How Much Protein is Enough?

by Valerie Demetros

There’s no doubt that protein is important. It aids in building strong muscles and bones, and it helps your body perform many functions necessary to stay healthy.

How much protein you need depends on many factors including your age, activity level and health goals. As a baseline, sedentary adults need at least 0.8 grams of protein daily per 2.2 pounds of body weight (1 kg).

To determine your needs, you’ll need to crunch some numbers. Take your weight in pounds and divide that number by 2.2, then multiply that number by 0.8. For instance, a person who weighs 132 pounds would need 48 grams of protein per day (0.8 × 132/2.2).

Your protein needs are closely related to your current muscle mass, so the more muscle you have the more protein you need. And the more physically active you are the more protein you need.

Experts also advise it’s healthier to spread out your protein during the day (not just one powerful protein shake or a huge steak for dinner, sorry).

But remember, this is for a sedentary lifestyle. There is no one-size-fits-all number, and you’ll need more protein to build muscle with resistance training.

A study published in 2022 found that 1.5g of protein per kg of weight is optimal for building or maintaining muscle. So that means if our 132-pound example above is looking to build muscle with a resistance-training workout, she would need 102g of protein per day (1.5 x 132/2.2).

But there’s no shortcut; you won’t gain muscle simply by increasing your protein intake. You have to do the work to reap the benefits.

If you’re looking to eat right and lose weight, switching up your protein intake may be just the ticket. That’s because your body uses more calories from protein to digest and metabolize your food. Consequently, studies show that high-protein diets boost metabolism and help burn fat.

Protein also takes longer to digest than carbs, which helps you feel full longer. So theoretically, increasing your protein should help you eat less.

Talk to a nutritionist about what is right for you. Eating too much or too little protein can also affect your body, so make sure you are getting just what you need to stay healthy.