How much protein do you require on a daily basis?
There is no easy answer in nutrition, as with other things. The amount of calories and protein you should consume is determined by your health, body composition, main objective, and the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of physical activity you engage in. Even after accounting for all of this, you’ll wind up with a starting figure that you’ll need to tweak through self-experimentation.
- Aim for 1.2–1.8 g/kg (0.54–0.82 g/lb) if you’re sedentary. Keep in mind that adding regular movement, particularly weight training, to your routine is more likely to change your body composition than simply hitting a protein target.
- If you’re a healthy weight and active, aim for 1.4–2.0 g/kg (0.64–0.91 g/lb) to maintain your weight. The higher end of the range may be beneficial to people who want to maintain their weight while improving their body composition (more muscle, less fat).
- Aim for 1.6–2.4 g/kg (0.73–1.10 g/lb) if you’re healthy and active and want to gain muscle. When bulking, intakes as high as 3.3 g/kg may assist experienced lifters avoid fat accumulation.
- If you’re a healthy weight and active and want to shed fat, aim for 1.6–2.4 g/kg (0.73–1.10 g/lb), skewing toward the upper end as you get leaner or your caloric deficit increases (by eating less or exercising more). In lean lifters, intakes as high as 3.1 g/kg may aid fat reduction while limiting muscle loss.
- Aim for 1.2–1.5 g/kg (0.54–0.68 g/lb) if you’re overweight. This range, like the others on this list, is based on your total body weight (most studies on overweight persons publish their findings based on total body weight, while other calculators will calculate your optimal protein consumption based on your lean mass or ideal body weight). If you’re overweight, losing weight should be your top concern, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also gain muscle. (Obesity is included in the term “overweight.”)
- Aim for 1.7–1.8 g/kg (0.77–0.82 g/lb) if you’re pregnant.
- Aim for at least 1.5 g/kg (0.68 g/lb) if you’re lactating.
- Because plant-based proteins are typically inferior to animal-based proteins in terms of bioavailability and amino acid profile, if you’re vegan or get most of your protein from plants, your protein requirements may be greater.
Also, keep in mind…
- Protein consumption should be determined by body weight rather than calorie intake. (However, calorie intake should also be dependent on body weight, thus the two are connected.)
- The majority of research focused on doses up to 1.5 g/kg, with just a handful examining dosages as high as 2.2–3.3 g/kg. Even larger doses don’t appear to have any harmful effects in healthy persons.
With our protein intake calculator, you can quickly and simply calculate your ideal daily consumption.
Athletes’ ideal daily protein consumption
Muscle gain requires resistance exercise, such as lifting weights: you can’t only feed your muscles what they need to develop; you also need to give them a cause to expand.
Most persons should aim for 1.6–2.4 g/kg of muscle growth.
A few studies show that eating extra protein (3.3 g/kg rather than 1.6–2.4 g/kg) can help you acquire less fat, assuming increasing resistance overload and a moderately hypercaloric diet (370–800 kcal above maintenance), while one did not.
What’s crucial to remember is that a daily protein consumption of 3.3 g/kg won’t help you gain muscle as much as a daily protein intake of 1.6–2.4 g/kg will. The higher figure might assist you avoid the fat gain that comes with eating above maintenance in trying to increase (muscle) weight.
Protein consumption for fat reduction on a daily basis
To begin, keep in mind that while you can lose fat on a eucaloric diet (also known as a maintenance diet — a diet that provides the same number of calories as you burn) by shifting your macronutrient ratios toward more protein, you’ll need to switch to a hypocaloric diet (i.e., you’ll need to start eating fewer calories than you burn) if you want to maintain your weight loss.
Dieters, especially lean dieters, benefit from a high protein diet since it helps them maintain lean muscle. Dieting athletes (i.e., athletes on a hypocaloric diet) should ingest 1.6–2.4 g/kg to optimal body composition, skewing toward the higher end of this range as they grow leaner or increase their caloric deficit (by eating less or exercising more).
Dieting lean resistance-trained athletes should take 2.3–3.1 g/kg of protein to prevent lean-mass loss, according to later research (closer to the higher end of the range as leanness and caloric deficit increase). The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) and a review study on bodybuilding contest preparation both support the latter advice.
It’s important to note that those suggestions are for those who are already slim and want to drop a bit more fat while keeping their muscle mass. Several meta-analyses including persons who are overweight or obese show that a daily protein intake of 1.2–1.5 g/kg is an optimal range for fat reduction. The European Association for the Study of Obesity supports this range, recommending up to 1.5 g/kg for obese senior individuals. It’s crucial to understand that this range is based on actual body weight rather than lean mass or ideal body weight.