What is the optimal amount of protein to consume per day?

Few nutrients are as important as proteins. If you don’t have enough, your health and body composition will suffer. However, opinions on the amount of protein you need vary. Most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake. We are talking about 0.8 grams per kg of body weight.

This represents 54 grams per day for a sedentary person weighing 70 kg or 65 grams per day for a sedentary person weighing 80 kg. This may be enough to avoid deficiencies, but the amount you need depends on many factors, including your activity level, age, muscle mass, physical goals, and overall health. This article examines the optimal amounts of protein and how lifestyle factors such as weight loss, muscle building and activity level come into play.

What are proteins and why are they important?

Protein is the main building block of your body. They are used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various molecules that perform many important functions. Proteins are made up of small molecules called amino acids, which fit together like beads on a string. These linked amino acids form long protein chains, which then fold into complex shapes. Your body produces some of these amino acids, but you need to get others, called essential amino acids, through your diet. Protein is not just a question of quantity, but also of quality. In general, animal proteins provide all essential amino acids in the right ratio to make the most of them. This makes sense, because animal tissues are similar to your own tissues. If you eat animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products every day, you are probably getting enough protein. However, if you don’t eat animal foods, it may be more difficult to get all the essential proteins and amino acids your body needs. Few people need to supplement protein, but doing so can be beneficial for athletes and bodybuilders.

They can promote weight loss and prevent weight gain

Protein is important when it comes to losing weight. As you may know, you need to consume fewer calories than you spend to lose weight. There is evidence that eating protein can increase the number of calories burned by increasing the metabolic rate (calories consumed) and reducing appetite. Eating 25-30% of your total daily calories in the form of protein has been shown to increase metabolism by 80-100 calories per day, compared to low-protein diets. However, probably the most important contribution of protein to weight loss is its ability to reduce appetite, which leads to reduced calorie intake. Protein is more effective than fat or carbohydrates in maintaining the feeling of fullness.
In a study of obese men, consuming 25% of calories from protein increased feelings of satiety and reduced nighttime cravings and obsessive thoughts about food by 50% and 60%, respectively. In another 12-week study, women who increased their protein intake to 30 percent of their calories ate 441 fewer calories per day and lost 5kg simply by adding more protein to their diets. Additionally, protein not only promotes weight loss, it can also prevent weight gain.

A high protein intake also helps you build and maintain muscle mass, which burns a small number of calories around the clock. Eating more protein makes it much easier to follow a weight loss diet, both high-carb, low-carb. carbohydrate or intermediate content. According to the studies cited earlier, a protein intake of around 30% of calories may be optimal for weight loss. This equates to 150 grams per day for those on a 2,000-calorie diet. You can calculate this by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.

It can help you gain muscle mass and strength

Muscles are largely made up of proteins. Like most tissues in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly breaking and rebuilding. To gain muscle mass, your body must synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down. In other words, your body must have a positive net protein balance, often referred to as nitrogen balance, because proteins are rich in nitrogen.
So people who want to build muscle often consume more protein and exercise. An increased protein intake can help build muscle and strength. At the same time, those who want to maintain the muscles they have built may need to increase their protein intake as they lose body fat, as a high protein intake can help prevent the muscle loss that usually occurs during a diet. When it comes to muscle mass, studies typically don’t consider the percentage of calories from protein, but rather the daily grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. A common recommendation for muscle gain is 2.2 grams per kg of body weight.

Many studies have attempted to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle building, but many have come to different conclusions. Some studies show that consuming more than 1.8 grams per kg has no benefit, while others indicate that intakes slightly above 2.2 grams per kg are best.

Although it is difficult to give exact figures due to the conflicting results of the studies, around 1.6-2.2 grams per kg of body weight appears to be a reasonable estimate. If you have a lot of body fat, it is better to use lean body mass or target weight rather than total body weight, because lean body mass primarily determines how much protein you need.

proteins during pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body needs more protein for tissue development and growth. Protein benefits both mother and baby. One study authors suggest consuming 1.2 to 1.52 grams per kg of protein per day during pregnancy. Elsewhere, experts recommend consuming an extra 1.1 grams per kg of protein per day during pregnancy. The recommended daily protein intake while breastfeeding is 1.3 grams per kg per day, plus another 25 grams.

Food sources are the ideal way to get any nutrient. Good sources include:

beans, peas and lentils
low-fat meat
dairy products
Nuts and seeds

Fish and seafood are also good sources. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, choose fish that are low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies. However, be sure to avoid those that may be high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

Other circumstances that can increase the protein requirement

Regardless of muscle mass and physical goals, physically active people need more protein than sedentary people. If your job is physically demanding or if you walk, run, swim or do any type of exercise, you need to eat more protein. Endurance athletes also need significant amounts of protein, around 1.2-1.4 grams per kg of body weight. Older people also have a much higher protein requirement, up to 50% more, about 1-1.3 grams per kg of body weight.
It can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia, which are two major problems in older people. People recovering from injury may also need more protein

Does protein have negative health effects?

Protein has been wrongly blamed for a number of health problems. Some people believe that a high-protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis, but science doesn’t support these claims. Although protein restriction is helpful for people with pre-existing kidney problems, there is no evidence that protein can cause kidney damage in healthy people. In fact, a higher protein intake can lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease.
The alleged harmful effects of proteins on kidney function are offset by their positive effects on these risk factors. Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to optimize their health.

How to get enough protein in your diet

The best sources of protein are meat, fish, eggs and dairy products because they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs. Some vegetables are also quite high in protein, such as quinoa, legumes and nuts. However, most people generally don’t need to monitor their protein intake. If you are healthy and trying to stay healthy, consuming quality protein sources alone in most of your meals, along with nutritious plant foods, should get you to optimal levels.

What “grams of protein” really means.

This is a very frequent source of misunderstanding. In nutritional science, “grams of protein” refers to the number of grams of the macronutrient protein, not the number of grams of a protein-containing food such as meat or eggs. A serving of beef that weighs 220 grams contains only 61 grams of protein. Similarly, a large egg weighs 46 grams but only contains 6 grams of protein.

What about the average person?

If you are of normal weight, don’t lift weights, and don’t exercise a lot, an amount between 0.8 and 1.3 grams per kg is a reasonable estimate.

It is equivalent to:

56-91 grams per day for the average man
46-75 grams per day for an average woman.

* Presse Santé is committed to transmitting medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT can the information provided replace the opinion of the doctor.

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