How many grams of protein should I eat a day?

One of the questions we get asked most often is “How many grams of protein should I eat a day?”. It seems everyone has a theory, but many of these theories are based on an incorrect assumption.

You may have heard of theories based on grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Those theories, I’m sorry to say, are false.

I used to think that I should eat 1.2g of protein per llb of body weight myself, some said 1.5g, some say 0.5g.

I’ve since found out that it isn’t about body weight at all.

If you base your intake on your body weight, you may end up either not getting enough protein, or getting too much.

The scientific way to calculate daily protein requirements

The true way to calculate how much protein you should consume a day comes from the number of calories you are eating.

Whether you are trying to lose fat or build muscle, between 10% and 35% of your daily calorific consumption should be from protein.

For example, if you are on a 2000 calorie per day diet, you should consume 50 to 175 grams of protein per day, to deliver 200 to 700 of your daily calories from protein.

If you are consuming 1,800 calories a day, it is recommended to consume 45 to 185 grams of protein per day.

If you are wanting to lose weight aim for the lower end of the range, if you want to build muscle aim for the higher end of the range.

Only 30 grams of protein is absorbed per meal

Remember that only around 30 grams of protein can be absorbed by the body in any one meal, so there is no point in eating larger quantities of protein than this in any one sitting.

Eating a meal of 90 grams of protein will only give you the same benefit as eating a meal with 30 grams of protein, according to a study by the University of Texas.

It therefore makes more sense to eat smaller meals more often, that way your body can metabolise more of the protein that you are consuming, and less goes to waste.

Eating a protein rich breakfast will give you the best start to the day. A protein shake is a very convenient way of ensuring that you start the day with a good source of protein.

A high protein breakfast can reduce hunger

Ensuring that you have protein rich meals throughout the day will help to prevent spikes in your blood sugar levels. These spikes can trigger insulin response, which effectively triggers your body to turn sugar into fat stores – not a desirable action for those seeking to lose weight.

Also avoid eating too much protein later on in the day, as if you are consuming meals with greater than 30 grams of protein late in the day, that excess protein can be oxidised and could eventually end up as extra fat being stored in your body.

If you are working out, ensure that you have a good source of protein both before and after your workout. The best timing for this is up to 30 minutes before your workout, and up to 30 minutes after your workout.

Source: Dr. Douglas Patton-Jones Ph.D.

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