How Much Protein is Ideal for a Healthy Lifestyle?

We need protein? But how much protein is ideal?

If you’re like most people, you may glance at the nutrition profile of your food before consuming it, but you probably don’t bring a calculator to every meal negotiating not only your total calories, but the micro- and macro-nutrients present in each meal.

Among the more critical macronutrients in our diet is protein. It’s the building blocks of our bodies, quite literally. Protein makes our bones, our hair, blood, connective tissue, enzymes, antibodies and more.

Throughout our lives, we’ll need different amounts of protein. And lifestyle can impact that too—if you’re a serious athlete, you may need even more protein than usual, especially if you’re training, say for a triathlon. But generally speaking the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For the average-sized adult, that’s anywhere from 50-60 grams of protein per day.

Of course, as our bodies are not just numbers on a scale, protein intake isn’t just a matter of measuring the right amount. In fact, according to Harvard University, some science suggests we may need even double the RDA. “Based on the totality of the research presented [at The Protein Summit]…taking in up to twice the RDA of protein ‘is a safe and good range to aim for. ’This equates roughly to 15% to 25% of total daily calories, although it could be above or below this range depending on your age, sex, and activity level.”

Some diets like the paleo diet adhere to high levels of protein and fat while strictly limiting carbohydrates. And experts warn that increasing protein doesn’t equate to more burgers or bacon. While animal products are a primary source of protein, many plant foods contain healthy proteins too: think beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and even some fruits, such as the avocado.

The one key to protein intake all experts agree on is making sure it’s quality food sources—whole foods, not processed junk foods. If your diet is well balanced with a focus on whole foods, you’ll feel good enough to know that your diet isn’t lacking in anything.

 image: sombilon photo

 



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