U.S. News & World Report: How Much Protein Do I Need?
By Ruben Castaneda and K. Aleisha Fetters
Whether you're trying to lose weight, gain muscle or stay strong and healthy as you age, protein is vital.
Protein is one of three macronutrients – along with carbohydrates and fat – that your body needs to build and repair tissue, form muscle and transport nutrients, says Erin Coates, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic Wellness. Together, these macronutrients are amino acids, which comprise "the building blocks of our body's cells," Coates says.
Registered dietitian Lora Edwards agrees, adding that protein is essential not just for our muscles, but also to develop and maintain healthy bones, skin and hair. She's a senior clinical nutrition specialist at the Sports Medicine Center at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. "It's also vital for our immunity and even makes up the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood," Edwards says.
In 2015, a comprehensive review in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism concluded that consuming 25 to 35 grams of protein per meal was sufficient for most adults. However, some people, especially those trying to lose weight or gain muscle, as well as older adults, likely need more protein.
The importance of getting enough protein is clear. But how much protein is enough versus too much? The current recommended daily allowance for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of an individual's body mass (or 0.36 grams per pound of body weight).
To determine an individual's ideal protein intake, the efficiency at which the body uses protein is an important consideration. Why? When it comes to absorbing and using protein to build tissue, muscle cells don't operate like an on/off switch. Instead, they act more like a dimmer, where, at a certain point, they gradually become less efficient at using each amino acid to build muscle tissue.
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