Protein is the most important nutrient for people who wish to lose weight or bulk up. Getting enough protein each day is essential for good health and proper body functioning. It gives you an energy boost and helps you keep your muscle mass. However, if you want to lose weight, you need to eat enough protein. In other words, how much food should you be eating daily?
Table of Contents
How much protein should I eat per day?
Protein intake should be between 0.27 and 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (about 0.6 to 0.8 grams/kilogram) according to clinical nutrition recommendationsBauer J, Biolo G, Cederholm T, et al. (2013). Evidence-Based Recommendations for Optimal Dietary Protein Intake in Older People: A Position Paper From the PROT-AGE Study Group. … Continue reading. This equates to approximately 50–65 grams of protein per day for an average American adult (181 pounds).
A person who engages in intensive exercise on a daily basis should eat at least 0.5 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound (about 2 to 3 grams/kilogram) of body weight to compensate for the energy lost during the activity. The optimal time to eat would be before and after the session.
If you’re aiming to lose weight and tone up, consider raising your protein intake to 30% of your calories or around 1 gram per pound of body weight every day.
What are the best sources of protein?
Note that certain foods that are high in protein also contain a high amount of saturated fat. Consuming an excessive amount of saturated fat can raise your cholesterol and put you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Below are some of the best and the healthiest sources of protein.
One large egg has 6 grams of protein and 78 calories i.e., 33% of calories in a whole eggFoodData Central (2019). Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled.
One roasted chicken breast without skin contains 53 grams and only 284 calories or 75% of caloriesFoodData Central (2019). Chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted.
One 6-ounce (170-gram) container of greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein and only 100 calories – 69% of caloriesFoodData Central (2019). Yogurt, Greek, plain, nonfat.
One cup (96 grams) of chopped broccoli has 3 grams of protein and only 31 calories or 33% of caloriesFoodData Central (2019). Broccoli, raw.
What else can help to lose weight?
- Regular Exercise. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health PromotionElson L (2019). The new exercise guidelines: Any changes for you?
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-new-exercise-guidelines-any-changes-for-you-2018121415623, adults should get between 150 and 300 minutes of exercise per week. Cardiovascular exercises burn more calories than other types of exercise. Additionally, it is recommended to incorporate strength training at least twice a week. You can also achieve weight loss without workout.
- Hydration. Drinking water is critical for a variety of reasons, but it is well-known to affect how full you feel. Indeed, research indicates that insufficient hydration is associated with increased body mass, even after controlling for other factors.
- Supplementation. However, when cooking for a large group of people, it might be challenging to find time to meal prep or meet your macro and micro nutrient demands just through food. When you’re on the go and need a quick fix, protein supplements like whey or blended plant-based protein powder or snack bars are fantastic options.
Protein and Satiety
According to a 2017 studyMorell P, Fiszman S (2016). Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety. doi:10.1016/j.foodhyd.2016.08.003, protein was the most efficient macronutrient for increasing feelings of fullness, owing in part to hormones generated by the body following the intake of a high-protein meal. When compared to refined and simple carbs, the majority of protein sources (discussed further below) are comparatively low in calories.
That is why the positive association between protein and satiety is so beneficial for weight loss. Cambridge University research published in 2012Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG & Westerterp KR (2012) Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. British Journal of Nutrition 108, S105–S112. Cambridge … Continue reading reveals that the success of many popular low-carb diets today may be due to the resultant increase in protein consumption, not necessarily a decrease in carbohydrate consumption.
Apart from its role in maintaining a feeling of fullness, protein helps maintain muscle massCarbone JW, Pasiakos SM. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients. 2019 May 22;11(5):1136. doi: 10.3390/nu11051136. PMID: 31121843; PMCID: … Continue reading while you are in a negative energy balance, the technical word for what is generally known as a caloric deficit: burning more calories than you consume. Protein is critical for those who are losing weight while keeping a strength training plan and wish to avoid muscle loss as much as possible.
While many various diets are effective for weight loss, one of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a diet is the protein level. Protein has been known to improve satiety, help in the maintenance of lean body mass, somewhat increase the thermic effect of food, and decrease the body’s efficiency in storing excess calories as body fat.
|↑1||Bauer J, Biolo G, Cederholm T, et al. (2013). Evidence-Based Recommendations for Optimal Dietary Protein Intake in Older People: A Position Paper From the PROT-AGE Study Group. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2013.05.021|
|↑2||FoodData Central (2019). Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled.|
|↑3||FoodData Central (2019). Chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted.|
|↑4||FoodData Central (2019). Yogurt, Greek, plain, nonfat.|
|↑5||FoodData Central (2019). Broccoli, raw.|
|↑6||Elson L (2019). The new exercise guidelines: Any changes for you?|
|↑7||Morell P, Fiszman S (2016). Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety. doi:10.1016/j.foodhyd.2016.08.003|
|↑8||Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG & Westerterp KR (2012) Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. British Journal of Nutrition 108, S105–S112. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/S0007114512002589|
|↑9||Carbone JW, Pasiakos SM. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients. 2019 May 22;11(5):1136. doi: 10.3390/nu11051136. PMID: 31121843; PMCID: PMC6566799.|