If you’ve read much about building muscles, diets or healthy eating, you’ll find a lot of high protein diets and supplements. Most of the articles and products fail to address just how much protein is necessary daily. Protein is an important macronutrient that you need on a daily basis, but you can get too much. In fact, most people in the US get adequate protein in their daily diet. However, since it’s responsible for aiding in the creation of enzymes, which trigger biological reactions like creating connective tissue, muscle, building the immune system and providing energy, ensuring you have adequate protein is also important.
Each person requires a different amount of protein.
Your protein needs aren’t set in stone or the same for every person. They vary by your activity level, age, gender, weight and total calorie intake. If you’re supposed to consume a 2000 calorie diet to maintain your weight, based on your gender, age and activity level, you should be getting between 10 to 35% of your calories from protein, which would mean from 200 to 700 calories from protein. That would mean the protein equal to 3 to 9 ounces of ground beef each day.
Not all protein is equal.
There are 20 amino acids in the standard genetic code, of which nine are considered essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is one that the body can’t make, but must come from the food we eat. While animal protein contains all nine essential amino acids, plant protein doesn’t necessarily. The plants that contain all amino acids in adequate amounts contain complete proteins, while those that don’t have incomplete proteins and must be combined with other plant sources that contain the amino acids they lack.
Different levels of activity require differing levels of protein.
It’s only natural that since you burn more calories the more active you are, that you’ll need more calories from protein. Sedentary people require one gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. An active person requires 1.3 grams for every 2.2 pounds. If you’re at a high level of activity, like an athlete, you need 1.6 grams per pound of body weight. Just divide your weight by 2.2 and multiply that number by the number of grams based on your activity level. Divide 220 pounds by 2.2 and you’d get 100. If that person were sedentary, they would require 100 grams of protein. If they were active, 130 grams and extremely active 160 grams.
- You can get too much protein. If you consistently consume too much protein, it can damage the liver and kidneys, cause bone disorders, cancer and artery disease. However, studies show that consuming as much as 2 grams per 2.2 pounds had no negative effects.
- Choosing high quality protein is also important. Chicken, salmon, and beans are healthier options than red meat and especially processed meat. If you chose red meat, choose meat that came from grass fed beef, since it’s healthier than traditional beef.
- People who are older, even if they’re inactive, may require more protein than younger people, due to problems processing it. The very young need more for growth.
- Choosing protein over a sugary treat is always a wise choice. Not only is it more nutritious, it will keep you feeling fuller longer, since it takes longer to digest.
For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio