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How much protein do you really need?

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on June 27, 2016

How much protein do you really need?

The answer to every fitness related question is always “it depends”. That’s often why you come across conflicting information. You might have seen recommendations ranging from very low intakes of protein to very high intakes of protein, but what is best is in fact dependent on your goals. For an average person a low protein intake is sufficient, but for somebody looking to maximise his or her health a more moderate intake is much better.

Is your goal to just survive?

If your goal is purely to survive and fight off malnutrition it is recommended to follow the RDA intake for protein, which is 0.8g per kg of bodyweight. For those that don’t know RDA is the recommended daily allowance. These are the minimum recommendations for general health and bodily functions. This RDA amount is often misinterpreted by people as what should be followed, whereas in fact it is the minimum amount for basic survival only.

For example, a 60kg woman would need 48grams of protein per day, which is quite low.

Is your goal to maximise your health?

However, if your goal is to be as healthy as possible, build muscle, lose body fat and maximise your performance and energy expenditure than you will need more than this RDA. It is not as high as many people are recommending, but recent studies have shown that intakes from 1.7g -2.7g per kg of bodyweight to be the best range to be in. Above this range offers no additional benefit and actually can have negative effects psychologically and performance-wise if carbohydrates and fats are kept too low along with a high protein diet.

The 60kg woman example here would need 102g-162g of protein per day, which shows a moderate amount (102g) to a moderately high amount (162g)

 Now that we have a range here to work with, you must decide where in this range is best for you. The simple answer is if you are a person that struggles with their body fat and weight gain it would work better for you sticking to the higher end of the range above for some reasons outlined below. If you are a person that has an easier time keeping their body fat in check then you can stick to the lower end of the range.

People new to health and fitness often ask me why a lot of my recipes are higher in protein than traditional desserts. Here are a few of the reasons:

  • For repair and rebuilding purposes from exercising.
  • They are diet friendly and healthier than traditional desserts as well as being lower in calories.
  • Higher protein increases satiety (feeling full) and is more satisfying.
  • Higher protein and lower sugar often creates a better sense of well being
  • I can replace sugar with a sweetener like Natvia to also keep calories down.
  • The thermic effect of protein compared to fats and carbs is a lot higher and specifically for protein is around 30%. This means 30% of the protein calories you consume are actually burnt up during digestion!
  • It can satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthier way.



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