How Much Protein?

Benefits of a Protein Rich Diet

 

What is protein?

Protein is an amino acid found in many different types of foods. It is a macro-nutrient (a nutrient your body needs larger amounts of to run properly) much like fats and carbohydrates. However, unlike fats and carbohydrates, it is not stored in the body so it is required to be eaten on a regular basis to replenish. Making up 15% of your body, protein is found in virtually every cell. It is a vital building block of your body that makes up majority of your muscle, cartilage, ligaments, skin and hair. 

 

Benefits of a protein rich diet

When you maintain a healthy level of protein in your diet, it offers an immense amount of benefits. Not only does it help maintain a healthy body, but it helps to manage muscle and body weight. It's no wonder fitness trainers rely on it so much. It helps boost your health and fitness by:

  • Enhancing metabolism
  • Speeding recovery after exercise
  • Reducing muscle loss
  • Building lean muscle
  • Helping you maintain a healthy weight
  • Curbing hunger

Now, unfortunately there are also downsides to not eating enough protein. Since the nutrient is not stored within our bodies, it requires a more regular replenishment. If this does not occur then you will start to see some of these signs: 

  • Slowed metabolism
  • Muscle, bone, and joint pain
  • Low energy
  • Poor concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Weakened immune system
  • Difficulty gaining muscle

Foods rich in protein

Now that we know how important it is to eat enough protein, how can we ensure we get enough? Here are a few great food options that should give you a boost:

Meats: Chicken, turkey, eggs, lean beef, tuna, shrimp, fish (all types), pork chops, 

Nuts & Grains: Almonds, oats, quinoa, pumpkin seed, peanuts

Beans: Black beans, navy beans, soy bean, tofu, lentiles

Vegetables: Broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas, kale, spinach, collard greens

Dairy: Milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese

Other: Protein powder

 

How much protein should we eat?

According to the USDA, the recommended daily intake of protein for adults who are of "average" weight and activity level is 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per day for women. This is not always the best scale to go off of, especially since it's hard to decide what is average weight and activity. At the very least, you should take your current weight in pounds and times it by .36 grams and that makes an estimate for your recommendation via the USDA scale. For a 150 pound woman that would mean 54 grams of protein, and a 200 pound male would need 72 grams. 

Now, if you are more active you should definitely aim to take in more protein each day than the above suggestion in order to aid in muscle recovery and growth. For a slightly more active lifestyle it is suggested you take your weight in pounds and times it by .5 grams. This will make the suggestion for a 150 pound woman 75 grams and for a 200 pound male 100 grams of protein per day. If you are focused on muscle building in a regular fitness routine, you may want even more (1 gram for every pound). This is still not a perfect science, but it will point you in the right direction. Since everyone's body is different, consult a doctor for more information and listen to the signs your body gives you. 

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