Protein is an essential part of everyone’s diet. It is needed by every cell in your body and is especially necessary for those who work out to repair and rebuild muscle tissue.
It also is very important for us as we age to avoid the loss of muscle tissue causing a reduction in a person’s metabolic rate. The question of how much protein a person should take in is highly debated, however.
Here are some of the different takes on how much protein you should get:
- The FDA says that a person should take in approximately 50 grams of protein per day.
- The American Council on Exercise says that you should multiply your weight in pounds by between .36 and .45 to get the proper number of grams of protein (for me that would be between 67 and 83 grams of protein).
- Another method believes that you should get one gram of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight (this would require 84 grams for me).
- Many common nutrition approaches believe that 30 percent of a person’s calorie intake should come from protein. Based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, that would be 150 grams of protein.
- Fitness enthusiasts often try to get one gram of protein per pound of body weight (meaning I would need 185 grams per day).
- Bodybuilders go so far as to look for two or more grams per pound of body weight (whoa, 370 plus grams per day).
Confused as to what you should be doing yet? As a trainer I usually tell people to try to get about 100 grams of protein per day unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise. This ensures that if they don’t get as much as they think they are getting, which is common, they still get their minimum amount. However, each individual is unique and many people believe they do better with higher protein intakes.
One important thing about getting enough protein is preventing taking in too many fats and sugars. Since most calories come from carbohydrates, protein and fat, taking in too low of a percentage of calories from protein means that the percentages of calories from carbohydrates (often sugar) and fats must rise. This can often lead to weight gain or the inability to lose weight.
And it isn’t just about how much protein you take in but where you get those proteins. Often animal proteins contain high amounts of fats and saturated fats.
Here are some good sources of protein:
- White chicken and turkey
- Lean cuts of beef and pork
- Egg whites
- Low fat dairy products
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts and seeds
- Protein drinks
These are just a sample of ways to get protein without getting a high amount of fat or sugar. What is important is that you make sure you are getting enough protein to allow your body to function properly and efficiently.
Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of the Los Alamos Fitness Center. Direct questions about the information in this column to him at 505.662.5232.