Regardless if you’re stopping into the health food store or the gas station, today, you can find protein supplements everywhere. From do-it-yourself powders and pills to pre-made shakes and bars, companies have made it increasingly easy to consume protein on the go. But, is all of that protein really necessary?
Join GR8NESS as we get to the bottom of how much protein you really need.
What are Proteins and Why Do You Need Them?
Without protein, life as you know it wouldn’t be possible. Proteins are the building blocks of just about everything in the body. They’re used to make muscles, tendons, organs, and skin, even hormones. They also help build bones, teeth, nails, and hair.
Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids. Our body already produces some of these amino acids, but others must be sourced from our diet. We call the latter essential amino acids.
Generally speaking, animal products like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy provide all essential amino acids in the right ratio for us to make full use of them. However, if you don’t eat animal bi-products, necessary amino acids can be sourced from fruits, vegetables, and nuts, though they will need to be eaten in larger quantities.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The right amount of protein for you depends on a multitude of factors, including your age, current state of health, activity level, muscle mass, and any physique goals. Overall, though, most official nutritional organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake.
If you’re at a healthy weight, don’t lift weights, and don’t exercise regularly, the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.36–0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
This typically amounts to:
- 56–91 grams per day for the average male.
- 46–75 grams per day for the average female.
Realistically, unless you’re an athlete or bodybuilder, recovering from an injury, or over 60, you probably only require 50 to 60 grams of protein a day. Spoiler alert: unless you follow a strict vegan diet, you likely already get that in your food without adding bars, pills, or powders.
What if You’re Trying to Lose or Gain Weight?
As we’ve stated, protein is essential to all bodily functions, including gaining muscle or losing weight. If you’re aiming to lose weight, that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the protein. A protein intake at around 30% of your daily caloric intake seems to be optimal for weight loss. Not only will it boost your metabolic rate, but it may also keep you feeling full longer.
For those looking to gain or maintain muscle, protein is equally as important. Doctors agree roughly 0.7-1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight can support your body through muscle building, and help maintain muscle on your cheat days away from the gym.
The bottom line? Unless you’re skipping meals or training to be the next Terminator, you can probably skip that protein shake.