How much protein you need a day to build muscle and lose weight – Insider

Protein is one of the body’s most essential macronutrients, but it’s important to understand how much you need each day. In fact, some dietitians think that most Americans ingest nearly double what they should.
For others, it can be a struggle to get enough protein into their diets, which can weaken the immune system, cause high blood pressure, and weaken bones, among other side effects.
But calculating the right amount of protein you need to consume each day depends on several factors. “[Your] genetics, gut health, body composition goals, physical activity level, and current diet all play a large role,” says dietitian, Kylene Bogden. In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
For help figuring out how much protein you should eat each day, I spoke to Bogden and certified nutrition coach, Emmie Keefe. Both shared helpful insight into the benefits of consuming protein, the best sources of it, and a few drawbacks to keep in mind.
As mentioned, the exact amount of daily protein you need differs from person to person.
From a baseline perspective, the recommended daily protein is 46 grams (g) for women and 56 g for men (or 0.36 g of protein per pound of body weight). This is an adequate amount but may not suffice for certain folks looking to lose weight or build or maintain muscle.
For instance, recent studies suggest that consuming 0.7 g of protein per pound of body weight is the ideal amount for those looking to increase muscle mass or lose weight. By this calculation, a person weighing 200 lbs would need 140 g of daily protein.
You’ll need to combine a strength training routine with the addition of more protein to build muscle. This can include weight lifting, HIIT exercises, or resistance training. Additionally, the combination of a protein-rich diet with a strength routine can help people lose fat while building muscle (something known as recomposition).
If you’re only looking to lose weight, protein-rich diets can help with that, too since eating higher amounts of protein helps preserve muscle mass and manage your appetite — so long as you’re not consuming more calories than you burn each day.
This means being conscientious about your meals and where your protein comes from. Healthy protein sources that may aid in weight loss include eggs, salmon, black beans, low-fat dairy products, and nuts.
Where you get your daily protein varies depending on whether or not you eat meat and animal products, or if your diet consists of other protein sources.
Keefe says not to rely on protein powders, which are considered highly processed foods and typically have high levels of added sugars and fats. Eating too many processed foods can increase your risk of heart disease or obesity and are inflammatory for digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
She instead recommends choosing “whole plant food sources of protein like beans, peas, lentils, nuts, soybeans, and other legumes [which] are nutritious, packed with fiber, and have protein.”
Dietitian, Lisa Moskovitz, added that “the best sources of protein are nutrient-dense, low in saturated fat, and complete — meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.”
Some examples that meet these criteria include animal proteins, such as chicken breast, fish, eggs, and Greek yogurt, as well as plant proteins such as soy, beans, and quinoa. Here’s some healthy sources of protein and how much you get per serving:
Protein per serving:
28 g 
22 g
22 g
20 g
It’s important to know that although the body absorbs more protein from meat than it does plant-based protein, a recent study showed that the difference is negligible.
Protein is a must-have for your body’s daily functions. And since the body doesn’t produce protein on its own, people need to rely on ingesting enough of it via their diet, Moskovitz explains.
“Not only is protein important for muscle preservation but it plays an important role in repairing tissue, immune function, enzyme production, and energy,” she says. “Consuming a balanced diet with lean meats, seafood, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and whole grains ensures proper and sufficient protein absorption.”
Bogden says that a diet balanced with nutrient-dense protein has also been shown to help people have better control of their blood sugar, have fewer junk food cravings, and improve their mood and cognition.
Studies also show that higher protein intake may be better for healthy aging, increased athletic performance, and appetite control, not to mention how important it is for people looking to gain or maintain lean muscle mass.
Despite its myriad benefits, you can have too much regarding your protein intake, and too much is “very taxing on the liver and kidneys,” according to Keefe.
Bogden adds that there are specific signs to pay attention to which signal you’re ingesting too much protein. These are:
It’s also important to be aware of whether overeating protein is causing a secondary problem, such as getting insufficient amounts of fats or carbohydrates. Moskovitz says this is often responsible for nutrient deficiencies and imbalances.
Studies also show that some Americans (especially men) are eating more protein than what’s recommended, with much of it coming from steak, eggs, and poultry. For those intending to put on muscle and build strength, increasing daily protein to these levels is fine, so long as they’re regularly doing some form of resistance training like lifting weights.
If you don’t resistance train, increasing your daily protein can cause you to gain weight since you’d also be increasing your calorie intake.
Protein is an essential nutrient found in every cell of the human body — which means it’s important to get a proper amount via your diet each day.
The best sources of protein are nutrient-dense and low in saturated fat, such as beans, peas, lentils, nuts, chicken breast, fish, eggs, and Greek yogurt.
Try to avoid supplementing your entire protein intake with protein powders, as it’s better to have a more well-rounded diet to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

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