Tap to Read ➤

Understanding Your Body's Protein Needs and How to Meet Them

Paisley Hansen Jan 10, 2020
Keep reading to learn more about how much protein you need, what your body does with it, and how to get enough through a well-balanced diet.
There is a lot of talk about protein in health and wellness circles. Athletes consume it like they are starved of the key macronutrient. Dieters rejoice at its ability to boost energy levels and help them shed pounds. Yet, most people don't take the time to understand how much protein a healthy adult actually needs each day.

The Important Role It Plays

Protein is comprised of amino acids, the building blocks for the cells in your body. It is a critical component of every diet since it affects the formation of bones, muscles, hair, and nails. Eating a meal rich in protein can help you feel full for longer than one without protein.
People who consume moderately high amounts of protein find that it gives their metabolism a boost, which can help prevent weight gain that might lead to obesity and the health conditions associated with it.

How Much Protein Your Body Really Needs

Amount of protein you need is determined by factors including your age, gender, and normal activity level. The daily recommended intake(DRI) for sedentary adults is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. Avoid the math involved in that formula by using a nutrient calculator. They can get a good idea of your requirements.
Those numbers are the minimums needed to supply a sedentary adult. Consuming more protein is not harmful, as long as you are meeting overall nutritional needs and your kidneys and liver are healthy and functioning properly.
There are also some situations that increase your protein needs. High-intensity athletes, bodybuilders, and a few other groups require extra protein to fuel their lifestyles and maintain optimal health.

Exercise and Injury Can Increase Needs

Exercise causes additional nutritional needs that includes protein need. Bodybuilders and athletes wanting to gain muscles must take in more protein than they consume to create a situation of net gain. This will allow their bodies to utilize the macro to build new muscle tissue.
If you regularly participate in bouts of intense or endurance exercise or you are looking to add muscle mass, then you will want to roughly double your protein intake from the DRI. Aim for at least 0.5 to 0.75 grams per pound of body weight for the best results.

Extra Protein May Help as You Age

The natural aging process includes loss of muscle definition and size, decreased bone density, and lower levels of physical activity. This can result in decreased flexibility, range of motion, and ability to perform routine activities. Adding protein to your diet after the age of 60 may help slow some of these effects.
In fact, research indicates that older adults may need as much protein as extreme athletes to maintain muscle mass and bone health. Benefits apply to both healthy and frail elderly individuals, so it is worth the effort to increase protein intake if you are 60 or over.

Easy Ways to Increase Protein Intake

Protein is in every food you consume. Of course, it makes a higher proportion in some than others. Some foods, high in macronutrient include beans, nuts, lean meats and fish, and soy. If you aren't getting enough protein through whole food sources, adding a protein powder to your diet can help you meet your goals.

Make Protein Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

Protein is an important part of health. It can help you stay active and fit, which is linked to positive health. Review how much protein you consume and adjust your diet to make sure you are within recommended guidelines. If you are concerned about dietary intake and nutritional goals, talk to your doctor to develop a healthy eating plan.