Nutrition is an inherently controversial thing, and in few areas is this truer than when it comes to the subject of protein. Some find they feel best on a high-protein diet of mostly lean meats, while others feel great on a more balanced diet higher in carbs and fats. Both sides often insist that their ways are correct and that everyone else will benefit from following suit, but what exactly does the science say? Read on to learn more about how much protein you really need based on several factors.
Our protein needs vary at different stages of life, with children and teenagers requiring greater amounts in order to support the development of new tissue during growth spurts. As we age, our protein requirements decrease slightly, and studies suggest that adults between the ages of 19 and 70 should aim to eat about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram, or .36 grams per pound, of body weight each day. Children may need as much as 1.08 grams per kilo, though you should always consult with your child’s pediatrician about how best to meet their nutritional needs.
On average, men tend to have more muscle mass than women, and while this may mean greater protein needs on an individual level, the recommended ratio of 0.8 grams per kilo still applies. Research shows that differences in protein requirements based on gender are negligible; factors such as activity level and muscle mass are more accurate indicators of how much protein a person should consume.
Athletes and people who engage in regular intense workouts typically require more protein than average in order to provide muscles with the amino acids necessary for growth and repair. The most recent recommendations suggest that those with active lifestyles looking to increase muscle mass should up their protein intake from 0.8 to 1.2-1.5 grams of protein per kilo of body weight daily.