This is a question that can be thrown around the fitness industry a lot and depending on who you talk to, you may have received very different answers. Let’s start by first clarifying that everyone’s protein needs will be slightly different depending on current muscle mass, activity level, age, gender and goals.
Protein is an essential macronutrient, meaning it is needed to help the body function but it can not be produced by the body on its own and means that we must get our protein needs from our diet. In the case of severe protein deficiency in our diet, the body will source protein from elsewhere which can lead to breakdown of lean tissue (being our muscles or organs), to provide protein for other essential bodily functions.
So we can now understand why protein is such an important nutrient to consume for function but what about for body composition?
Well, like I mentioned above this will depend great on your individual goals
If your goal is to ;
GAIN WEIGHT – 1.4-2 grams of protein per kg of body weight
So as an example : for a 70kg person you would need to be consuming anywhere from 100-140g of protein per day
LOSE WEIGHT – 2.3-3.1 grams of protein per kg of body weight
So that same 70kg person would be wanting to consume anywhere from 136-184g of protein per day.
Why is the amount of protein needed for the same person looking to lose weight higher than if that person was wanting to gain weight?
This comes down to catabolism. Catabolism is the breaking down of tissue and in any case somebody is in a caloric deficit in hope to be burning more energy than they are consuming we would like to see the fat mass break down before the muscle mass to help increase body function and maintain a healthy body composition. To reduce the chances of muscle loss and increase the chance the body will look to target fat for catabolism we want to increase the protein amount to promote muscle maintenance or growth and increase satiety and adherence to following a weight management or weight loss program.
Elderly should aim for the upper range of protein to help prevent muscle / tissue loss which is often a part of the aging process.
As a general rule of thumb however, your total protein target should sit anywhere from 20-30% of your total daily calories depending on your goals. You can then space out your protein intake throughout the day to keep yourself feeling satisfied and fuller for longer.
But if you’re not measuring it, how can you expect to know how much you are getting?
AND if you don’t know, how can you improve it?!
Here are some tips to help you get a better understanding of your daily intake
Become familiar with which foods include protein and round about figures of how much protein each serving of those foods actually holds
Begin to ask yourself how you feel after eating a higher protein meal – when you eat higher amounts of protein it increases your satisfaction and will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Track your foods using a food tracking app such as MyFitnessPal
Seek help / advice from a coach to fast track your understanding and progress because it is so easy to go down the wrong path if you don’t have a decent understanding or support along the way.
If you ever have any questions or would like to know more about how much protein you should be having Fitness360 has launched the ‘COMPLETE 360’ program which helps women learn exactly that while developing the skills and habits necessary to live a healthy and balanced life. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch TODAY!