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How Much Protein Should I Eat in a Day?

Apr 15, 2008
Hardcore weight trainers eat a ton of protein in a day. OK, they don't eat a 'ton, but just now much protein do they eat? How much protein do you eat? How much is appropriate? Can one have too much of it? If so, what are the drawbacks? The ultimate question is: how much protein should I eat in a day?

As with how much fat to eat in a day and how many carbs to eat in a day, it all depends on a couple factors:

* age
* body size
* diet
* activity level
* lifestyle

The recommended amount of protein for a healthy adult is 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight. A kilogram is roughly equal to 2.2 pounds. An exception to this rule is the recommended levels for pregnant women, which say that pregnant women should eat 10 grams more each day than the recommended amount. Lactating women require an additional 15 grams of protein during the first six months of nursing, and an additional 12 grams after that.

Males who participate in regular vigorous exercise typically will eat from 1 to 1.5 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This can be both positive and negative for the body. The additional protein will assist in muscle recovery and fat loss, but the effects of digesting the protein will place additional stress on the body.

Why Should I Limit My Protein Intake?

While protein is as vital to cellular metabolism as oxygen, there certainly lies a threshold for healthy and unhealthy consumption levels especially for those in poorer health. Processing protein requires a lot from kidneys and liver which is why those with problems with either of those organs are often ordered by their physicians to eat a lower protein diet.

An indirect drawback from excessive animal protein consumption is its effect on the cardiovascular system. Since many meats contain a fair amount of saturated fat, this can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, as well as obesity. For example, only 25% of a T-bone steak calories come from protein while the rest comes from saturated fat. Even a leaner cut of beef like a flank steak is still roughly 50% fat. The same holds true for eggs. Only 31% of egg calories come from protein. Fish and chicken are certainly better sources of protein.

Remember when eating a diet higher in protein to drink plenty of water in order to replenish the considerable amount lost during protein metabolism. Try and stay on the safe side by avoiding extreme high-protein diets full of saturated fats like the ketogenic diets (Atkins) just previously discussed and you will be in much better physical standing.

Do draw a simple conclusion, I recommend 1 gram of protein per lb of lean body mass for both males and females who exercise at least 3 times per week. A 200 lb man with 10% bodyfat would aim to consume about 180 grams of protein in a day. More importantly, keeping your unhealthy fat consumption and processed carbohydrate consumption low, will go a long way to preserve your health for the long haul.
About the Author
Steve Hanson has 10 years experience in the fields of exercise science and sports nutrition. He writes articles on all forms of athletic training and nutritional theories. View the blog to learn more about your favorite exercise and nutrition topics.

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