How Much Protein Should You Eat?

Protein deficiency may lead to reduced intelligence or to several other serious health conditions. On the other hand, protein excess also represents a health threat, especially to your liver and kidneys. In these conditions, you have to find out what your protein daily requirement is, so you can stay between safe limits.

Calculating the Daily Protein Requirement

If you want to find out your daily protein requirement, you can either use an online calculator or calculate it yourself, provided that you know your ideal body weight. There are numerous Web sites featuring daily protein requirement calculators that need only two parameters: your gender and your height. As soon as this information is known, your ideal body weight is displayed, along with the recommended daily protein intake. Keep in mind, though, that if you are participating in endurance training you will need a slightly greater protein intake.

Find Out Your Ideal Body Weight and Protein Intake Requirements

In order to calculate the ideal weight, you only have to know your height. For example, the ideal body weight for women, in both imperial and metric units, is:

  • 100 pounds for the first 60 inches and 5 pounds for every inch after that
  • 45 kg for the first 150 cm and 0.85 kg for every cm after that

On the other hand, the ideal weight for men is:

  • 106 pounds for 60 inches and 6 pounds for every inch after that
  • 48 kg for 150 cm and 1 kg for each cm after that

Once your ideal body weight is known, you are able to calculate the recommended daily protein intake by using a simple formula. According to the World Health Organization, the minimum daily protein intake is 0.45 grams for each kg of ideal  body weight. USRDA (United States Recommended Daily Allowances) suggests that the upper limit is 0.8 grams of protein for each kg of ideal body weight.

Low Protein and High Protein Diets

Being protein deficient is rare in developed countries. Virtually any dietary plan that includes complex carbohydrates is able to provide the necessary daily intake of protein. In order to develop protein deficiency, you would have to consume only sugar, which is a simple carbohydrate, for prolonged periods of time.

High protein diets, on the other hand, can be dangerous, and are thus more harmful than low protein diets. Contrary to some schools of thought, muscle strength does not increase when protein intake is augmented. During training, the recommended daily intake increases, but only by a bit. Some of the health risks implied by excess protein consumption are:

  • First of all, proteins contain nitrogen that is turned into ammonia in the liver. Since this substance is poisonous, high protein diets may actually lead to a drop in performance.
  • Kidneys overwork when they need to process more than 2 g of protein for each kg of ideal body weight
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency may develop when following a high protein diet, as this vitamin is required for amino acid metabolism
  • Osteoporosis appears as a consequence of calcium loss, a fact that accompanies high protein diets

Hence, it is best to make sure that your diet meets the minimum protein intake requirement, but does not exceed the maximum. By taking this measure, you avoid the aforementioned health risks.

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