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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

Have you ever thought about how much protein you are supposed to get each day? The answer to that question is not as black and white as you may think.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is set at 0.8 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight. In order to figure out your weight in kg, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. So if you weigh 150 pounds (68.2 kg), you need about 55 grams of protein. You can also use 0.36 grams per pound of body weight if you don't want to convert to kg.

The RDA is set at a level of what you need to prevent deficiency. But many researchers believe that we actually need more than that for reasons of muscle building and for optimal satiety (to keep us full).

Here are some other recommendations:
Pregnancy/lactation: 1.1 g per kg body weight (0r 0.5 grams per pound). You can use pre-pregnancy weight for the calculation. The point is you need significantly more protein when pregnant. Add 25 grams more per day if you are carrying multiples. This extra protein is especially important in the second half and third trimester. You can also use 0.55 grams per pound body weight to calculate.
Endurance athletes: 1.2-1.4 g per kg body weight (or 0.55-0.65 grams per pound). Endurance athletes often think of carbs, carbs, carbs, and they ignore protein. But you are using your muscles quite a bit and need extra protein to repair them. Endurance athletes would be runners, bikers, long distance swimming, etc.
Strength athletes: 1.6-1.7 g per kg body weight (or 0.73-0.77 grams per pound). Strength athletes are pushing their muscles to the extreme and need more protein to build and repair those muscles. But don't skimp on carbs because your body will break down protein for energy if you don't get enough carbs. Strength athletes are people who do a signficant amount of strength training and may lift very heavy weights.

An upper limit of protein has not really been established, but many researchers believe that the body cannot use much more than 1 gram of protein per pound body weight.

Tune in tomorrow for more on protein and how much you eat may affect satiety (staying full) and what the right amount may be for weight loss.
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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