by Tracy Hartley PT, DPT
Daily Protein Needs Can Be Confusing
Determining the grams of protein per day your body needs can be perplexing. It ‘s not a surprise that the average consumer is puzzled about which what to eat when it comes to dieting. The media steers us in and out of fad diets with low carbs, carb loading, low fat, high fiber, high protein, and everything in between. Many diets promote consumption of higher amounts of protein and lower amounts of carbs and fats.
But really, how much protein per day does your body really need? The answer is not as simple as you may think.
Recommended Protein per Day Depends on Your Protein Needs
- The amount of protein your body needs per day will vary with age and activity level.
- Children, pregnant women, older adults, and athletes have greater protein needs than a sedentary 35-year-old accountant.
- The real key word here is sedentary. The 35-year-old Iron Man Triathlete has a much greater protein need than any sedentary person of any age.
Easy to Follow Protein Consumption Guidelines
Daily protein needs are usually expressed in grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (g/kg bw). The following is a quick list of recommended grams of protein per day that an adult body needs depending on who you are:
- Sedentary Healthy Adults 0.8 g/kg bw (0.4 g/lb bw)
- Pregnant or Lactating Healthy Women 1.0 – 1.8 g/kg bw (0.5 – 0.8 g/lb bw)
- Endurance and Strength Trained Athletes 1.2 – 1.7 g/kg bw (0.6 – 0.8 g/lb bw)
Calculating Your Protein Need
You can divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 and then multiply by the category above that fits who you are. On the other hand, you can multiply your body weight in pounds by the values in parentheses above that are converted for pounds. For example, a 200 pound strength trained athlete would multiply 200lb X 0.8 g/lb to find that he needs 160 g of protein per day.
This would be a maximum amount of protein needed to build muscle and strength. Sounds like a lot of protein, right? 160 grams is equivalent to a little more than 5.5 ounces. How many grams of protein per day do you need? It’s probably less than you think.