Strolling into a grocery store had loads of packages touting the coveted term “low-fat.” Years later, it was replaced by the sexy-looking “low-carb.” Claims. These days, “high protein” It’s a benefit you’ll see in a lot of products, whether it’s protein powder, bone broth, salty snacks, or something else. But people are more confused than ever about how much protein they should eat.
How much protein do you actually need? We spoke with experts who explain why it’s important, why it’s not a one-size-fits-all nutrient, and how to know what your body needs.
Why do you need protein?
It’s a pretty simple case: Protein is good for us, and we should be eating some every day. The most important thing to remember is that our bodies really need what protein provides.
“Most people think of eating protein just to maintain muscle size or help improve muscle mass, but it does so much in our bodies,” he said. Michael J OrmsbyProfessor at Florida State University in the Department of Integrative Nutrition and Physiology and Director of the Institute of Sports Science and Medicine. Proteins act as enzymes, hormones, receptors, signaling molecules, and much more.
Because protein is not something our bodies hold on to, like body fat, it is a daily necessity Flores Wardner, Assistant Professor, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University. “Protein provides essential amino acids, which we need to consume as part of our daily diets,” he said. “This is because the body is constantly breaking down protein to create the building blocks for new protein, which results in a loss that must be replaced with food.”
If you notice that you feel full after eating a high-protein meal, you may have discovered other benefits of protein. “It keeps us satisfied and full for longer,” he said. Jane Burrellassistant professor at Syracuse University.
What is the magic number?
How much protein is enough to achieve all these benefits? As a basic guide, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults consume it 50 grams of protein per day As part of a 2,000 calorie diet. But other experts are taking a more nuanced approach.
A registered dietitian said, “Adequate protein intake is not a single number or goal to reach, but a range based on your age, gender, general health, and lean body mass.” Jacqueline London.
“A generally healthy person who is not very active should consume 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day as a minimum,” she advises. (This would be about 68 grams of protein for a 150-pound person.)
“Someone who is super active in things like running or cycling or training for an endurance event will require more, about 1.2-1.7 g/kg per day,” which would be 82 to 116 grams of protein for a 150-pound person, she continued. “When I work with individuals who are active and have general health, I usually recommend something closer to 1.2g/kg per day to 1.5g/kg per day.”
The best sources of protein
A board-certified physical therapist, Dr. Killian Petrucci. In fact, some studies have indicated that getting your protein from non-meat sources can actually be better for your health. Think low-fat dairy products, fish, beans and soybeans. These foods are delicious, and may also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”
Pay attention to the fat content, which can be associated with protein-rich foods. “Not all protein is created equal,” Petrucci said. “Bacon, sausage, or processed meats may be high in protein, but they’re also high in saturated fat, which can be bad for your heart.”
Finally, food is always better than a supplement or powder, said london. “Protein powders are everywhere these days, and since they are considered dietary supplements, they are not supervised by the Food and Drug Administration,” she said. “When it comes to meeting your nutritional needs, nutritional supplements are only meant to be used to fill in the gaps for what may be missing in your diet, not to replace trying to meet nutritional needs through food sources.”
Protein rich foods
protein content of foods (1-ounce portions unless indicated), According to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Beef or turkey bacon: 10 to 15 grams of protein
- 5 ounces of Greek yogurt: 12 to 18 grams of protein
- Roasted edamame: 13 grams of protein
- 3/4 to 1 1/3 cups of high-protein cereal: 7 to 15 grams of protein
- Meat or fish: 7 grams of protein
- 1/3 cup of chickpeas: 7 grams of protein
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter: 7 grams of protein
- 1 egg: 6 grams of protein
Distribute your protein intake
How much protein you eat matters, but so is it when you eat. “I encourage people to aim for 15 to 25 grams of protein each time they eat,” Burrell said. “If you only eat this amount of protein at lunch and dinner, but not at other times of the day, you may feel dissatisfied or hungry.”
She added that you have to get enough calories in general to give this protein what it needs to be most effective. “I work with college students, and many of them will eat a high-protein diet, but they generally don’t eat enough calories,” Burrell said. “For protein to be used to build new proteins, you first need enough calories. Otherwise, your body will just use that extra protein for energy. And if your carbohydrate intake is low, your body will break down working proteins and use some of those amino acids to produce glucose in order to maintain on blood glucose.”
Popular myths about protein
Experts said there is a lot of misinformation about protein. Here’s one example: “We keep hearing that protein causes kidney damage,” Ormsby said. “The data simply does not support this.”
They agreed that protein alone can’t make you lumpy. “One of the misconceptions about protein is that eating it means you’ll gain big muscles,” she says. Petrucci He said. “In fact, muscle growth is a complex process that takes into account protein consumption, exercise, and hormones. Athletes may have higher protein needs compared to their peers, but eating this way does not mean they will gain larger muscles.”
In fact, smart protein choices are an important part of a nutritious diet. “They are an absolute staple ingredient to meals and snacks, especially for people looking to adopt small but impactful strategies or habits that can lead to weight loss or weight management over time,” London said.