Protein shake being drunk after a workout by a male.

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues in the body. It is important to consume enough protein to maintain good health, but how much protein do you need per day? In this blog post, we will explore the recommended daily intake of protein and the factors that can affect it.

How much protein is needed each day. Image shows various sources of protein in a bicep

Recommended Daily Intake – Protein

The recommended daily intake of protein varies depending on age, sex, weight, and activity level. In Australia, the recommended daily intake of protein (RDI) for the average sedentary adult is:

Male Protein RDI

Males .84 grams x per kilogram of body weight per day. This means that a male who weighs 68 kg (150 pounds) should consume about 55 grams of protein per day.

Female Protein RDI

Females .75 grams x per kilogram of body weight per day. This means that a female who weighs 68 kg (150 pounds) should consume about 51 grams of protein per day.

Physical Activity Level

However, people who are more physically active or have higher muscle mass will require more protein. For example, athletes and bodybuilders may need up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to support muscle growth and repair.

To accurately calculate your required protein needs you should book an appointment for an assessment.

Factors That Affect Protein Needs

As mentioned earlier, protein needs can vary depending on several factors. Here are some of the factors that can affect your daily protein requirements:

  • Age: Older adults may require more protein to maintain muscle mass and prevent muscle degeneration and loss.
  • Sex: Men generally require more protein than women due to their larger muscle mass.
  • Weight: Heavier individuals may require more protein to support their body weight.
  • Activity level: People who are physically active or engage in regular exercise will require more protein to support muscle growth and repair.
  • Health status: People with certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, may need to limit their protein intake.
  • Weight Loss: Those undergoing a weight-loss plan may require more protein to prevent muscle catabolism and to assist in satiety.
Protein needs circle of various types on meat and plant protein types on a grey background

Protein Sources

Protein can be found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Eggs and dairy products
  • Legumes, such as beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy products, such as tofu and tempeh

It is important to consume your protein from a wide variety of sources to ensure that you are getting all the essential amino acids and micronutrients that your body needs.

Sources of protein are both animal and plant-based. Plants sources can come with the added challenge of being incomplete proteins.

Plant-Based Protein Sources

Incomplete proteins are proteins that lack one or more of the essential amino acids that our body needs to function properly. Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot produce on its own and must be obtained through the diet. Incomplete proteins are usually found in plant-based foods such as grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds

The lack of essential amino acids in incomplete proteins can be problematic for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet as they may not be getting all the necessary amino acids. However, by consuming a variety of plant-based foods, vegetarians and vegans can still obtain all the essential amino acids they need.

Combining different sources of incomplete proteins can create a complete protein. For example, combining rice and beans in a meal will provide all the essential amino acids our body needs. Other combinations of incomplete proteins include hummus and pita bread, peanut butter, and whole wheat bread, and lentil soup with whole grain crackers.

Do you know what plant products are complete proteins?

It is important to note that while incomplete proteins may not contain all the essential amino acids, they still provide many other important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, incorporating a variety of incomplete protein sources into your diet can still provide many health benefits.

Vegan protein sources pictured on a wooden background with a blackboard

What are Branch Chain Amino Acids

The three Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids have a unique molecule structure earning them the name branched-chain amino acids. These are essential and cannot be produced by the body so they must be obtained through diet.

BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) unlike other protein types is not broken down in the liver. These particular amino acids are processed by the muscles. The result of the muscles breaking down the amino acid is the protein is immediately available to the muscles. Consuming BCAAs has been shown to play a key role in muscle protein synthesis which is the process of building and repairing muscle tissue.

BCAA & Athletes

BCAA protein is often used by athletes and bodybuilders to support muscle growth and recovery. They are often taken before or after exercise to support muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness.

In addition to their muscle-building benefits, BCAAs may also have other health benefits. For example, they may help improve insulin sensitivity, which can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. They may also help reduce muscle loss in people with certain medical conditions, such as cancer or liver disease.

BCAA protein supplements are available in various forms, including powders, capsules, and ready-to-drink beverages. It is important to note that while BCAA protein supplements can be beneficial for athletes and bodybuilders, they should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet.

If you are interested in trying a high-protein shake that includes both natural protein and quality protein powder try my green breakfast smoothie. This is an example of using real food to get protein and micronutrients to support all your nutrient needs.

Consuming a variety of protein sources, including whole foods such as chicken, eggs, salmon, yoghurt, chickpeas, and nuts is important to ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs.

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Weights on the floor for a workout.

FAQ Protein

There are so many myths associated with protein. I thought I would answer some of the most common questions I get asked.

I heard the body can only absorb 25 grams of protein in a meal, is this true?

This is incorrect, it will absorb all the protein but what is used will depend on the activity level and the needs of the individual.

If I consume 100 grams of steak have I consumed 100 grams of protein?

No, each food item will yield varying amounts of protein. 100 grams of red meat has approximately 30 grams of protein.

Will excess protein be turned into fat?

No, the human body cannot store excess protein. Amino acids which are not needed get broken down by the liver and removed by the kidneys. They will not be turned into fat.

Can consuming a high-protein diet lead to kidney damage?

it has been established that consuming up to 3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily is safe for anyone that has healthy kidneys and is free from kidney disease.

Is it necessary to eat protein within 30 minutes of a weight training (resistance) workout?

Protein is recommended within 3 to 4 hours after resistance training however the protein requirements can be elevated for between 24 and 48 hours after a workout depending on intensity.

If I don’t have time to work out, can I just take my muscle-building protein supplement for muscle gain?

No, protein will only be used as it is needed for body functions. Without physical stimulation and resistance, muscles will not develop. Excess protein will be excreted as waste.

Only bodybuilders need protein!

False, protein is needed for all biological processes on a daily basis and is essential for optimal health.

Are protein shakes necessary when you do resistance training?

No, they aren’t necessary. Adequate amounts of bioavailable protein can be found in food. However, shakes are a convenient source of protein if a quality brand is selected.

Protein shake being drunk after a workout by a male.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the recommended daily intake of protein is between .75 and .84 grams. This estimate is for a sedentary person per day, depending on sex. Protein needs can vary significantly depending on factors such as age, sex, weight, activity level, and health status.

By consuming a variety of protein sources, you can ensure that you are getting all the essential amino acids that your body needs to maintain good health.

Vegetarians, vegans, athletes, and those on a weight-loss diet should be particularly mindful of their protein consumption. These groups will have different needs from the general population.

Oh, and the answer to which plant-based proteins are complete. Five common foods that are complete proteins are chia seeds, hemp, soy, tempeh, and quinoa.

I hope this article has helped you learn more about protein.

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Disclosure

Please note, the information contained in these articles is informational and educational, and of a general nature. Nothing on this website should be taken as, or substitute for medical or professional advice. For specific dietary recommendations, a consultation can be made and a tailored plan will be designed to suit your particular circumstances.

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10 Comments

    1. Hi Danni
      Yes it is interesting all the different places protein in its various forms can be found. Thank you for for leaving a comment, it’s lovely to hear from you.
      Julie

    1. Hi Dina & Bruce
      Thank you for messaging, yes I think it is a good idea to have in the back of your mind the protein you should be reaching each day. It’s also noce to ensure it is spread across the day fairly evenly. Meal prepping is a great way to make this easier.
      Lovely to hear from you both.
      Julie xx

    1. Hi Ali
      Thank you for you message, Protein is super important, the building blocks of life so it is good to know how much you need each dya. I am so pleased I could help.
      Happy eating.
      Julie xx

    1. Hi Kechi
      Thank you for your kind message, I am so pleaed it was useful to you :). Hopefully you can find your favourite source of protein and top up 🙂
      Happy healthy snacking
      Julie

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