Have you ever wondered, “How much protein do I need to eat?”
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we’ll discuss the crucial importance of protein, what influences protein needs, and how much we need to consume.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Protein And Why Do We Need It?
Protein is an organic molecule that consists of amino acids. Once ingested, your body breaks down protein and absorbs the amino acids, which contribute to the plasma amino acid pool. This internal storage travels throughout the body, lending building blocks where needed.
Amino acids come in two categories:
- Essential - those, which we cannot produce, so we must get enough of them through food
- Non-essential - those, which the body can synthesize on its own, so we don’t necessarily have to get them through food
Protein plays an integral role in physical development, growth, muscle gain, recovery from working out, and more. The nutrient is also essential for our health and normal functioning as it supports the production of cells, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, antibodies, and more.
In essence, protein is one of the essential nutrients we need to consume for good health and optimal fitness results.
Protein Requirements By Age
Daily protein intake can vary significantly between individuals for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the biggest factor relates to age. So, let’s break down daily protein requirements before going over other factors that influence your needs.
- Babies (0 to 6 months) - 9 grams
- Babies (6 to 12 months) - 11 grams
- Toddlers (1 to 3 years) - 13 grams
- Kids (4 to 8 years) - 19 grams
- Kids (9 to 13 years) - 34 grams
- Females (14+) - 46 grams
- Males (14+) - 50 to 56 grams
Pregnant or lactating women should aim for at least 70 grams of protein daily, regardless of age.
The figures above are an excellent starting point, but for everyone beyond the age of 14-16, these recommended intakes are only to prevent protein deficiency. Real protein needs are likely higher, especially for active individuals.
Other Factors That Influence Protein Needs
Factors such as your activity level, muscular development, and fitness-related goals also play a huge role in protein needs. For example, an active person would need more protein than a sedentary individual because his recovery demands are greater. Similarly, a person with more muscle mass on their frame would need more protein to support turnover rates and maintain that muscle tissue.
If a person wants to build additional muscle, they need much more protein than the general recommendations because the tissue can’t come from thin air. We need an adequate supply of building blocks to produce that muscle and maintain it afterward.
General recommendations for people doing strength training suggest consuming around 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For a 170-pound person, that would be a daily intake of 170 to 255 grams of protein or more than double the recommended amount.
The Bottom Line
We need protein for good health, fitness, and muscle growth. As you can see, general recommendations often fall way behind what we genuinely need to optimize our results.
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