Are You Consuming Too Much Protein, or Not Enough? Here’s How to Find Out

Registered Dietician

| 3 min read

Grilled Meat
Protein is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. It is one of the three macronutrients that make up the energy source and calories of food, the other two being carbohydrates and fat. Do you know how much protein you should be consuming?
Most Americans actually get too much protein, mostly because we are overconsuming calories in general, and also due to popular fad diets such as the Atkins diet or Ketogenic Diet (and don’t get me started on fad diets). Younger females and senior citizens are two demographic groups that often don’t get enough protein. Sometimes due to lack of consumption of calories and for seniors sometimes because various meats are tough for them to chew.

How Much Protein Should You Consume?

When calculating protein needs, remember that this is usually a very individual and case-by-case calculation that should be discussed with your doctor and dietitian based on health goals and medical history.
For some generalized insight, there are a couple of ways you can calculate how much protein you should have daily. One quick way to calculate the grams of protein you should have in a daily is to have .8 grams of protein for every kilogram of your body weight. To help you, know that 1 pound = 0.45 kilograms (kg).
For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, multiply 160 by .45 to get 72 kg. Then multiply that by 0.8 to get 57.6 grams of protein daily.
Another way to calculate how much protein you should have is by calculating how many calories you should consume in a day. This is a more complicated process and can be confusing. If you calculate your BMR, or basal metabolic rate with your activity level, and decide whether you want to maintain, lose or gain weight, you can then figure out how many calories you should consume in a day. From there, calculating your protein needs can vary slightly.
In general, I recommend that 10 to 25 percent of your calories should come from protein. This will vary per person depending on your general health, nutrient needs, age, activity level and other factors.
For example, if you figure out that you should consume 1,600 calories per day, then you should multiply 1,600 by .10 (10 percent) to determine you need to get 160 calories from protein. And because 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, dividing 160 by 4 will tell you you need 40 grams of protein daily.
If you want to calculate the higher end with 25 percent of calories from protein, you would do the same thing:
1600 x .25 = 400/4 = 100 grams of protein daily.
So for this example, this person should consume between 40 and 100 grams of protein daily.
Sorry if I have confused you. In the end, it is best to see a registered dietitian to help you calculate the best meal plan for you based on your specific individual needs.
Did you calculate how much protein you should be having? Were you having too much or too little?
Photo Credit: ayngelina

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