“How much protein should I eat” is such a popular question in the diet world. Protein is such an important macro nutrient. Under-eating it could lead to muscle loss, fatigue, and hunger.
The problem is that there are so many mixed answers out there it’s hard to sort out fact from fiction sometimes.
RDA of Protein
The recommended daily amount of protein is .8 g per kilogram of body weight. That is about .36 grams per pound.
BUT, that’s just the absolute bare minimum amount of protein your body needs.
The truth is that the ideal amount of protein can vary depending on your age, activity level, size, and overall health.
How much protein for muscle gain
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend protein intake, in combination with physical activity, be between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is about .5-.9 grams per pound of body weight.
Similarly a review published in 2018 by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that the ideal daily protein intake be around 1.6 -2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (.7-1 gram per pound) split over at least 4 meals.
Those numbers are fairly similar. Because of this I would aim for the range of .5-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This is definitely higher than the minimum RDA.
This means an adult male weighing 200 pounds, for example, could have a protein range between 100-200 grams of protein and still see the benefits of a higher protein intake. Contrarily, their RDA would fall at about 72 grams.
I personally keep my protein range between .7-.8 grams per pound of body weight. This range seems to work really well for me and allows for a balanced & sustainable diet.
I find that when you stick to the higher end of the recommended range, it is harder to hit those protein goals consistently while still enjoying your diet. The best diet is the one that you can stick to.
Age and protein consumption
So I mentioned earlier that age can play a part in how high your protein goal is and that is true. As it turns out, as we age our bodies become less efficient at using the amino acids from protein. This means as we age, our protein goal should increase.
New evidence suggests that the RDA of protein for those age 65 and older should be closer to 1-1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight or .45-.68 grams per pound.
The higher end of that range is recommended for seniors with illnesses. The exception of course is for those who have kidney issues.
Is too much protein bad?
A lot of people think that eating too much protein is bad for your kidneys. But it turns out it’s just a myth. It can be harmful to kidneys, but mainly only in people who already have kidney issues.
When it comes down to it, it is really really difficult to eat too much protein. The reason is just because protein is so filling, especially when you get it from real food sources (not supplements).
Don’t forget, eating protein does not mean you need to eat more meat. There are so many plant based protein options out there.