How Much Protein Do I Need Daily?
Protein is an essential nutrient for good health, energy and physical fitness. Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks for muscle, body tissue and bones.
But how can you tell if you’re getting enough protein? Signs of insufficient protein intake include loss of muscle, lethargy, changes in skin, nails and hair, and susceptibility to infection. Even without these signs, you may not be getting enough protein in your diet.
The average person needs about 0.4 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. Another way to look at it is that 10-35% of your calories should come from protein. But remember, these are just guidelines. You may need more depending on your lifestyle or special physical needs. For example, women who are pregnant require about 10 g more of protein a day than they did prior to pregnancy. And a breastfeeding woman will need about 20 g more.
Athletes differ in their protein requirements as well. Athletes expend more energy and therefore will need more protein to restore muscle and other tissue. Athletes need as much as 0.5-0.8 grams of protein for every pound. How much protein you need daily depends on what type of activities you are participating in:
- Light to moderate activity – 0.45 g /pound of body weight
- Muscle Building – 0.64-0.82 g /pound of body weight
- Endurance Activity – 0.7-0.9g/pound of body weight
In addition to building tissue, protein is a back-up source of energy when fats and carbs are not available. While the basic recommendation of 0.4 g per pound of body weight is important to consider, research has shown that seniors may benefit from exceeding the recommended daily allowance. Added protein can help with muscle strength and function in the elderly, as well as help with healing and immunity.
Other health issues can affect protein requirements as well. Be sure to consult your Doctor if you have special medical needs.