The other day I got an email from one of our fitness family members asking "How much protein should I be eating, as a person working out 3x/week and reasonably active the rest of the time?" This is a very common question I get but more so recently because "protein" has been in the news a lot lately.
And it’s a very good question because the truth is there are a lot of misconceptions about how much protein we should be eating.
And as you may have noticed food manufactures as they tend to do in an effort to increase sales, have jumped on the bandwagon and started pushing things like "protein enhanced” (whatever that means) or even that their food "product" contains protein. In fact Saturday as I was walking down the cereal aisle at the local Megamart I saw no less than a dozen different cereals touting in big letters (usually Red) that their cereal contained protein.
Some of them even went to put in BIG font that it contained X grams of protein in an
attempt to sway you to buy the product.
Now I am not against someone having protein in their cereal and honestly it could be a great educational tool, but it speaks to the lengths the food giants will go to manipulate you into buying their product.
For example one touted it has 8g of protein per serving which truthfully isn’t bad. It’s roughly the same amount as what is contained in one egg.
But what they forgot to mention was that unlike that one egg their cereal also contained a whopping 40g of carbohydrates most of which was sugar.
What they didn’t put on the front of the box….
It contained the equivalent of
6 teaspoons of added sugar per serving.
That's more than the recommended amount of added sugar for an entire day!
And whereas a large egg is about 70 calories the serving of this particular product contained close to 200 calories or almost triple the number of calories and that’s before adding the milk.
The point being that it’s not just how much protein you should be eating but where you’re getting it from that matters.
But getting back to the original question which was how much protein should I be eating, the answer is… IT DEPENDS.
There are a lot of factors to consider including age, sex, size, how often you workout, the type of workouts you are doing, and your long term goals.
A 25 year old male training to be a bodybuilder will have much different protein requirements than say a 60 year old sedentary woman trying to lose weight.
So there is no blanket “number” that everyone should eat. But there are some rough guidelines you can follow.
The USDA and may other sources recommend that the ‘average” person’s protein requirements should fall somewhere between 10-35% of their total food intake.
Using their typical 2000 calorie per day guideline (don’t get me started on that) it equates to eating somewhere between 200 & 700 calories per day of protein.
That equates to 50-175 gram of protein per day which I think we can agree is a pretty wide range.
So what should I do?
So as you can see it isn’t easy to just give someone a specific number to shoot for without knowing all the particulars of their situation.
What is important however is to eat protein with every meal, and ideally every snack as well.
The benefits of protein include:
Decreased body fat,
Improved satiety, (you'll feel full longer)
Increased bone density,
Increased lean body mass,
Improved workout performance,
More regular blood-sugar levels.
How much though?
To figure out roughly what your protein intake should be each day here is a guideline you can use.
Take your goal body weight and divide by 2.2. Take that number and multiply it by 1.5, and then by 2 to get your range of protein intake in grams per day. For example: A female whose goal weight is 140 lbs. would want to eat 95-127 grams of protein per day. This would equate to about 30 grams of protein per meal plus snack or post workout meal or shake.
Again though that is just a rough guide and needs vary for everyone.
Looking for more detailed information on what you should be eating, or how to eat right without having to give up the foods you love?
We can help! Our Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Nutrition Program is designed to teach you how to eat real foods in the right amounts to help you lose weight, have more energy and just plain feel better.
Unlike those weight loss gimmick plans you don’t eat foods out of boxed or drink “fizzy drinks” but REAL FOOD in the right amounts. No starving, no complicated meal plans just simple honest foods that you enjoy.