Have you ever asked yourself, “How much protein do I need?” This article will provide you with a science-backed answer. Read on.
Protein is a significant part of skeletal muscles, which is the largest organ in your body, making up about 40% of your total body weight.
Also, sarcopenia, a continuous decrease in muscle mass in many older people, has been a significant risk factor for physical disabilities, fractures, and frailty.
Therefore, maintaining and increasing muscle mass by consuming the right amount of protein is critical for improving and preserving health in both the young and old.
So, How Much Protein Do I Need?
Your typical consumption of calories to protein percentage depends on how hard you work out, how much you weigh, how active you are, your body type, your health status, and your ultimate goal.
Once you figure this out, you can calculate how much protein you need to accomplish your set goals. This may need to be modified through trial and error as you go on.
Step 1 – Figure Out How Many Calories You Need
You need to consider several factors to determine how many calories you need, such as your weight, how active you are, and your age.
One of the most reliable and accurate calculators to use is published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is called “Body Weight Planner.” Its job is to help you balance your food intake with your activity level.
This calculator will give you a reasonable estimate of how many calories you need for any goal you have in mind. You can find it HERE.
There Are Three Kinds Of Diets For Calorie Management
The diet you choose will depend on if you want to maintain your current body weight, lose weight, or gain weight.
Maintaining Your Body Weight
This diet will provide you with the number of calories equivalent to the number you burn off during the day.
Your weight will stay the same here. However, to change your body composition – that is, gain muscle or lose fat or vice versa will depend on how much protein you consume and how much you workout.
This diet will provide you with fewer calories than you burn off during the day.
If you wish to maintain your muscle tissue and lose only body fat, you’ll need to consume more protein and increase your workouts, such as aerobics and weight training.
This diet will provide you with more calories than you burn off during the day.
If you want your weight gain to be muscle tissue and not fat, you must consume more protein and increase your workouts, particularly weightlifting and calisthenics..
Step 2 – How Much Protein Do I Need Daily To Reach My Goal
The answer to this question is not that simple, and it definitely depends on your age, activity level, and if you suffer from any illness.
As it presently stands, the recommended allowance for all adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. This recommendation does not take into account a person’s age, activity levels, or health status.
However, researchers have concluded that 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight are insufficient to preserve muscle tissue, stay healthy, and avoid disease.
There are many scientific studies that recommend the following protein intake: (Source, Section 7, Table 5)
All recommendations are in grams per kilogram of body weight (BW):
|Age Group||Safe Upper Limit|
Of Protein Intake
Of Protein Intake
|Infants (3 months to 1 year of age)||4.7||1.5|
|Children (1 to 3 years of age)||5.1||1.1|
|Adults (Over 18 years of age)||3.5||1.0 – 1.6|
|– Minimal physical activity 1.0|
|– Moderate physical activity 1.3|
|– Intense physical activity 1.6|
The average person who does not exercise and has minimal activity requires 1 gram of protein per kilogram of BW.
An athlete will require 1.6 grams per kilogram of BW.
How Much Protein Do I Need If I Am Older?
Studies show that if you are over 65, you need more protein than younger adults.
The reason for this is that an aging body begins to lose muscle tissues, bones weaken, the immune system does not work as well, bodily movements become slower, etc.
Scientists determine that the following amount of protein is recommended for people over 65 either to maintain and regain lean body mass and function:
How Much Protein Do I Need For Moderate Activity
- 1.0 to 1.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day
Very Active ( Exercising – Resistance Or Endurance Type Of Workouts)
- Over 1.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day
Those Who Have Acute Or Chronic Diseases
- 1.2–1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day
Those With Severe Illness Or Malnutrition
- 2.0 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day
Note: People with severe kidney disease who are not on dialysis should avoid the high-protein rule and need to restrict protein intake.
Experts agree that older people may experience improved bone health, cardiovascular function, wound healing, and recovery from illness with increased protein intake.
Scientists also recommend that older adults should consume between 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
Latest Study On Protein Intake
This study reviewed and analyzed 105 research reports that included 5,402 participants. The researchers evaluated how different intake levels of protein affected skeletal muscles.
This study did not just examine athletes, but all people in general.
To gain or preserve muscle, you need to eat sufficient protein, but what establishes sufficient fluctuates between people, based, as stated earlier, on muscle mass, fat mass, total caloric intake, and activity level.
Increasing protein intake by as little as 5 grams per day can increase muscle mass.
Protein intakes of over 50 g per day were associated with increased muscle mass regardless of sex, age, and exercise habit. In other words, your muscles will grow even if you don’t work out at these levels.
Protein helps build muscles, strengthens bones, increases brain function, supports immune system, and more.
The recommended dosage for protein worldwide appears to be too low according to scientists.
An inactive person vs. an active person cannot possibly function on the same protein intake.
Older people need more protein to stay healthy and maintain density and strength in their muscle tissues and bones.
Simply put, protein is the building block of life and health and must be consumed accordingly.
I hope this article has clarified your question, “How much protein do I need?”