Proteins are the building blocks of the body. This important food type is largely obtained from animal products; beef, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk. Plant proteins include legumes and nuts. Protein supplements are particularly a hit in the fitness industry. Bodybuilders will go a long way to get more proteins into their system including taking raw eggs. But how much protein does one really need in a day?
Dietary Reference Intake
Health experts say that you need about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of your body weight or roughly 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (Pendick, 2018). For the average sedentary man this is 55-60 grams of protein while for the average sedentary woman, it would be 45-60 grams of proteins.
The level of protein intake is determined by a number of factors;
• Age – Children need protein in relatively higher proportions as their bodies are developing. Elderly people also need higher protein intake to counter a loss of muscle and lowering bone density.
• Sex – Males need higher protein than females because they have more muscle mass
• Activity level – More active people including sportsmen and bodybuilders require protein to build and repair muscle
Activity level is the best pointer to protein intake.
• Strength training requires at least 2 grams per pound of body weight
• Endurance training requires 0.5-0.6 grams per pound of body weight
Why you need protein
Proteins provide the building blocks for making muscle, tendons, skin and all organs. Proteins are also used in making hormones, enzymes, and nerves. The body needs proteins to keep repairing worn-out tissue and muscle. This is why more physically active people need a protein-rich diet maintain and build their muscle mass.
Proteins are made of small compounds called amino acids. These compounds form into strings and shapes to make protein blocks. There are two types of amino acids; essential amino acids have to be taken in as the body cannot produce them on its own. Non-essential amino acids can be made in a healthy body.
Insufficient intake of proteins can lead to wasting away of muscle as is usually seen in people who have been starving. The body gets into a condition known as ketosis where it starts feeding on its muscle mass. Protein deficiency also leads to slow healing from physical injuries since the damaged tissue is not replaced as fast as it should.
Animal protein sources like beef, poultry, fish, and eggs are recommended by health experts as they contain all essential amino acids. Legumes and nuts are the best sources of plant proteins. While protein intake should be prioritized, a well-balanced diet is recommended.
Pendick, D. (2018, January 8). How much protein do you need every day? – Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096