Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a variety of important roles in the body, including building and repairing tissues, making enzymes and hormones, and supporting immune function. But how much protein do you actually need to eat to meet your body’s needs? Here’s what the research has to say:
- Recommended daily intake: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for adults. This translates to about 56 grams of protein per day for a sedentary man and 46 grams per day for a sedentary woman. However, these recommendations are based on the minimum amount of protein needed to prevent deficiencies, and may not be sufficient for optimal health.
- Protein needs for athletes: If you’re an athlete or engage in regular intense physical activity, your protein needs may be higher. A review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that athletes may require up to 1.4–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (1).
- Protein needs for older adults: As we age, our protein needs may also increase. A review published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that older adults may benefit from consuming 1.0–1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to maintain muscle mass and strength (2).
- Protein needs for weight loss: If you’re trying to lose weight, getting enough protein can help to preserve muscle mass while you’re in a calorie deficit. A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a protein intake of 1.2–1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day may be optimal for weight loss (3).
Overall, the amount of protein you need may vary depending on your age, activity level, and goals. To determine your protein needs, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian. Discover ideal protein intake with online food recipes. Learn, cook, and balance nutrition easily. Optimize your diet today!
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- Phillips, S. M., & Van Loon, L. J. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of sports sciences, 29(sup1), S29-S38.
- Bauer, J., Biolo, G., Cederholm, T., Cesari, M., Cruz-Jentoft, A. J., Morley, J. E., … & Singer, P. (2013). Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 14(8), 542–559.
- Leidy, H. J., Clifton, P. M., Astrup, A., Wycherley, T. P., Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., Luscombe-Marsh, N. D., … & Woods, S. C. (2015). The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101(6), 1320S-1329S.