How Much Protein Do I Need?
This is a very popular question. One I get asked multiple times each month. So hopefully this article will give the answer and settle the query once and for all.
What is Protein?
Protein can be found in every cell in our bodies. The protein we get from foods is used to build muscle, bones and skin.
Protein is a series of amino acids, joined together by bonds. When we talk about dietary proteins, there are basically two types: complete and incomplete.
Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids (EAAs) – the ones we can’t make on our own. Sources include meats and other animal products.
Incomplete proteins don’t have all of the EAAs and must be combined in order to make them complete. Most plant proteins are incomplete.
What are Good Sources of Protein?
From my Gaia Fitness recommendations:
Chicken, white fish (haddock, tuna), shell fish (scallops, shrimp), kangaroo, non-fat Greek yogurt, whey protein, vegetarian protein, beef protein, ostrich, camel, turkey, lamb, whole eggs/ egg whites, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), lean ground beef, rabbit, top sirloin.
If you’re a vegetarian you’ll have to get a lot more creative by combining foods to make complete proteins. Milk can be an addition to any plant protein to help make it complete. Some combinations include: grains and legumes, black beans and rice, bread and almond butter, chickpeas and tahini, lentils and almonds, roasted nuts and seeds. Keep in mind, it’s much more difficult to reach the recommended protein amounts following a vegetarian or vegan diet without going over your fat and carb limits.
You can also conveniently increase your protein by taking in essential amino acids (EAAs) like AMMO-8. AMMO-8 is a specially designed EAA supplement that is proven to be 33% more anabolic than gold standard EAA formulations. One 5 gram scoop supplies the equivalent amount of EAAs as 15 grams of protein!
How Much Protein Do I Need?
Many experts recommend 1 gram per pound of body weight. To me this makes little sense.
Would a 300lb obese man require double the amount of protein as an extremely lean 160 pound man? I think not.
So let’s dispel of that method and instead…
Use this simple equation to calculate your daily protein needs.
(Body weight – fat %) x 1.25 = daily protein requirement.
For example…a man weighting 200 lbs at 15% body fat would require 212.5 grams protein/daily. 200 – 15% = 170 170 x 1.25 = 212.5
A woman weighing 150lbs at 30% body fat should aim for 131.25 grams protein/day. (150 – 30%) x 1.25 = 131.25
Not sure what your body percentage is? Don’t stress about being exact. Use this image to estimate your body fat %.
How Often Do I Need to Eat Protein?
Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Fat is stored in fat cells.
Unlike these other macronutrients, protein has NO STORAGE devices and must be consumed on a regular basis or else the body will use it’s own protein (muscle) as the source.
The rule of thumb is to consume protein every 3-4 hours. (Don’t worry – you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to force down chicken legs…the body slows it’s metabolism of everything while you sleep.)
But it is a good idea to have a slow releasing protein for your last meal of the day. These are generally meat proteins with some fat (salmon or red meat can be good choices).
An easy way to determine how much protein to eat at each meal is by simply taking your daily protein requirement and dividing it equally into how many meals you eat in a day.
Let’s say our 200lb man eats 4 meals per day. He would aim for roughly 53 grams of protein for each of these meals (212.5/4 = 53.13). If he has 60 at two meals and 40 at the others, that’s fine. It all works out.
I recommend using MyFitnessPal to track your protein, carbohydrates, fats and calories. Stick to your macros eating high quality foods and you really can’t go wrong.
So there you have it! Although the “recommended” intake of protein for men is roughly 70 grams and 50 for women, this is the minimum for health.
To build or maintain muscle mass, you may require double (or more) of this extremely important macronutrient.
Now you have the valuable knowledge of how much protein you need. Please share this article any where you see fit.