As you now know, your daily protein intake plays an absolutely crucial role in terms of the overall health and function of your body.
And if you want to lose fat, build muscle, or really just improve the way your body looks or performs in virtually any capacity, protein (and how much of it you eat per day) becomes even more important.
So, now that you know why you need it, the question becomes how much of it do you need? Exactly how much protein is ideal for you, your diet, and your specific goal?
How much protein should you get per day?
Surprisingly, the most common recommendations for how much protein you should eat per day when you’re trying to improve your body don’t typically vary by too much and instead tend to fall within a similar range.
For most of the people, most of the time, that recommended range is: 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
(When in doubt, the old standby recommendation of “1 gram of protein per pound of body weight” which has been around the fitness world for decades is a fine middle-of-the-road protein intake for most people.)
So, in order to figure out how much protein you should eat per day, you just need to multiply your current body weight (in pounds) by the amount recommended on the chart above.
- Let’s say a 130lb woman has the goal of building some muscle, or getting “toned,” or losing fat (while maintaining muscle). She’d simply multiply 130 by 1-1.2 and get a daily protein intake of between 130-156 grams per day.
- Now let’s say a 180lb man wanted to build muscle, or maintain muscle while losing fat, or improve strength/performance. He’d do 180 x 1-1.5 and get a daily protein intake of between 180-270 grams per day.
Basically, just multiply your current body weight in pounds by your recommended ideal protein intake. The answer you get is the ideal range for how many grams of protein you should eat per day.
Your daily protein intake is now all figured out.
(*NOTE* In the case of people of are VERY overweight, your ideal protein intake will be overestimated if you use your current body weight due to the excessive amount of fat on your body. So, for true obese individuals, your target body weight should be used instead. For example, a 300lb man looking to get down to 200lbs would use 200lbs as their weight when calculating how much protein they should eat per day.)
As long as you are somewhere within that ideal range, your protein intake is absolutely perfect and it will produce the best results/benefits possible.
High protein foods:
Below is a quick, simple and basic list of the most common high protein foods.
- Chicken (skinless)
- Turkey (skinless)
- Fish (all kinds)
- Beef (leaner cuts)
- Pork (leaner cuts)
- Whole Eggs
- Egg Whites
- Protein Supplements (whey protein powder, casein protein powder, protein bars, etc.)
- Beans (all kinds)
- Nuts (all kinds)
This is by no means the definitive list of every food that contains protein, but it is a list of the ones that will provide the majority of your daily protein intake.
How to factor protein into your daily caloric intake
Now that you know how much protein you should eat per day and have a good idea of which foods will be providing that protein, there’s one final step to complete.
We need to factor your daily protein intake into the ideal daily calorie intake you figured out before. Don’t worry… it’s easy.
You just need to know that 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories.
So, all you need to do is multiply the grams of protein you’re going to eat each day by 4 to figure out exactly how many calories your protein intake will account for. Here’s 2 examples…
- Using the same 130lb woman from the example before, let’s say she decided to go with an even 130 grams of protein per day. She would do 130 x 4 = 520. In this example, 520 calories out of her total daily calorie intake will come from protein each day.
- Using the same 180lb man from the example before, let’s say he decided to go with an even 220 grams of protein per day. He’d do 220 x 4 = 880. In this example, 880 calories out of his total daily calorie intake will come from protein each day.
Now it’s your turn. Multiply the ideal protein intake you calculated a minute ago by 4. That’s how many calories protein will account for in your diet each day.
This step might seem pointless or confusing (or both) right now, but don’t worry. It will make perfect sense as we continue putting the rest of your diet plan together. You’ll see… I promise.