Our protein needs will depend on our weight, activity level, and goals.
We calculate protein first because it’s essential for so many aspects of good health, including fat loss, muscle gain and maintenance, and athletic performance and recovery.
Use the table below to figure out how much protein you need in grams per pound or kilogram of bodyweight.
PROTEIN NEEDS IN Grm/LB
Maintenance / improve health Fat loss / body recomposition
- Lightly active (<3 hours/week) 0.6 to 0.9 0.7 to 1.0 0.8 to 1.1
- Moderately active (3-7 hours/week) 0.7 to 1.0 0.8 to 1.1 0.9 to 1.2
- Highly active (>7 hours/week) 0.8 to 1.1 0.9 to 1.2 1.0 to 1.3
If you’re new to healthy eating or have a hard time getting protein into your diet, start with the lower end of the range.
If you’re ready for more advanced nutrition protocols, or you’re a dedicated exerciser, aim for the higher end.
So, a 170-pound nutrition beginner who’s lightly active and wants to lose fat might choose the factor 0.8 g/lb from the range 0.7 to 1.0.
**170 pounds x 0.8 = 136 grams of protein / day**
A highly active 165-pound experienced lifter who wants to gain muscle might choose the factor 1.2 g/lb from the range 1.0 to 1.3.
**165 pounds x 1.2 = 198 grams of protein / day**
Note: For professional athletes, lean individuals trying to get very lean, and experienced lifters trying to minimize fat gain when adding body weight, protein requirements may go as high as 1.5 g/lb or 3.3 g/kg.
- Children under 4: 13 grams
- Children ages 4 to 8: 19 grams
- Children ages 9 to 13: 34 grams
- Women and Girls ages 14 and over: 46 grams
- Boys ages 14 to 18: 52 grams
- Men ages 19 and over: 56 grams
In simple terms, almost everyone should get 10% to 35% of their calories each day in the form of protein. You need more calories for activities like biking, lifting weights, or running, but the percentage of protein remains in the same range.
After age 40, you can start to lose muscle mass, a condition known as sarcopenia, and you may need more protein.
If you’re overweight, you’ll need to lower your calorie intake. A dietitian can help you figure out how much protein you should have.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein?
High-quality sources of protein include:
- Lean beef or pork (in limited amounts)
- Dairy products
- Legumes, like beans, peas, or lentils
- Grains, like wheat, rice, or corn
However, be careful of what your Protien intake. Focusing just on protein and fat can keep you from getting all the nutrients you need, and that can lead to unhealthy side effects. That can lead to fatigue, dizziness, headache, bad breath and constipation.