How Much Protein Is the Right Amount for You?
by Autumn Jones
If you've recently started working out, or are taking a closer look at your diet, you may be wondering, "Am I getting enough protein?"
Everything you put in your body has an effect on how you feel and function. Understanding how to fuel your body properly is an essential part of an active lifestyle, and being clear on how much protein you should eat every day is a smart place to start. The amount varies from person to person, but once you know how much protein is right for you, you can enjoy a more balanced diet — and increased energy.
How Much Protein Should You Eat Every Day?
Your body relies on protein to check off a lot of boxes for good health. According to Healthline, protein is responsible for making muscles, enzymes, hormones, and essential amino acids. Because of the important role protein plays in maintaining healthy bodies, it's considered the foundation of a well-rounded diet.
Fortunately, when it comes to consuming protein — you have some flexibility. There is a range of protein intake that's acceptable for most healthy people. As a general rule, anywhere between 10 to 35 percent of your total calorie intake should come from protein, according to Mayo Clinic.
If you'd like to determine exactly where you fall in this range, there are some factors to consider. To simplify the process of finding your perfect protein intake, try this online calculator that generates how much protein you need based on your gender, age, height, weight, goals, and activity level.
Fuel for Your Body
Having a guideline for daily protein consumption is the basis for good nutrition, but you also need to be sure you're eating the type of protein that supports your health goals. As Harvard Health suggests, "Aim for protein sources low in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates, and rich in many nutrients."
Strive for a well-rounded intake that includes complete proteins such as meat, fish, dairy, and eggs as well as plant-based proteins like nuts, veggies, and whole grains. When you can, always choose natural sources of protein over supplements.
Additionally, the amount of protein you eat should be balanced throughout your day. According to Business Insider, eating protein first thing in the morning is a great way to fuel yourself for the hours to come. However, it's a good idea to avoid heavy proteins as the clock ticks toward bedtime, since they can be more difficult to digest.
On the days you exercise, it's a good idea to chow down on a moderate amount of lean protein before hitting the gym (but not immediately before, as your body needs time to digest). If you consume the protein your body needs, you'll feel more energetic, balanced, and healthy — bringing you one step closer to conquering your goals!
As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.