How Much Protein Should I Eat in a Day?

November 6th, 2007 Posted in Diet 738 Comments »

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High Protein SteakHardcore bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other weightlifters eat a ton of protein in a day. OK, they don’t eat a “ton”, but they do eat more than the average person.

Just now much protein do they eat?

How much protein do you eat?

How much protein is appropriate?

Can we eat too much protein?

If so, what are the side effects?

The ultimate question is: how much protein should I eat in a day?

As with how much fat to eat in a day and how many carbs to eat in a day, it all depends on a couple factors:

  • age
  • body size
  • diet
  • activity level
  • lifestyle

The recommended amount of protein for a healthy adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Since a kilogram is roughly equal to 2.2 pounds, that translates into .36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

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An exception to this rule is the recommended levels for pregnant women, which say that pregnant women should eat 10 grams more each day than the recommended amount. Lactating women require an additional 15 grams of protein during the first six months of nursing, and an additional 12 grams after that.

I firmly believe that this recommendation is grossly inadequate. In fact I wouldn’t recommend any less than .8 grams of protein per pound (rather than per kilogram) of body weight, for people looking to maintain a healthy body composition, and I wouldn’t recommend any less than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for people looking to gain muscle.

Males who participate in regular vigorous exercise typically will eat from 1 to 1.5 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This can be both positive and negative for the body. The additional protein will assist in muscle recovery and fat loss, but the effects of digesting the protein will place additional stress on the body.

Why Should I Limit My Protein Intake?

While protein is as vital to cellular metabolism as oxygen, there certainly lies a threshold for healthy and unhealthy consumption levels especially for those in poorer health. Processing protein requires a lot from kidneys and liver which is why those with problems with either of those organs are often ordered by their physicians to eat a lower protein diet.

An indirect drawback from excessive animal protein consumption is its effect on the cardiovascular system. Since many meats contain a fair amount of saturated fat, this can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, as well as obesity.

For example, only 25% of a T-bone steak’s calories come from protein while the rest comes from saturated fat. Even a leaner cut of beef like a flank steak is still roughly 50% fat. The same holds true for eggs. Only 31% of eggs’ calories come from protein. Fish and chicken are certainly better sources of protein.

Remember when eating a diet higher in protein to drink plenty of water in order to replenish the considerable amount lost during protein metabolism. Try and stay on the safe side by avoiding extreme high-protein diets full of saturated fats like the ketogenic diets (Atkins) and you will be in much better physical standing.

To Gain Muscle:

I recommend 1 gram of protein per lb of lean body mass for males and females who exercise at least 3 times per week and are trying to gain muscle mass.

A 200 lb man with 10% bodyfat would aim to consume about 180 grams of protein in a day. That’s 6 meals with an average of 30 grams of protein per meal, and THAT, my friends, is quite doable.

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If you have trouble consuming that much protein with food alone, I highly suggest you pick up some Optimum Nutrition Protein Powders, a source of inexpensive, high quality protein. One extra protein shake a day could make all the difference in the world.

To Lose Fat:

I recommend .8 grams of protein per lb of lean body mass for males and females who exercise at least 3 times per week and are trying to lose body fat.

A 150 lb woman with 25% bodyfat would aim to consume about 90 grams of protein in a day. That’s 3 meals with 20 grams of protein per meal and 3 snacks with 10 grams of protein, and THAT, my friends, is also very doable.

More importantly, keeping your unhealthy fat consumption and processed carbohydrate consumption low, will go a long way to preserve your health for the long haul.

See also:
How many grams of fat should I eat?
How many grams of carbs should I eat?

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738 Responses to “How Much Protein Should I Eat in a Day?”

  1. Sonny says:

    Hi, iam 5 feet 10 and weigh 140lb. i have gained about 15 lbs in just over 3 months and i had been gaining muscle mass almost every week. but the last 2 weeks i have not gained a single pound, iam doing all the same things (diet and exercise wise) as i was. what can i do to break this barrier and gain more muscle mass ? …

    thanks

    • dylan says:

      you’ve hit a plateu it seems. this is when you need a new routine. do different things to work out your muscles in different ways. this will result in muscle confusion, which will get you off your plateu!

  2. Marc says:

    Hi,
    34yr Male, 175lb,
    Getting a bit of a belly so thought i would completely change my diet, cut out all processed foods and junk choclate, crisps biscuits etc,
    all i eat now is low fat cereal, fruit veg, fresh fish, chicken, salad, think i need to loose a stone, have also started weight training, been doing it for 2 weeks now, according to my weight i think i would need to consume about 160g of protein a day, is this neccessary if i only work out 3 times a week doing only 3 or four muscle groups at a time and lasting roughly 40mins maybe less, has i say just started so any info would be great.
    Thanks in advance
    Marc…

  3. Slicky t says:

    I’m 25 years old 185 lb and 6 feet tall how do I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time I work out 5 times a week take shake after working out then eat an hour after that and then eat Once more at work at high in protein meals I don’t eat before bed cause I was told u burn fat wile sleeping

  4. Ralph says:

    Hi, i’m having trouble getting a six pack i can see the top 4 packs but can’t get the bottom i been trying for 2 3 months now im 8 percent body fat i don’t follow my calorie intake but i eat healthy peanut butter sandwich with a apple in the morning a salad for lunch and another peanut butter sandwich when i come from work and after working out i have a 51g protein shake and a tuna salad with a hand full of almonds.

  5. According to what I have heard from a muscle building trainer yesterday, to gain weight you should take foods rich in protein based on your weight if your weight is 120 lb you should consume at least 120 grams protein daily till you gain weight then lessen the intake of protein rich foods if you’re starting to build muscle or to exercise.

  6. Uma says:

    I do 5 days of workouts per week (1 hr per day) alternating between 3 days of lower body workouts (squats, lunges, leg lifts and the like) and 2 days of cardio and circuit training. Sometimes I feel like my legs are very tired in the evenings. Am I doing right ? I do follow a low-cal, low oil diet and eat only lean meat n fish and also eat a lot of veggies too.

    • Steve says:

      Sounds like maybe you are overtraining your legs. You should take one full day of rest between leg training so they can recover. And what about upper body workouts? Is that the circuit training?

  7. Liz says:

    hi, im 23 years old and i had a baby 4 months ago…im trying really hard to lose weight but since i never had a weight issue i dont know exactly how to do it… im 170 pounds 5’4 my ideal weight is 130 pounds. how many grams of protein and how many carbs should eat a day?

  8. Adam Graves says:

    Hi im 26 years im 5ft 7 and weigh 80kg. I do a hour free weight session 3 times a week from a gym instructor and 2 seperate evening class, one of spinning the other circuit training and i rest over the weekend. I work as a baker and have to get up at 3am. My calorie intake is 2100 a day i have a bowl of cereals first thing in the morning, protein shake of 2 scoops at 6am, beef sandwich and half a large pot of plain yogurt at 9am. Finish work at 12 goto the gym and have a protein shake after, 2 boiled eggs and toast for lunch at 4pm. Dinner at 7pm of turkey breast and a packet of veg and i will have another protein shake before bed. Im just unsure if im not eating enough to get big but not fat but at the same time i dont want to put on to much weight to look fat and i want to look ripped by not eating to many calories, my goal is to looked stacked but not fat, i also work my abs before each class. So i just needed some advice on what im doing wrong if iam. Thanks for your time. I would much appreciate your response.

  9. Kerrigan says:

    Hi i’m 14 and am 5’2 and weigh 115! I am on the chubby side and wanted to know if you had any good diets and useful information to help me lose weight:)

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  13. Niko says:

    Steve, you are right in saying that 30grams of protein per meal is doable. I’m a shift worker that sometimes can’t get to a fridge or microwave for hours on end. Instead I have a bag full of protein based snacks in my work bag that I use as meal replacements if I need to. I have things like tins of chicken and tuna, packets of beef jerky, whey protein powder in a shaker so all I need to do is add water, lo-carb protein bars and a variety of nuts. I am sure that there are plenty of other options that I haven’t thought of.

  14. Tim A. says:

    Hi I am 19 years old and I weigh roughly around 158-160 lbs. I lift almost every day, and I dance 3 times a week for 3 hours each session. I use Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60 (I take only 1 1/2 – 2 scoops when I use it) before and after I work out, and I also take BeyondRaw Ravage for a preworkout supplement. I live at college so getting 6 meals is nearly impossible, and I have an internship twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays in the morning. Any suggestions on protein intake?

  15. Sara B says:

    Hi!
    I am a 16 year old female, I have gained around 5lbs of muscle so far after a weightloss of 32lbs of fat in the last 4-5 months. I have hit many plateus and now to get back on track, I have brought the INSANITY workout DVDs to increase muscle mass and get a six pack. I was wondering how if whey protein powder is safe for me to take at around 80-90g per day? So a 1-lb of whey powder per month, is that safe?

  16. Dawn Marie Kelly says:

    To Lose Fat:
    I recommend.8 grams of protein per lb of lean body mass for males and females who exercise at least 3 times per week and are trying to lose body fat.
    A 150 lb woman with 25% bodyfat would aim to consume about 90 grams of protein in a day. That’s 3 meals with 20 grams of protein per meal and 3 snacks with 10 grams of protein, and THAT, my friends, is also very doable.

    Read more: http://www.projectswole.com/diet/how-much-protein-should-i-eat-in-a-day/#ixzz1j01yUIh3.

  17. Emily Eveleth says:

    damn, 90 grams of protein per day, how the fuck does one eat that? that's not an obese amount at all…………I consume an easy realistic amount try 20-30 a day, these rda recommendations are obese thinkers.

  18. Vegantic says:

    That’s way too much protein if you ask me!

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