Every cell in the human body contains protein in its structure. Protein contributes to many functions of the body including muscle and bone growth, so it’s important to have a sufficient amount of protein in your diet. Contrary to the popular belief that you can never have enough protein, many Americans actually consume more than is necessary due to diets that include lots of meat. While extra protein is not incredibly harmful, it also is not very helpful; it will just add unnecessary fat and calories to your diet. Follow this guide for determining how much protein you need every day to make sure you keep a healthy, balanced diet.
How Much Protein You Need
Protein Intake by Calories
One way to determine how much protein you need per day is to look at it as a percentage of the calories that you consume each day. This will give you a very general idea of how much protein to consume without taking into accounts factors such as weight and lifestyle. Protein intake for adults should make up 10-30% of their total caloric intake. 1 gram of protein has 4 calories, so an adult following a 1,800 calorie per day diet should consume 45-90 grams of protein to equal 10-20% of their diet.
Protein Intake by Body Weight
Another way to measure how much protein you need per day is to use your body weight and lifestyle as guidelines. Multiply your body weight in kilograms (divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your body weight in kg) by the number below that corresponds with your lifestyle:
Sedentary Lifestyle 0.8
Recreational Athletes 1.0
Endurance Athletes and General Sports 1.2-1.4
Body Building and Strength Athletes 1.4-1.8
Multiply your body weight in kilograms by the number that matches your lifestyle to find out how many grams of protein you should consume per day. For example, an adult who weighs 150 pounds and participates in recreational activities should consume 68 grams of protein per day (150 lbs / 2.2 = 68 kg and 68 x 1.0 = 68 grams of protein).
How to Measure Protein Intake
Any packaged food will have the protein content listed on its label. Make sure you look at the serving size listed and calculate your intake based on the amount you actually consume, whether it’s less, more, or equal to the serving size. These are some common protein-rich foods to keep in mind:Chicken breast – 3.5 oz – 30 grams of protein
- 90% Lean Ground Beef – 3 oz – 22 grams of protein
- Salmon – 3 oz – 17 grams of protein
- Pork Chop – 3 oz – 24 grams of protein
- Eggs – 1 egg – 6 grams of protein
- Pinto Beans – ½ cup – 20 grams of protein
- Cheddar Cheese – 1 oz – 7 grams of protein
- Almonds – ½ cup – 15 grams of protein
- Peanut Butter – 2 tbsp – 8 grams of protein
These general guidelines can be helpful to most people, but if you have a specific medical condition that may require a special diet, consult with your doctor before making any diet changes.