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Daily Protein Intake: How Much Protein Do You REALLY Need?

Updated: Feb 19

DietMD Daily Protein Intake

If you look around the internet for health, fitness, and nutrition tips, you’ll find that people like to talk about the importance of protein and how much protein you should be consuming each day. But how much protein do you REALLY need?

There are some myths about protein circulating today that we often hear from our DietMD® patients. Knowing your ideal protein intake, and ensuring you're reaching it, can be key to your health.




Daily Protein Intake: Athletes, Weightlifters, and Extremely Active Individuals

The general guidelines for the upper limit of beneficial protein intake for these individuals are approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight (or current body weight). ‘


Ideal Body Weight for Men: 106 + 6 (Height in inches - 60 in)


Ideal Body Weight for Women: 100 + 5 (Height in inches - 60 in)


For example:

A 6-foot-tall male’s ideal body weight is 106 + 6(72-60) or about 178 lbs. This means that the upper limit protein target should be around 178 grams daily.

Does that mean you NEED to eat 178 grams of protein daily? NO. 


What if I'm a 6-foot-tall male that weighs 200 lbs? Is it okay to have a target of 200 grams of protein daily even though I'm above my ideal body weight? Sure. You can use either your current body weight or ideal body weight to calculate your protein target. 


If you're a very active adult, do you absolutely need to target 1 gram of protein per pound? NO. You’ll likely recover from activity and build muscle efficiently at lower levels of protein intake. 


Daily Protein Intake: Minimum Protein for Sedentary Individuals

The recommended protein intake for an adult with limited to no physical activity is

.8 g protein per kg of body weight (pounds divided by 2.2)


So let's calculate the minimum protein intake for that same 6-foot-tall male weighing 178 lbs from the example above:

.8 grams (178/2.2)


He would need a MINIMUM of 65 grams of protein daily.


Daily Protein Intake: Can You Benefit From Even More Protein?

The satiety (fullness) benefit of protein tends to top out at around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This means that if you're an individual eating much lower levels of protein and not maintaining fullness throughout the day, you can gradually increase your protein intake towards this target. This will help you determine what amount of protein intake benefits you the most for either satiety and/or muscle growth and recovery. 


For example:

Let’s say you are trying to lose weight, and you're currently eating around 65 grams of protein daily. However, you notice that you have to eat very frequently because you constantly feel hungry.

You could increase your protein intake to around 120 grams daily. This may result in having to eat less often due to being full and satisfied. Eating less often could make it easier to eat less overall and make weight loss much easier.


Daily Protein Intake: Myths

  1. The more protein the better. Based on existing research, anything over 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is likely NOT beneficial.

  2. Protein intake and kidney function. Protein intake (even at the higher 1 gram per pound level) does NOT harm HEALTHY kidneys. 

  3. All protein is created equal. Not all proteins contain every essential amino acid, which is why vegans and vegetarians need to consume a balance of different proteins. Whey protein, eggs, chicken, beef, and fish are the most efficiently absorbed protein sources. Soy, quinoa, and buckwheat contain all 9 essential aminos, too.



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