Protein 101: Calculating Your Daily Protein Needs for Optimal Health
General Nutrition • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
Protein is a vital macronutrient that plays a crucial role in our body, from building and repairing tissues to producing hormones and enzymes. The amount of protein that an individual needs depends on several factors, including age, activity level, and overall health.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein has been set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) based on these factors.
- For sedentary adults, the RDA for protein is 0.8 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. This means that an adult who weighs 70 kilograms needs 56 to 84 grams of protein per day.
- For physically active adults who do strength training, the RDA is higher, at 1.3 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
- Healthy adults who consume protein over the long term and athletes with experience can consume up to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight.
- Endurance athletes, on the other hand, need around 1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight.
It’s important to note that there is an upper limit to the amount of protein that can be safely consumed, which is 3.5 grams per kilogram of body weight for well-adapted individuals.
Is Protein Requirement Calculation different for Overweight Individuals?
It’s important to note that for those with a high body weight, the RDA for protein should be calculated based on their lean body mass, rather than their total body weight. This is because individuals who have a high body weight may have a higher proportion of body fat, which doesn’t require protein for maintenance and growth.
Lean body mass, on the other hand, refers to the amount of tissue in the body that is made up of muscle, bones, and organs. It’s the part of the body that requires protein for maintenance and growth. By calculating protein requirements based on lean body mass, individuals can ensure that they are getting enough protein to support the needs of their lean tissue.
To calculate your lean body mass, you can use a body composition scale or have a health professional perform a skinfold measurement or bioelectrical impedance analysis. More details on Calculating Lean Mass in this article here.
Once you have determined your lean body mass, you can then use the RDA guidelines to determine your daily protein requirement.
In conclusion, the amount of protein required by each individual depends on several factors, including age, activity level, and overall health. By following the RDA guidelines, you can ensure that you are getting enough protein to support your body’s needs. for individuals with a high body weight, it’s important to calculate their protein requirements based on their lean body mass, rather than their total body weight. This helps to ensure that they are getting enough protein to support the needs of their lean tissue. It’s important to remember that too much protein can be harmful, so it’s best to stick to the recommended limits.
- Genton, L. and Pichard, C. (2011) ‘Protein catabolism and requirements in severe illness’, International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition, 81(2–3), pp. 143–152. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/A000058.
- Wu, G. (2016) ‘Dietary protein intake and human health’, Food & Function, 7(3), pp. 1251–1265. doi: 10.1039/C5FO01530H.
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