Protein is essential for a variety of bodily functions—making hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, and enzymes, to name a few. Adequate protein in your diet can help you feel satiated longer throughout the day. Varying amounts of protein are found in beef, chicken, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds. But how much do we need to eat per day? According to Harvard Health, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for the average person is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. To make that math a little simpler, the experts at Harvard Health suggest multiplying your weight in pounds by 0.36. Using this formula, a sedentary man weighing 190 pounds would eat 68 grams of protein per day. For a 2000 calorie per day diet, 68 grams is about 14 percent of total calories.1 This is a great starting point for a sedentary person who wants to start tracking his or her protein intake, but this isn’t a concrete rule. This amount can be modified depending on your level of activity, and there have been many studies on the effect that varying levels of protein intake can have on our bodies. For example, for those looking to lose weight, one small study of 19 subjects showed that a nonrestrictive diet that sourced 30 percent of calories from protein yielded a weight loss of about 11 pounds over 12 weeks.2
To calculate that amount in grams, we take the amount of calories consumed (e.g., 2000) and multiply this by 30 percent (2000 x 0.30=600 calories of protein). One gram of protein contains roughly four calories, so we divide 600 by 4 to get 150g of protein.
For those looking to maintain weight, a larger study that included 148 subjects who had recently lost weight showed that a slightly increased protein intake of 18 percent of total calories yielded increased satiety and less weight regain over three months.
Importantly, the weight that was regained among this group was
fat-free mass (i.e., muscle).3
Harvard Health reports that protein intake will be more effective if spaced out evenly throughout the day, as opposed to consuming all of it in one hefty meal.1
you-need-every-day-201506188096. Published 18 June 2015. Updated 8 Jan 2018. Accessed 29 Aug 2018.
weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):41–48.
- Westerterp-PlantengaMS,LejeuneMP,NijsI,vanOoijenM,KovacsEM.Highproteinintakesustainsweightmaintenanceafterbody inintakesustainsweightmaintenanceafterbody