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How Much Protein Do I Need A Day?

Protein is one of the most important aspects of any diet. If you are protein deficient, your health and body composition can suffer dramatically.

Most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake of around 0.36 grams per pound which is 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman. However, this is a very low amount and studies show that these quantities are far from sufficient to ensure optimal health and body composition.

The right amount of protein for you depends on many factors including activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health.

Why Do I Even Need Protein?

Let’s first start out with why protein is important. First, proteins are the main building blocks of the body and are used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin. They also are used to make enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve important functions within your body.

Proteins are made from amino acids and some amino acids can be produced by the body, while we must get others from the diet. The ones we cannot produce and must get from our foods are called essential amino acids.

Protein Intake For Physically Active People

To start, let’s take a look at what a physically active person’s protein intake should be. People who are physically active do need more protein than people who are sedentary.

If you have a physically demanding job, you walk a lot, run, swim or do any sort of exercise, then you need more protein. For people who lift weights frequently it is recommended that they consumer between 0.8 – 1.0 grams per pound. Endurance athletes also need quite a bit of protein, about 0.5 – 0.65 grams per pound.

Protein Intake For The Average Adult

If you’re at a healthy weight, you don’t lift weights and you don’t exercise much, then aiming for 0.36 – 0.6 grams per pound is a reasonable estimate.

Protein Intake For Those Over 60

As you age, you need significantly more protein, up to 50% higher than the daily recommend amount, or about 0.45 to 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight.

This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia (reduction in muscle mass), both significant problems in the elderly.

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