- Dietitians recommend eating 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.35 grams per pound.
- Up your protein intake to 1.2-2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight if you want to build muscle.
- Protein should make up at least 10% to 20% of your calories if you are looking to lose weight.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Protein is a nutrient that’s essential for maintaining and building muscle.
How much protein you need to eat each day depends on several factors, like your age, weight, and level of physical activity.
Here’s how to calculate how much protein you need and which foods contain the most.
How do I calculate how much protein I need?
Protein needs vary by individual, but in general, protein should make up about about 10% to 35% of your daily food intake, says Elizabeth Beil, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Elizabeth Beil Nutrition.
General Advice: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which translates to 0.35 grams per pound. For example, someone who weighs 165 pounds should consume about 60 grams of protein a day.
Some evidence suggests how much protein you need may even be more, and the current recommended intake is merely to prevent a deficiency.
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Protein intake also varies based on age and sex. For example, men need more protein than women because they tend to have more muscle. Additionally, older people need more protein because their bodies do not efficiently process protein. People 70+ are also at a higher risk of protein deficiency due to eating less overall.
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- ¼ cup cooked beans
- One ounce of cooked meat or fish
Your activity level also plays a role in how much protein you need to eat each day. When you work out, you break down muscle, Beil says, which requires protein to repair.
Important: For athletes, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
How much protein do you need a day to build muscle?
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If you want to build muscle, you’ll want to adjust your protein intake based on how much protein you were eating before and how much strength training you’re doing now, says Cesar Sauza, a registered dietitian with AltaMed Health Services.
To gain muscle, you will also need to be in a caloric surplus, meaning you consume more calories than you burn. However, this should not all come from protein.
“Increased protein is associated with increased muscle strength and mass however this is not the full story because our bodies also require carbohydrates and fats to help contribute to muscle mass,” Sauza says.
To make sure you meet your goals, consult a registered dietitian to help you draw up a meal plan with the proper balance of protein, fat, and carbs.
How much protein do you need to lose fat?
How to lose weight and keep it off with the right diet and mindset
The only way to lose weight is to create a caloric deficit, meaning you eat fewer calories than you consume, Sauza says. Eating protein as part of a well-rounded diet can help satiate you so you eat fewer calories overall, but simply increasing your protein intake without creating a caloric deficit will not make you lose weight.
If you are trying to lose weight and are concerned about maintaining muscle mass, make sure protein comprises 10% to 20% of total daily calories, Sauza says. But, this varies depending on age, weight, and current strength training regimen.
High protein foods
Foods that contain more than 10 grams of protein are generally considered high in protein, Sauza says. Higher-protein foods include meats and seafood, beans and legumes, and dairy products.
To reach your RDA, Beil recommends consuming a variety of protein sources at each meal or snack. Here is a breakdown of foods higher in protein and how much protein is in each serving.
Protein is one of the three key macronutrients your body needs to build and repair muscle. How much protein you need to eat each day depends on many individual factors, like your age, weight, sex, and activity level. In general, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.35 grams per pound.
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