How Much Protein Should I Eat?Aug 15, 2020
I get this question ALL the time:
How much protein should I be eating?
Well, the cool thing about protein is that no matter what 'type of diet' you are following (unless it's a low-protein diet which I personally wouldn't recommend to anyone unless there was a certain medical reason for it), protein intake shouldn't really change much.
With that being said, there are typically 3 scenarios (and 1 caveat) that I take into consideration when recommending protein intake for clients.
Before we jump into the recommendations, please note that these are general recommendations and there are of course specific situations where I may recommend more or less protein depending on the individual.
If you're still unsure of how much protein you personally need after reading this post, feel free to apply for one-on-one coaching with me!
Scenario #1: Are you dieting or in a caloric deficit?
If so, my recommendation is to consume 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of your body weight in protein per day.
For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, that would be between 160 to 192 grams of protein per day.
Main reasons for higher protein intake during a diet:
- protein is essential to preserve muscle mass (especially when dieting)
- protein is the most satiating nutrient
- protein has the highest TEF (thermic effect of food)
- protein is the hardest macro to store as body fat
- protein is typically harder to overeat compared to fats and carbs
The list goes on...
Scenario #2: Are you focused on maintaining your weight, building muscle, and/or just optimizing overall health?
If so, my recommendations are to consume between 0.7 to 1 gram per pound of your body weight in protein per day.
You might be thinking: 'Wait, if my goal is to build muscle, why did you drop the recommendation down from scenario #1?'
The most up-to-date research on the effects of protein on muscle and strength gains in individuals who are not in an energy deficit (i.e., dieting), shows that the beneficial effects of protein plateaued between ~ 0.7 to 1.0 gram per pound of body weight.
Basically, if you have enough energy (calories) coming in, and you're hitting at least 0.7 grams of protein per day (while also resistance training and effectively recovering), you'll gain muscle and strength to the same degree as if your protein was higher than that.
*Again, these are general recommendations. Some people prefer a bit higher protein even when not dieting 🙋🏻
Scenario #3: Are you over the age of 50?
As we age, our protein needs go up!
*Check out Episode 43 of the MetFlex & Chill podcast with Shawn Wells for a deep dive into the reasoning behind this!
If you're over the age of 50, I'd recommend no less than 1 gram per pound of body weight in grams of protein per day.
The Caveat: Are you 40+ pounds away from your 'ideal,' healthy body weight?
If a large proportion of your body mass is adipose (fat) tissue, setting protein higher than 0.9 grams per pound of bodyweight will probably be too much.
In this case, I would recommend consuming closer to 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day until you get below that 40+ pound threshold.
If you're a female and you're interested in learning more about the importance of protein specifically for women, how much you should be consuming based on your specific goals, the ideal types, and much more, make sure to join the next round of the Keto For Women Program or you can always apply to work one-on-one with me!
And if you're curious to learn even more about the benefits of protein and also a deeper dive into my approach to higher protein while following a keto diet, check out THIS blog post.
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