Daily protein consumption is not standard for everyone. There is, however, a recommended dietary allowance (RDA), that gives you the amount you should ideally take daily for optimal health. The RDA stands at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. This makes up about 10% of your calorie intake every day and it’s the simple answer to the question “ how much protein do I need ”?
To get your RDA, simply multiply 0.36 by your weight (in pounds). If you’re very active, then you should double the answer you get to ensure that you’re getting an adequate amount of protein.
What Is Protein?
Proteins are often described as the building blocks in your body. They are used in making tendons, muscles, skin, and organs. They are also key in the making of hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes and tiny molecules that play key functions in your body. Without protein, therefore, life would not be possible.
Proteins are made of molecules known as amino acids that link together like beads. These linked amino acids create long protein chains that are eventually folded forming complex shapes.
The body produces some of the amino acids while others must be obtained from the food we eat. The amino acids that cannot be produced in our bodies are known as essential amino acids.
When it comes to proteins, it’s not just the “how much protein” but quality too matters. Animal protein is a great source of essential amino acids. Animal products such as fish, meat, dairy, and eggs give you a decent amount of healthy protein if consumed on a daily basis. For those that don’t eat animal products than getting essential amino acids becomes an uphill task. They might have to rely more heavily on protein supplements to stay healthy. Protein supplements are however not commonly used by everyone, they tend to be more popular and beneficial among bodybuilders and athletes.
In summary, protein can be defined as a structural molecule that is made from amino acids, some of which the body cannot produce on its own. The best source of essential amino acids is animal foods or products.
Why Is Protein Important In One’s Diet?
Protein has very many benefits to the body.
First, it’s key in weight loss. To lose weight, you must cut down on the number of calories you take. Eating protein helps boost your metabolic rate so you burn more calories and your appetite is reduced. When you consume protein containing about 30 %, research shows that it can help in boosting your metabolism by up to 100 calories a day. Lower protein diets will mean that you burn fewer calories in a day.
Protein is key in reducing appetite. If you have cravings and find yourself eating a lot of junk food in, the course of the day, why don’t you try consuming more protein instead? You will be fuller for longer and therefore will not feel the need to binge eat.
Consuming adequate amounts of protein not only helps you shed off extra pounds, but it also helps prevent you from adding weight.
Protein is also critical for muscle strength because our muscles are predominantly made up of protein. Muscles are constantly being broken down and need to be rebuilt. For your body to rebuild muscle, you must be producing more protein in the muscle than you are breaking down. This is why a people who are keen on building muscle such as bodybuilders, require larger amounts of protein in comparison to an individual with a sedentary life. Many studies have ascertained that protein intake influences one’s ability to build muscle as well as muscle strength.
Once you build muscle, if you hope to maintain it, you must continue taking adequate amounts of proteins while reducing on fats. This is because when your protein intake is high, muscle loss is prevented. Muscle loss is common among individuals who are dieting and as a result of aging.
How much protein if you wish to gain muscle? It is recommended that you consume about a gram of protein for every pound of your body weight. This amounts to 2.2 grams of protein for every kilogram of your body weight.
Studies have been conducted in an effort to determine the adequate amount of protein that one should consume in order to gain muscle but they all have varying recommendations.
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How Much Protein You Should Consume. Requirements
If your life is pretty much sedentary, then you don’t need any more protein beyond what the RDA recommends. There are circumstances that however demand that you consume more protein than the recommended daily intake. These include:
- How much protein if you are physically very active? If you engaging in physical exercise for 35 to 40 minutes five days in a week, engaging in resistance training at least twice a week and any other activity that demands more energy than normal, then you should consume between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight on a daily basis. The more intense the physical activity and the more frequently you work out, the more protein you should consume.
- If you want to lose weight then your protein intake should be higher than the RDA. Protein does not digest as fast as carbs and so when you eat protein foods, you’ll be fuller for longer. Protein also motivates your body to produce peptide YY, a gut hormone that reduces hunger. When you consume about 30% of the protein in your diet, you will automatically eat less because your appetite will be suppressed. Protein is key in helping manage cravings as well a problem that most overweight people suffer from. Studies on the actual impact of increased protein intake on weight loss are still ongoing but one thing is clear, protein is key in helping you retain most of your lean muscle as you lose fat. A study conducted in the year 2011 suggested that when you amp your daily protein intake by 1.8 to 2 grams for every kilogram of your body weight automatically helps your plank off muscle loss while restricting calories. To lose weight adequately, cut on your carb intake and increase your protein intake.
- Aging causes muscle loss. So how much protein if you are middle-aged? For middle-aged humans is advisable to consume more protein so as to maintain your muscle as well as keep osteoporosis at bay. That way you can be more functional and live longer. A study was conducted in the year 2015 involving adults who were all over 50 years old. Their recommended RDA was doubled in the experiment and the results showed that they were better able to retain and rebuild muscle with the increased protein intake in comparison to those whose protein intake had not been doubled. The change occurred within four days from the time this change was made.
- The elderly require significantly more protein than the middle age. This is because sarcopenia and osteoporosis are common issues among the elderly and protein is the key to managing and preventing these problems. The elderly should consume more than 50% over and above the DRI.
- How much protein if you are recovering from injury? That way you may also require more protein. Protein is important in repairing and rebuilding tissue and muscle. Anyone recovering from an injury be it a sports injury or even surgery needs more protein to help with the healing process.
Good Vs Bad Protein
Just because it’s protein does not mean it’s beneficial. If you are consuming the recommended daily amount of the wrong kinds of proteins, then you are not working towards realizing optimal health.
Good protein includes:
- Eggs- whole eggs including the yolk are a great source of protein. There was a time when nutritionists believed that the cholesterol in egg yolks could be harmful to one’s health but researchers found that eating foods rich in cholesterol do not necessarily mean that one’s blood cholesterol will be impacted. Eggs are very rich in protein and contain about 6 grams of each all as well 20 amino acids. This means they can be regularly enjoyed as part of your healthy diet.
- Salmon. This fish protein contains about 20g of protein in every 100g serving. Although a little higher in calories in comparison to other fish, it is richer in omega-3 fatty acids that are good for our hearts. It also contains a rich amount of vitamin D and as must calcium as you would find in a glass of milk.
- Chicken. Skinless chicken is one of the best sources of protein. The lean meat is low in carbs and fats, and also provides a decent hit of omega 3 fatty acids. It’s, therefore, a great option for those trying to lose weight and gain muscle. Organic chicken meat is even better. According to a study published in the Meat Science Journal, organic chicken contains about 38% more of omega 3 as compared to the non-organic range. Chicken store fat in their skin and that is why skinless chicken meat is a better option.
- Black beans, chickpeas, and pinto beans are a great meatless backbone for a protein-rich diet. These cereals are even better enjoyed when combined with vegetables and whole grains. They are whole plant food items rich in plant protein and fiber. Eating cooked beans has been associated with lowering the risk of obesity and chronic disease. It is better to cook them yourself and if you must buy them canned, rinse them under running water before adding them to your soups, casseroles, salads and curry dishes. Canned varieties tend to be laden with sodium, sugar and other preservatives that may have a negative impact on your health.
- Tofu is another great source of protein. About 10 grams in each serving will give you a good kick. It’s ideal especially for vegans and vegetarians who do not get value from animal proteins. Tofu is basically curd from soybeans that is pressed and then sliced into firm pieces. It makes a great substitute for meat.
Bad protein on the other hand included:
- What most people don’t realize is that while many diets advocate for meat consumption, not all meat is a good protein source. Processed meat foods such as burgers and sausages are packed with saturated fats and sodium, including many other chemicals and elements. Instead of these, go for lean meats such as chicken and turkey.
- Protein shakes are common among many gym enthusiasts and bodybuilders. Very few individuals actually know what they contain. Sadly, these protein shakes are often loaded with artificial preservatives and flavoring, synthetic toxins, for example, saccharin and aspartame as well as GMOs. Unfortunately, you cannot find a good substitute for right nutrition. So get rid of the powder protein shakes and find ways to add protein from natural sources to your diet.
- Processed bars or protein bars are taken as a food supplement. While they boast of being low in calories, they contain a lot of additives that could be hazardous to your health. You can opt for homemade protein bars using dried fruits, seeds and nut butter as opposed to buying the processed ones.
Negative Effects Of Protein On Your Health.
Some health problems are associated with protein such as osteoporosis and kidney damage. There are individuals who believe that high protein diets can lead to one developing these illnesses. None of these claims or beliefs is however supported by scientific evidence.
People living with kidney problems are advised to restrict their protein intake but if a healthy person takes copious amounts of protein, this cannot cause them to develop kidney damage. On the contrary, increased protein intake is known to be effective in lowering blood pressure as well as fighting diabetes; both of which are key contributors to kidney disease.
Given all the studies and research, done on proteins, it is safe to say that the benefits far outweigh any existing risks of maintaining a protein-rich diet.
There is no evidence to reasonably demonstrate that high protein intake had severe effects in individuals who are already healthy and working on staying healthy. How much protein do I need? Everything might be poison and everything might be healthy – the quantity and quality that matters.
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