Proteins make it possible to build and repair muscle, fuel the body, help create antibodies to protect the body against disease, keep the body healthy by helping create new cells, and much more. Our bodies need protein; but how much do we really need?
In this article, we’ll help you understand how to calculate how much protein you need and some of the best sources of protein. We’ll provide some protein-packed suggestions for vegans, vegetarians, and, of course, those who eat meat.
How Do I Calculate How Much Protein I Need?
The amount of protein you need depends on your activity level, gender, and age. When figuring out how much protein to eat each day, it's important to consider all factors that could affect your health. You may require more dietary protein if you are:
- An athlete
- Recovering from an illness
- Trying to lose weight
- A growing teenager
Certain medical conditions, such as kidney illness, mean that you will require reduced protein consumption. There is also some evidence that protein-rich diets may help to stabilize blood sugar levels, and can have cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. If you have a condition that may require a special diet, then please consult a physician.
There are two main ways to calculate the amount of protein that you should be consuming:
- By your weight
- By your calorie intake
Determining Your Protein Needs Based On Your Weight
Nutritionists suggest that adults should consume at least 0.36 grams of protein daily per pound of body weight. This is the level of protein consumption required for a sedentary lifestyle.
Thus, an adult who weighs 132 pounds and leads a sedentary lifestyle requires 48 grams of protein per day (The math: 0.8 x 132/2.2).
There are a couple of rules of thumb you can use to get an approximation of your daily protein number:
- Take your weight in pounds, divide it by 20, then multiply by seven.
- Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36.
Calculating Your Protein Needs Based On Your Calorie Intake
Knowing how many calories you consume in a day can also help you determine your daily protein requirement. This is a particularly useful calculation method for athletes who consume large amounts of calories daily.
The rule of thumb here is that protein should account for 10 to 35 percent of your daily calorie intake. With four calories in each gram of protein, a 2,000 calorie diet should include between 200 and 700 calories from protein. That equates to 50 to 175 grams of protein.
These numbers are estimates. They should be used only as a guide. You should consult a trained dietician or physician if it is important for you to accurately determine your individual protein requirements.
Examples of Protein-Rich Foods
Protein-rich foods can help you feel full, meaning you eat less over the course of a day. They may also help to reduce digestive issues. When you’re looking to add protein to your diet, here are some foods that you might want to consider:
Poultry is one of the most protein-rich foods available. A 100 gram serving of turkey contains almost 30 grams of protein, which is about half the daily recommended allowance for an average adult. Chicken, Cornish game hens, and quail are also excellent sources of protein and can make tasty alternatives to beef in many recipes.
Beef is one of the richest sources of protein, so adding it to your diet can help you reach your recommended daily amount. Make sure that you choose lean cuts. Red meat gets bad press, and scientists for years suggested that it had a link with cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Recent research suggests that previous advice to limit red meat may be based on limited evidence. Red meat can be a good source of protein as part of a balanced diet.
Shellfish and fish can be great sources of protein. Oysters, mussels, and clams have between 8 to 60 grams of protein per serving. Not only are they a lean source of protein, but they are also an excellent source of iron. If you suffer from iron deficiency, then adding seafood to your diet may help iron absorption. Tuna and salmon are readily available in the grocery store and have 28 grams and 20 grams of protein per 100 grams respectively.
Dairy foods are a rich source of protein. Try milk, yogurt, kefir, and cultured milk — these easy-to-digest foods provide the nutrients needed for tissue growth and cell repair throughout your body.
Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of plant-based protein. Some examples of popular protein-rich nuts are almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans. Legumes (beans) and lentils can also be great sources of protein.
Pulses are a solid source of protein. These edible seeds that grow in pods pack a powerful nutritional punch with their high-quality, non-animal protein content. A single cup of cooked kidney beans provides around 25 percent of the daily recommended amount of protein, depending on your weight and lifestyle.
Pulses are frequently used in vegetarian and meatless dishes to replace meat. Some of the best options include lentils, peas, chickpeas, and dry beans.
Millets are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians. They are also gluten-free and provide more protein than peas, almonds, and wheat.
A 100-gram serving of millet contains as much as 11 grams of protein; that's 22 percent of the average total daily recommendation. The seeds of maize (corn), pearl millet, and sorghum are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
Eat the Correct Amount of Protein Daily
Protein is an abundant macronutrient. It’s in meats, fish, nuts, legumes, and pretty much any other food you can think of that isn’t purely a carbohydrate. Eating the correct amount of protein daily can help you reach training goals, manage your weight, and stay healthy. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand how much protein you need in your diet, and the foods you can get it from.
This information does not contain or constitute medical advice or a medical opinion, and it is provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult a qualified and licensed medical professional prior to beginning or modifying any diet or exercise program.