Do you know how much protein you should be eating? Here’s how you can calculate your protein needs, as well as a list of how much protein some common foods contain.
Your daily protein needs depend on many factors, like how much you weigh and how much muscle you have—not just whether you’re male or female. But you might not know that if you did a simple search on the Internet.
People come in all different sizes, and their body composition is highly variable. It stands to reason that protein needs could vary a lot, too. It doesn’t seem right that a 220lb (100kg) guy who works construction and is into bodybuilding would have the same protein needs as a 150lb (68kg) male bank teller who sits most of the day and spends his evenings on the couch. A common belief is that since muscles are made of protein, eating more protein will help you build more muscle. However, science tells us that isn’t always the case.
Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body.
They are made up of amino acids and help build muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails, and internal organs. Next to water, protein is the most plentiful substance in the body, and most of it is actually in the skeletal muscles. It also increases satiety, which is why it’s so important to get enough protein when you’re limiting your calories to meet a fat-loss goal.
Foods that contain all of the essential amino acids are called complete proteins.
These foods include beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and just about anything else derived from animal sources.
Incomplete proteins don’t have all of the essential amino acids and generally include vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts.
A good hit of protein can help increase muscle size and strength when taken pre-workout, post-workout, or both. You can use protein shakes for this purpose, or plan to eat protein-rich meals and snacks before and after working out. To optimize recovery, it’s also a good idea to eat protein before bed.
Calculating the right amount of protein is important because too much protein can cause health problems. Excess protein can stress and overload the kidneys, be converted into body fat, cause dehydration and possibly increase the risk of diabetes, kidney disease and prostate cancer
Here’s how to calculate your protein needs:
– Pounds: Multiply your body weight by 0.7
– Kilograms: Multiply your body weight by 1.5
The number you get is a reasonable target for the amount of protein, in grams, that you should eat each day.
So, a woman who weighs 140lbs (64kg) should aim for about 100g of protein a day. A 220lb man (110kg) should shoot for at least 150g of protein.
It’s easiest to estimate the amount of protein in a meal in 25g units, and the amount for snacks in about 10g units.
Here’s why. Common portions of many protein foods we eat at meals conveniently have about 25g of protein, and protein snacks tend to fall in the 10g range. So, it makes it easy to keep track. If you’re a woman aiming for about 100g of protein a day, you can easily do that by taking in 25g (one unit) at each meal, and have a couple protein snacks. If you’re a male aiming for about 150g a day, you can simply double up your protein units at a couple of meals in order to hit your target.
No matter what your calculations are, remember that there are no magic foods or supplements that can replace the right exercise and the right diet. The foundation of any program, whether your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle, is a combination of exercise and a healthy diet that includes carbs, with a balance of protein and fat.
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