When we think of protein, we often think about building muscle. But there is so much more to it!
From producing important molecules for cellular function and repair, to supporting strong hair, skin, and nails, to assisting with weight management and moods… protein is essential.
However, even though it’s essential, everyone’ protein needs are different. How do you know how much is right for you and then how can you be sure you’re actually getting it?
How much protein is enough?
The minimum recommendation to prevent deficiency is 0.8 g/kg (or 0.36 g/pound) per day. So, for a 68 kg (150 pounds) healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.
However, this is a minimum, not an optimal amount. It’s not enough for athletes whose bodies demand more, seniors who are trying to maintain muscle mass or those recovering from an injury. In this case, your protein intake should be closer to 1.3 g/kg (or 0.6 g/pound) per day.
Can you get too much protein?
Eating too much of anything, including protein, can be a problem. For instance, in the case of excess intake, extra protein can be converted into sugar and stored as fat in the body leading to weight gain.
Also, a common concern about protein is that higher intakes will harm the kidneys. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. And plant proteins are especially safe for kidneys. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.
Can protein help me lose weight?
Protein can be helpful for weight loss because it isn’t broken down as easily or quickly as carbohydrates or fat. This is because of its thermic effect. In other words, it requires more energy to digest, absorb, transport and store than the other macronutrients. That means you burn more calories breaking down protein than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.
As a result, protein can help to keep you fuller for longer and therefore consume less food overall.
Protein in specific foods (in descending order)
- A 3.5 oz chicken breast – 31 g
- A 3.5 oz can of salmon – 20 g
- ½ cup cooked beans (legumes) – 6-9 g
- A large egg – 6 g
- ¼ cup nuts – 4-7 g
- 1 medium baked potato – 3 g
Protein is an essential nutrient that we all need. Getting about 0.8 – 1.3 g/kg (0.36 – 0.6 g/lb) per day is an appropriate range. If you’re a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you’re an athlete, senior, or recovering from an injury, aim for the higher level.
With protein, it’s best to have just enough to meet your needs.
Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments. And if you need help to figure out what is best for you and your goals, please book a free discovery call with Bonnie here.