Protein is an essential nutrient for the body – it’s the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, hormones and key for growth. Read more about protein in another article of mine here. There is lots of debate and multiple opinions around how much protein we actually need. But how much protein is really the right amount?
In this article I will discuss how much protein we actually need in relation to activity levels (which not all recommendations do). And I’ll bust some key myths around protein intake.
How much protein do I need?
For the average person who is inactive, this being not playing sports, weight training, or endurance training regularly, a modest amount of protein is recommended. The NHS recommends that on average an adult consumes 50g of protein each day.
But, we all have different weights and thus varying degrees of muscle mass to sustain through protein intake; so I feel this recommendation by the NHS is not representative enough of different body types. A 2007 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization set out the protein recommended dietary allowance (RDA) at 0.83g per kilogram or body weight per day. This is expected to meet the needs of 97.5% of the world’s healthy adult population.
It’s also worth taking into account a person’s activity levels when looking at how much protein they should be consuming. The RDA set out for protein by the WHO and Food & Agriculture Organisation does not consider the levels of energy expenditure by individuals. The greater intensity an individual trains at, the greater the requirement for protein that individual has in order to promote muscle tissue growth and repair. For example, if someone is looking to build muscle mass and undertaking frequent weight training then their daily protein intake will need to be higher. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that strength trainers and endurance training the daily protein intake increases to 1.2-2.0g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. Note that this only applies to people who train often and at a high intensity.
Myth 1 – Too much protein will make me fat
No. Too much protein will NOT make you fat alone. Gaining weight is simply due to the balance of calories you intake versus the amount you metabolise. Therefore, too many calories will make you gain weight, not too much protein.
Myth 2 – You can have too much protein
There is no evidence that too much protein is dangerous (except for those with kidney or liver issues). According to the NHS, the Department of Health advises adults to avoid consuming more than twice the recommended daily intake of protein (50g a day). But, as I’ve outlined above there are other key sources that recommend higher amounts of protein in line with activity levels. So, 100g of protein each day for a sedentary person may be too much, but for an athlete this may even be too little.
Myth 3 – Meat is the only source of protein
Whilst meat may be the richest source of protein (in terms of grams of protein per 100g), there are many other sources. Some other vegetarian sources of protein are eggs, cheese, pulses, nuts, seeds and tofu. Even a vegan diet can get provide enough protein.
For most, 0.83g of protein per kg of bodyweight will be sufficient. If you’re worried about whether you’re eating enough protein, why not book a Nutritional Analysis Consultation with me? Submit an appointment request here or drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.