How Much Protein Do You Really Need To Eat Every Day?
Most of us know how vital it is to get complete, high quality protein in our diets every day, but knowing how much protein is enough protein to keep our bodies functioning in a healthy way might not be as obvious.
One of the basic building blocks of our bodies, protein is used to build and maintain muscles, most organs and hormones and to make hemoglobin and antibodies. In fact, each and every cell in our bodies uses protein in some capacity. And importantly, we need to get optimal protein at every meal for our metabolism to work smoothly so that we can maintain a healthy, lean body at an ideal weight. We have 16% body protein -- in muscles, connective tissue, skin and hair.
So is there a minimum protein amount that we need? A maximum protein amount? What's the deal?
It's pretty hard to eat too much protein, but plenty of people don’t get enough. And just so you know, if you don't eat any protein, your body will start to break down muscles to get what it needs within a few days.
Here's what you need when it comes to protein nutrition...
Protein is recommended at an absolute minimum of a 1/2-gram per pound of bodyweight per day for people who don't get exercise and 1 full gram of protein per pound of bodyweight for people who are active in any way.
This means if you weigh 120 pounds, you should be getting at least 60 grams of protein a day. If you weigh 200 pounds, you need at least 100 grams of protein a day. And if you work out (which you should be!), you need even more: 120 grams of healthy protein for someone who weighs 120 pounds and 200 grams of protein a day for someone who weighs 200 pounds. That's quite a bit of protein nutrition to think about!
But you can see, it's definitely critical to maintain a protein rich diet. So let's look at some ways for you to get the right amount of healthy protein every day.
How To Get Protein in The Right Amounts
The best protein
is lean protein. Here are ten optimum protein choices:
- whey protein powder (40 grams for 2 scoops)
- lean chicken (30 grams for 3.5 oz, fist-size)
- wild fish (22 grams for 3.5 oz)
- high quality whey protein bars (21 grams per Permalean protein bar)
- tofu (20 grams for 1/2 cup)
Whey High Quality Protein is the Answer
is the most bio-available source of protein, meaning that the body quickly absorbs the protein, and it's our top choice when it comes to getting in daily protein nutrition needs.
As mentioned above, two scoops of ProEnergy high quality protein powder
, for example, gives you 40 grams of healthy protein! That's quite a bit.
AND protein rich ProEnergy powder is a fantastically easy way to get healthy protein because you can simply add water, sprinkle it on a meal, or preferably, add in a few extras (like nuts, fresh fruit and green powder) for a protein shake that has all the ingredients for a complete protein-rich drink/meal. In fact, we recommend the ultra-healthy EnergyFirst Protein Shake for breakfast every day. Click here for the basic recipe and then click for more tasty protein shake recipes, like the Blackberry Crunch, Tropical Dream, Strawberry-Mango Bliss, Vanilla Nut and Chocoholics Delight.
In addition to having short prep-time, whey protein powder and whey shakes are easy, protein-rich choices because you can take the powder with you if you're traveling or even keep a stash at the office. Plus, it tastes pretty darn good with its chocolate and vanilla flavor, so kids love it too.
Cooking with lean protein -- try to get protein, healthy fats and unprocessed carbs at every meal
Depending on your protein choices, it can be helpful to come up with a few favorite dishes and have the ingredients on hand so that you're sure to get healthy protein, fats and carbs at every meal.
It's important that you get all three nutrients (protein, carbs, fats) at every meal to ensure a healthy metabolism. Here's why. Your cells need the carbs to function (carbs = glucose = fuel/energy) but need the protein and fats to process the carbs in a steady stream. If you eat only carbs, you get a "sugar rush" and then crash and go into starvation mode. This means nothing functions properly. You can't think. You're hungry and tend to overeat. And whatever carbs/glucose you do eat in this state is stored as fat not used as energy. But get your protein/fats/carbs and your body gets the right amount of carbs and burns fat as fuel efficiently.
If it helps, make a new meal plan/schedule at the beginning of every week. You don't need to stick to it exactly but at least you'll know you have what you need in the fridge/cupboard. And try starting each day with a protein shake breakfast and you'll have already knocked off 40 protein grams!
You can also have high quality protein snacks on hand that don't require any prep time, like raw almonds, mixed nuts and seeds, protein food bars or even protein-rich leftovers.
High protein energy bars that taste like candy -- a fun little protein supply trick.
We love protein bars. And if you're a busy professional and/or parent or have a big sweet tooth, you'll love them too! You can throw them in your handbag, your gym bag, your car, your cupboard or your kid's lunch box. And you're always going to be happy when you're hungry. Just grab one and feel satisfied. And what's great is they have a lot of high quality protein! Our favorite protein bar is the Permalean bar because it's low in carbs, low in sugar, full of natural ingredients to support your health-conscious nutritional plan and, as mentioned earlier, has 21 grams of protein in each bar!
High protein energy bars are also an excellent choice for serious weightlifters (as well as anyone who wants to be smart about working out). The high levels of protein are designed to help your body build muscle and burn fat while in heavy training mode as they help keep your metabolism stable, furnishing your body with a steady supply of fuel.
Optimum Protein Diet Plan
To make it simple for you to get the protein nutrition you need, we came up with this high-protein checklist:
[ ] Figure out how much healthy protein you need every day.
If you don't exercise:
____ (your weight) /2 = ____ grams of protein per day
If you do exercise:
____ (your weight) x 1 gram = ____ grams of protein per day
[ ] Have an EnergyFirst protein shake for breakfast every day and get 40 grams of protein right off the bat.
[ ] Have a plan to get the rest of your protein from other foods and snacks. Try to include carbs and healthy fats with your protein at every meal. If you don't have a whey protein shake for breakfast, try one for lunch or dinner. (It may look and taste like an ice-cream shake, but if you add in the green powder ), it has the same nutritional value as salmon and spinach!).
[ ] Keep high quality protein snacks on hand. Protein bars and protein-rich leftovers are great options. Protein powder shakes can be a great snack too, by the way!
Start Now with Your Healthy Protein Shopping List
Make sure you have the healthy protein you need on-hand each week. Here are some shopping tips on our favorite protein sources.
- All-natural, high-quality whey protein powder. Whey protein is your best bet when it comes to getting the maximum protein absorbency, and whey protein powder is what you need for your breakfast shakes. We recommend EnergyFirst ProEnergy Powder . It's high quality, all natural and comes in two great flavors (chocolate and vanilla). And EnergyFirst provides a money-back guarantee.
- Wild fish. Eat wild fish not farm-raised (farm-raised doesn't have the healthy omega 3s ), but keep wild fish to two times a week because of the mercury content. Salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are great choices. Buy local fresh. Or buy frozen; surprisingly, frozen fish is often more fresh because it's frozen right when it comes out of the water (instead of sitting on the boat for weeks before making it back to shore and into your kitchen).
- Quinoa. This grain is a complete protein. Buy local and organic.
- High protein energy bars. We searched high and low for the perfect high-protein food bar and found the Permalean Bar. So naturally, that's what we recommend. It comes in tasty Chocoholic Chocolate and Stark Raving Peanuts. There's also a money-back guarantee on Permalean Bars so be sure to stock up.