How Much Protein Do I Need?
Protein is a crucial part of every diet, but how much protein is the right amount? Understanding how much protein your body needs to survive depends on various factors, including your goals, current weight, and how physically demanding your lifestyle is. Plus, there are dozens of different protein styles to consider — how do you know which one is best? We’ll give you a breakdown of protein types, fast versus sustained-release protein, and what functional foods are so you can make the best nutrition choices for your body.
What is Protein?
The first step to understanding how much protein your body needs is to understand what protein is. Protein is a type of macronutrient that provides energy and is a critical component in building muscle.
Macronutrients come in three types:
These nutrients are macronutrients because of the high amount required for your body to stay healthy and thriving. Your body contains roughly 15 percent protein, and the nutrient is responsible for creating and maintaining lean muscle, powering your everyday activities, and sustaining your metabolism.
Types of Protein
When it comes to maintaining your protein intake, there are two types of protein to consider: animal or plant-based. Plant proteins include pea, chickpea, soy, brown rice, and others, while animal proteins include casein and whey protein, egg, chicken, beef, and more. The main difference between the two types of proteins is their amino acid makeup. Animal proteins are complete proteins and contain all of the essential amino acids (EAAs).
Plant proteins, on the other hand, are incomplete proteins because they are missing at least one EAA. However, vegetarians can combine a selection of plant proteins to obtain the full group of essential amino acids they need. Plant proteins are also a fantastic choice for vegans, lactose intolerant, or anyone who wants to reduce the number of animal by-products they eat.
How Much Protein Should I Eat?
The amount of recommended protein for your body depends on your gender, weight, and activity level. According to the Dietary Reference Intake, the average sedentary person should consume a minimum of .36 grams of protein for each pound of body weight. Therefore, athletes and people who work out regularly should consume much higher amounts of protein to appropriately fuel their workouts and growth. There are also fast versus sustained-release proteins, which can help fuel your muscles during a workout or overnight to assist in recovery.
How to Increase Protein You Intake
Functional foods help support your body in multiple ways beyond providing essential nutrition. Many people believe that eating functional foods such as oatmeal, orange juice, and honey can increase your wellness while also reducing your risk of certain diseases. However, experts note that eating functional foods cannot replace poor eating habits.
Incorporating a whey protein supplement into your diet is a fantastic way to increase your overall protein intake. Whey protein is available in various flavors and is a wonderful way to increase your energy before, during, and after a workout. While whey protein features a quick release for immediate energy, casein is a sustained release formula that releases over time to provide long-term support for your muscles. When calculating how much protein to consume, consider whether you need a sustained release or fast release protein.