Q&A: How much protein do I need?

Q: My husband is a big protein advocate and says I don’t get enough. There are a lot of things like protein shakes and pre-workout supplements floating around the market. I’d love to know: How much is “enough”?
N.S., Newington

A: Adequate protein intake is associated with improvements in lean body mass, strength, balance and functional health, especially as we age. The amount of protein you need is based on several factors including: body weight, muscle mass, physical activity and age. 

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 0.4 grams of protein for each pound of body weight. Scientist estimate this should be enough for most people.

According to the RDA an adequate amount of protein for an adult weighing 165 pounds is 66 grams.

While the RDA for protein is currently the same for old and young adults, studies suggest it should be raised to 0.5 to 0.7 grams per pound of body weight for older people to support lean muscle mass as we age (1, 2)

For athletes, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 0.5 to 0.6 grams of protein for each pound of body weight, which should be enough for muscle maintenance and training recovery (3). However, scientists don’t agree how much is enough. The International Society of Sports Nutrition’s daily recommendation is 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight for athletes (4).

If you are concerned that you might not be getting enough protein I encourage you to schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian who will complete a detailed nutrition assessment determine the amount of protein you need and create a personalized meal plan to support your wellness goals.

Be well.

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