meal plan. Five healthy programs meet all nutritional needs, including those for protein. We describe each plan with an overview and “per meal” profile for calories, protein, carbs, and fat. Here are your options:

  • Paleo – Meals are free of dairy, gluten, grains, and processed foods. Star ingredients are lean meats, fruit, veggies, nuts, and sweet potato. This plan is suited to individuals seeking to shed pounds and those on diabetic diets.
  • Pescatarian – At the heart of this plan is wild-caught seafood, along with eggs, dairy, and plant-based protein. Meat is excluded.
  • Smart – This plan is for people who want to maintain their current weight. It doesn’t exclude any major food groups.
  • Vegetarian – For those who omit meat and fish from their diets, this plan focuses on fresh fruit, veggies, complex carbs, and plant-based proteins. Eggs and dairy are routinely included but can be excluded for vegans.
  • Athletes – This plan targets active individuals, supplying lean protein, complex carbs, and more calories than the standard diet.

Bonus Points

Catered Fit meals have several advantages. Our portion-controlled, satisfying food helps you achieve dietary goals. Balanced nutritional profiles guarantee you’re well-nourished.

You’ll enjoy peace of mind, knowing your food is free of synthetic dyes, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, genetically engineered food, white flour, white sugar, modified starch, and table salt. Fresh preparation ensures you obtain vital minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients.

Menu items rotate on a regular basis, so dishes are always interesting. You can also customize plans with add-ons and exclusions. Daily delivery saves you valuable time, otherwise spent on meal planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation.

Simplify your lifestyle with Catered Fit. For details on meal plans and menus, click here.

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