Recommended Protein Needed Per Day
In previous articles, it’s been established that whey protein if for more than just body builders, and I’ve shared with you my favorite sources. But one of the questions I’m often asked is, “Okay, so then how much protein do I need? What is the recommended protein needed per day?”
Like everything, moderation is key. You can have too much protein, and you can also not have enough.
What do proteins do?
In our bodies, proteins play a key role. They do most of the work in the cells. They carry out thousands of chemical reactions in the cells, they transmits signals to coordinate biological processes between different cells, tissues, and organs, and they also provide structure and support for cells. 
Proteins are also required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Some of their functions include binding to foreign particles like viruses and bacteria to help protect the body. 
They’re the major components of muscle which allows the body to move and is particularly important as you age. A study by the National Institute of Health found that aging adults in their 70’s who ate the least protein lost significantly more muscle than those who ate the most protein. When older adults lose muscle in their legs and hips, they’re more likely to fall and get injured. 
How much is recommended?
In past years, the USDA updated their food pyramid to an image of a plate called “My Plate”. But is it accurate? I tend to feel there’s some room for improvement.
For instance, their plate doesn’t include water, healthy fats, (and you know how I feel about coconut oil!), nor does it put a big enough emphasis, in my opinion, on vegetables or protein.
I really like this comparison by John Berardi, Ph.D. between the USDA’s ‘My Plate’ and the suggested plates created by Precision Nutrition which includes ‘anytime’, ‘post workout’, and ‘plant-based’ meals. You’ll find the protein levels are larger on all of three of these plates compared to ‘My Plate‘.
Calculating my protein needs
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 0.36 grams of protein per pound [lb] of body weight).
But this formula doesn’t take into account whether a person is lean or overweight. You could have two 150 lb. women standing next to each other – one could be overweight while the other is lean. Do they both need the same amount of protein?
Several doctors and fitness experts suggest that protein amounts should be calculated based on lean body mass. Lean body mass is the weight of your body without fat. This is NOT your ideal weight because your body has to have some fat content, this is for calculation purposes only.
Determining your lean body mass
To do this, first determine your lean body mass.
Using the calculator linked above, a 5′ 3″ tall 180 lb. woman would have the lean body mass of about 110 lbs.
To figure out your recommended protein requirements per day, take your lean body mass and multiply it by one of the numbers below, based on your activity level.
- Sedentary – multiply lean body mass by .5
- Lightly active (e.g. walking) – multiply lean body mass by .6
- Moderately active (30 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week) – multiply lean body mass by .7
- Active (1 hour per day 5 days per week) – multiply lean body mass by .8
- Very Active (10 hours of vigorous activity per week – multiply lean body mass by .9
- Athlete – multiply lean body mass by 1.0
From our example of the woman with a lean body mass of 110 lbs. We would multiply 110 by .6 if she was lightly active during the day. This would amount to 66 grams of protein per day.
We calculate it the same way for a man. Let’s say there’s a moderately active 45-year-old man that’s 6 ft tall and weighing 200 lbs. Using the calculator linked above, we’d first figure out his lean body mass to be 150 lbs. Then we would take 150 x .7 to equal 105 grams of protein per day.
So now that you know how much protein you should aim for, what does that look like in meals? Let’s take a look!
What do your meals look like?
To get an idea of what this looks like, consider the grams of protein in the following foods :
3 oz. chicken, skinless = 28g
3 oz. steak = 26g
3 oz. turkey, roasted = 25g
1 egg, large = 6g
3 oz. salmon = 22g
1/2 cup pinto beans = 11g
1/2 cup black beans = 8g
1/2 cup quinoa = 4g
1/2 cup peas = 4g
1 Tablespoon peanut butter = 7g
1 oz. almonds = 6g
1 oz. flax seed = 6g
6 oz. Greek yogurt = 18g
Best way to get your protein
The best way to get the protein you need is from natural sources. Adding a bit of chicken breast and a hard-boiled egg to your salad, sliced turkey with quinoa and peas, Greek yogurt with flax seed. . .
While this is the best option, I know it’s not always feasible to prepare, cook and bring with you where ever you go. This is especially hard when you become more active and your protein levels increase.
Protein is an important factor to health, fat loss, and muscle. How much protein do you get a day?