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How Much Protein Do I Need and How Can I Get It?

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a critical role in building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and maintaining muscle mass. However, the amount of protein each person needs can vary based on factors like age, sex, activity level, and overall health status.

Determining Your Protein Needs

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for the average adult. This means that a sedentary person weighing 70 kilograms (about 154 pounds) would need approximately 56 grams of protein daily. However, athletes, older adults, pregnant women, and those recovering from illness or injury require more protein to support their specific needs.

  • Research suggests that older adults need 1-1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight to promote muscle health (70-84 grams per day in the example above)
  • The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people who lift weights or train for endurance events should consume 1.2-1.7g per kilogram of body weight per day
  • Studies suggest that lactating women need 1.7-1.9g per kilogram of body weight to maintain her own muscle mass while providing adequate nutrition for the baby.

Sources of Protein

  1. Animal Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are rich sources of complete proteins, meaning they provide all essential amino acids our bodies need.
  2. Plant-Based Sources: Legumes (beans, lentils, peas), tofu, tempeh, edamame, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like barley and buckwheat are excellent sources of plant-based proteins. While these may lack one or two essential amino acids, combining different plant protein sources throughout the day can ensure you get all of the necessary amino acids.
  3. Protein Supplements: Protein powders, shakes, and bars can be convenient ways to supplement your protein intake, especially for athletes or those with higher protein needs. Just be sure to look for products with recognizable ingredients and avoid highly processed products when possible.

Tips for Increasing Protein Intake

  • Start the Day with Protein: We recommend 20-30 grams of protein at breakfast to set the tone for the day. This helps with satiety and is a great start to meeting daily protein goals.
  • Include Protein in Every Meal: Aim to include a source of protein (animal or plant-based) in each meal to help meet your daily requirements.
  • Snack Smart: Opt for protein-rich snacks like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, or hard-boiled eggs to keep you full and satisfied between meals.
  • Plan Balanced Meals: Combine protein with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats for balanced nutrition and sustained energy levels.

Conclusion

Meeting your daily protein needs is essential for overall health and well-being but takes intentional planning. Whether you prefer animal or plant-based sources, incorporating a variety of protein-rich foods into your diet ensures you receive the necessary nutrients to support your body’s functions. By understanding your individual protein requirements and making thoughtful choices about your diet, you can maintain optimal health and vitality throughout your life.

In our commitment to provide whole body treatment of pelvic floor disorders and identify the root cause of dysfunction, Pelvic Path now offers Nutritional Health Coaching services with Dr. Nicole Scheel. Head over to her bio or give us a call to learn more about these added services.

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Author

Dr. Marci Silverberg

MPT, PPCES- Owner and Founder

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