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How much protein should I be having per day?

How much protein should I be having per day?

The amount of protein your body needs in a day depends on a variety of factors, such as weight, body composition, activity level and age. The general recommendation is to consume 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight, however this requirement is made specifically for sedentary individuals. This is the amount which is needed to prevent insufficiency, but not necessarily optimal for health, especially in the event of illness, injury or aging. 

How much protein do I need if I'm physically active?

For individuals who are physically active or looking to build muscle, it is recommended to have protein intakes within the range of 1.2-2g per kg bodyweight. For muscle protein synthesis, 20-40g protein consumed in close proximity to exercise is recommended. Higher intakes of protein are also required to maintain high muscle mass.



Protein requirements during pregnancy

Yes! Pregnant and lactating women are also advised to have a slightly higher protein intake with an additional 6g per day during pregnancy or up to an additional 11g per day during lactation, however one study suggests increasing protein intake to as much as 1.5g per kg bodyweight, that’s almost twice of the general recommendation!


Do protein requirements change as we age?

Yes, protein requirements will differ between age groups. Low intakes of protein in elderly populations is associated with sarcopenia; which is age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, which can increase the risk of fractures. Therefore, an intake of protein higher than the general recommendation should be advised for elderly populations.


Is it possible to consume too much protein?

There is no need to eat excessive amounts of protein, even if you’re trying to put on muscle; one study found that consuming as much as 5 times the recommended amount of protein had no effect on body composition. It is also important to acknowledge that excessively high intakes of protein may also have negative outcomes, specifically on bone health, renal function and liver function.


How to determine your own protein requirements

Based on general recommendations, a 70kg person who is sedentary should consume 52.5g of protein per day, whereas an active individual weighing 70kg should consume between 84 and 140g protein per day.

Determining your own protein requirements can be confusing, but luckily there are plenty of calculators online that you can use to help calculate your daily recommended protein intake. These will calculate your needs depending on your gender, age, weight, height, and activity levels, and will even adjust the amount if you have goals of gaining or losing weight.

What should I eat to get enough protein?

For the average individual looking to maintain a healthy diet, I would recommend to ensure that a protein source is present at each meal, and aim for 25-30g per meal. For an individual looking to gain muscle, I would recommend 35-40g protein per meal with an additional high protein snack.

It is important to also consider the quality of our protein sources. Processed protein snacks and protein powders are convenient ways of increasing your protein intake and ensuring adequate protein intake when you’re in a pinch, or if you prefer a protein bar over conventional chocolate bars. However these should be enjoyed in moderation, and the majority of your protein should come from whole foods, as these will contain additional nutrients beneficial for health and may have better amino acid profiles as well.

Here are some of my favourite high protein foods:

  • Chicken (24g protein per 100g)
  • Salmon (20g protein per 100g)
  • Tempeh (20g protein per 100g)
  • Fat free greek yogurt (26g protein per 250g)
  • Full fat cottage cheese (26g protein per 250g)
  • Eggs (25g per 4 eggs)
  • Edamame bean noodles (21g protein per 50g)


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