How Much Protein You Actually Need In A Day
Protein. We’ve all heard of it since it’s vital for our bodies to function. And if you’re someone who works out frequently, then you’ve definitely heard of protein and might even focus on how much you consume each day. But there are some common misconceptions when it comes to protein and how much you need to fuel your body, build muscle and more. While you might think you should be getting a ton of protein, here’s how much your body actually needs to function properly.
First things first, let’s explore the role that protein plays in the body. Proteins contain important amino acids that are not naturally produced by the body, which is why eating protein-rich foods or using protein supplements is so important for balanced nutrition. The main purpose of these amino acids is to repair and build muscle, so downing protein to recover from tough workouts is a must. But protein isn’t the only important nutrient your body needs — you have to think about carbohydrates and fats, too.
Healthy carbohydrates and fats are prime energy sources within your diet. But when protein takes the front seat, these other macronutrients often get neglected, which can have detrimental effects on the body. Protein, carbs and fat are equally important for keeping your body healthy, and that’s why you have to consider the amount of protein you’re taking in and what other nutrients your body needs just as much.
So, how much protein is the right amount of protein? Well, it depends. There are different factors that influence the amount you need each day, like:
- How much physical activity you get
- Whether you want to build muscle or lose weight
- The type of diet you are following
- How much you weigh
For someone who works out a ton, the amount of protein they need daily differs from someone who does little-to-no physical activity. It also depends on what your fitness goals are, what diet you are following and how much you weigh. For example, someone on the keto diet will consume a different amount of protein than someone following another dietary plan. (For optimal protein intake for the keto diet, which is a moderate protein diet, you should consider consuming as much as 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your body weight.)
If you’re active and looking to build muscle, studies have shown that getting .6 grams to .9 grams of protein per pound of your body weight is sufficient. In fact, research has also found that getting more than .9 grams of protein per pound of your body weight doesn’t provide an additional boost to your fitness results. For someone who does a lot of endurance exercise like long-distance running, getting .5 grams to .6 grams of protein per pound of your body weight will do the trick. And if you don’t quite know what kind of athlete you are, .8 grams of protein per pound of your body weight would be the average amount of protein you should consume each day.
To calculate your ideal protein intake, step on that bathroom scale. Once you know how much you weigh, you can take your weight and multiply it by the number of grams from one of the three categories above — whichever describes you best.
For example, a person who weighs 120 pounds, gets a moderate amount of physical activity and wants to improve their performance and build muscle would calculate 120 x .8 = 96 grams of protein. And since 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories, you can then calculate that 96 grams of protein daily will account for 384 of your total calories consumed.
Since everyone’s body, activity level and fitness goals are different, there isn’t one right answer to this question. But if you run your own calculations tailored to these specific metrics and listen to your body, you’ll get plenty of protein without even breaking a sweat.