This is another very common question when it comes to health and fitness ... and it goes hand-in-hand with our recent talk about how many calories you should be eating.
In fact ... you could say that your calorie intake and protein intake are the two most important parts of your diet.
Especially if you have goals of burning fat, building muscle, or a combination of both ... which is just about everyone.
So, what makes protein so special and how much should you be eating?
Let's take a look.
What is Protein?
When you understand what protein is and what it does for your body ... you'll easily be able to see why it's so important for your health and fitness.
Protein is an essential macronutrient ... meaning it's a large nutrient that must be taken in through your diet.
You've probably heard of amino acids before, and that's what protein is made of. It's a collection of 20 different amino acids linked together.
Your body will make 11 of those amino acids naturally ... and the other 9 you need to take in through your diet. These are called Essential Amino Acids.
Regardless of if you have a fitness goal or not ... eating enough protein is very important.
You may only think of protein when it comes to fitness, but protein actually fuels countless amounts of bodily functions ... and even plays a large role in carrying oxygen in your blood.
It's one of the most important parts of a healthy diet ... and is even referred to as the "building block of life."
Some of the most common protein sources include:
- Animal Products (meats, fish, milk, and eggs)
- Protein is also found in soy, beans, legumes, nut butters, and some grains ... but these foods will not provide nearly as much protein per serving as animal products.
Protein and Your Fitness Goals
It's safe to say that you've been told to eat more protein if you have a specific fitness goal ... but why?
Why does every fitness professional tell you to increase your protein intake?
Building Muscle - You know now that protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are what your body uses to build and repair your muscles. Without taking in enough of these amino acids ... your muscles will not have what they need to repair, grow, and get stronger. It's that simple.
Burning Fat - Because protein is a large nutrient, it takes a lot of energy for your body to break it down and digest it. This means you're burning extra calories just from digesting protein itself. Burning more calories will translate to you losing more body fat ... all because you're eating more protein.
You might think eating more protein makes you "big and bulky" ... but there's plenty of research to show that it's actually the exact opposite. (2)
Now, if you have goals of both building muscle and burning fat ... a high protein diet will be even more necessary.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The answer you've been waiting for...
..and like most things health and fitness related, the answer depends.
Understand here that the amount of protein you need to survive ... and the amount of protein you need to see results is going to be different.
Most general protein recommendations you'll see online are referring to the amount you need to avoid deficiencies ... not the amount you need to help you build muscle and burn fat.
If you want a general recommendation on the minimum amount of protein you should have each day ... just take your current body weight and multiply it by 0.8.
It's that number, in grams, that would be what you need to avoid any protein deficiencies. (2)
When you have a specific fitness goal, that number is going to be far too low to see the best results. (2)
You'd want to take your body weight and multiple it by 1 ... that's going to be much better for burning fat and building muscle.
So, if you weigh 150 pounds ... shoot for 150 grams of protein per day.
If you're someone who has a little more weight to lose, you can base this calculation off your goal body weight.
If you're a bigger, more muscular, and very active person ... you can go as far as taking your body weight and multiplying it by 1.2. That would be the upper range of protein intake for most people ... but perfectly safe to do so.
How Much Protein Is Too Much?
"Too much protein is bad for your kidneys" .... one of the more common fitness myths out there. It's actually a myth that started circulating over 50 years ago.
You'll be happy to hear that this has been proven to be 100% false, time and time again.
There's been countless studies done on this, and there's ZERO evidence linking a high-protein diet to kidney disease ... or any health issues for that matter. (1)
When it comes to your health and safety ... there's really no amount of protein that's "too much". You physically wouldn't be able to eat an amount that would be considered too much.
With that being said ... we still suggest using the methods above to determine the proper amount of protein you need.
Your protein intake plays a huge role in your overall health and wellness. A high protein diet is also necessary if you have goals of burning fat, building muscle, or a combination of both.
Figuring out how much protein you need to eat is simple, and can be found using your body weight.
Don't pay attention to any protein myths you may hear ... because they've all been proven to be false.
Now ... we know that eating enough protein can be a struggle, and that's something we're more than happy to help you with.
If you stop by your nearest S2 location ... we'll make sure you're getting the amount of protein you need to see the best possible results.
1. Michaela C Devries, Arjun Sithamparapillai, K Scott Brimble, Laura Banfield, Robert W Morton, Stuart M Phillips, Changes in Kidney Function Do Not Differ between Healthy Adults Consuming Higher- Compared with Lower- or Normal-Protein Diets: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 148, Issue 11, November 2018, Pages 1760–1775,
2. Moon J, Koh G. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2020 Sep 30;29(3):166-173. doi: 10.7570/jomes20028. PMID: 32699189; PMCID: PMC7539343.
*This article was written by Andrew Lynn, who has a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. He is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.