How Much Protein You Should Take?

With so many protein bars, shakes, and supplements on the market, it’s kind of been hammered into our heads that protein is the wonder nutrient.

It is an important building block for our cells, essential to repair old ones and build new ones. Which is why we think about it most commonly as a post-workout muscle-builder.

So how much protein should you eat? And can you ever eat too much? We researched studies to find out how much protein is healthy to pack into each day.

First of all, there’s no easy one-size-fits-all recommendation on how much protein you should get.

The current USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend protein make up somewhere between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calories (but some nutrition experts think 35 sounds really high). A lot of people automatically think of 2,000 calories a day as the standard, but that might not be right for you—you may be eating more or less depending on your weight, fitness level, weight loss goals, and if you’re pregnant.

“Your [ideal amount of protein] will vary based on caloric needs and whatever else you have going on,” as said by my trainer. “For example, if you work out and lift weights three or four days a week, you’re going to need a little more than somebody who doesn’t. It varies.”

You can also use the calculation from the Institute of Medicine, which says the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein for adults should be 0.8 g/kg body weight. To calculate it, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, then multiply by 0.8. “So for a 130-pound woman, that would be 47 grams of protein. For an even more personalized look at your protein needs, use this handy USDA nutrient calculator, which also takes into account your height and activity level.

Let’s be honest: all of the different calculations make it a bit confusing. But in the end, you’ll get a very similar result no matter which way you think about it. Just remember that your recommended grams mean grams of protein in your food, not the serving size.

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Complicated math aside, chances are you’re getting the right amount of protein without even thinking about it.

According to the 2015 USDA dietary guidelines committee, most people are getting just about (or just under) the recommended amount of “protein foods,” meaning meat, poultry, and eggs. Here’s the rub: “protein foods” doesn’t include dairy, soy, or grains, so if you’re eating those things (which you probably are), it’s likely you’re right in the middle of the recommendations without really trying.

Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition following a protein summit of over 60 nutrition experts found that the average American currently gets 16 percent of their daily calories from protein, but that we could eat more than that. The suggestion to increase protein intake isn’t widely accepted though, and more research needs to be done to determine if the benefits are enough to make sweeping recommendations.

There is a chance of overdoing it, and over time that can lead to some adverse health effects.

You can always have too much of anything. But [overloading on protein] is more common in athletes and body builders, especially those who use protein powders multiple times a day in addition to the other protein they’re getting from their diet.

Most nutrients have a certain level that the average person can eat in a day before experiencing negative effects, called the “tolerable upper intake level.” Right now, there isn’t one that’s known for protein because we don’t have enough research to show what it would be.

Eating too much protein over time (months or years, depending on genetics) can lead to kidney problems, though. “Protein is a very big molecule that your body has to break down,” Gradney explains, so overloading puts unnecessary pressure on the kidneys. If your protein sources are animal-based, eating too much can also mean eating too many saturated fats, which can affect your heart and weight negatively.

Other downfalls of eating too much protein: “If intake of protein is more than needed, it won’t be burned and instead will be stored in the body and can lead to weight gain,” as my trainer says. Also, eating too much protein might make you eat less of other important nutrients, making your diet unbalanced. If you’re replacing carbs, which your body burns for fuel, your body may start to burn protein instead, which can lead to bad breath, he adds. It can also, weirdly, make your sweat smell like ammonia—it’s one of the by-products when the amino acids in protein are broken down.

In the end, the types of protein you eat (and when) matters the most.

In general, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, we’re eating enough protein. However, we’re not necessarily getting it from the best sources. Many people (especially boys and men) are getting too much of it from meat, poultry and eggs, and not enough from seafood and legumes, which count as both a protein and a vegetable.

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Eating a variety of proteins will also ensure you’re not missing out on the other nutrients your body needs, or going overboard on calories. And it’s pretty much impossible to overeat protein on a plant-based diet, so it’s more likely you’ll naturally stay within your ideal intake range versus if you’re only getting protein from red meat and poultry.

Protein should not exceed 30 gms in a meal.

Hope these tips help you, Please let me know in comments below what you think about this?

Love, Sonika.

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16 Comments on “How Much Protein You Should Take?”

  1. We’ve always heard how much is Protein necessary to our body, and the sources to get it, but never knew that overdoing it can lead to some adverse health effects. glad to read this post, thanks for sharing!

  2. So important to remember, that too much of even “heathy” foods can do us harm. Best practice is a common sense approach. Stay away from fads. eat what you love in moderation. all of a sudden, The Pie King, is in the mood for a fresh, farm to table pocket of goodness!

    Peace,

    The Roadside Pie King

  3. A very informative post! I’m useless at this sort of thing and should really pay more attention to how I fuel my body. It’s so important for the mind as well as body

  4. This is so interesting! I had no idea how much protein I should be eating, I assumed protein should be the bulk of my meal but obviously not. I worry about my husband using protein shakes so often!

  5. Protein is essential for growth of our body. If it lacks in our body then there are many problems like weak muscles and hair fall. But sometimes people take more does of protein which is also bad. Balancing our diet with moderate amount of protein is good. Informative post!

  6. As a Veg (but fortunately for me an Italian Veg, with so much food variety all the year round), I always care about my vitamin income and I tend to eat pasta and beans or quinoa. But as you say it’s important to wander how much of it do we really need! Thank you for the post.

  7. Protein is good to our body. I have a friend that has no protein and she got sick for 4 months and died after a month. I dont know what that disease called but it is rare. So we must eat protein foods.

  8. This is such an informative article. I had no idea how much protein should be eating. I will definitely check this protein needs.

  9. Such an informative post about protein! For me, I’ve found it best to listen to my body. When I’m craving a burger, it’s a signal to myself that I probably haven’t been eating enough protein. x

  10. This comes so handy as these days I was actually looking after a similar article. The handy USDA nutrient calculator seems a good alternative rather than the calculation form the Institute of Medicine.

  11. I didn’t know that over consumption of Protein has an adverse affect on our health! Thanks for sharing these great insights. I’ll keep in mind and implement on my diet!

  12. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things on protein. A lot of people are starting to understand, as you suggest, that, in some cases, we’re getting far too much protein! But, it’s all dependent right? People just need to be more mindful of their protein sources, and try to actually gauge what they need!

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