Protein are essential building blocks for our body. It does not matter whether you are young or old, male or female, an athlete or not an athlete, having sufficient protein in your diet has many benefits on your health and your performance.

But how much protein do you need? Do you need more protein as a (strength) athlete? In this article we discuss what you need to take into account regarding your protein intake.

How much protein per day?

The general guidelines and recommended daily intake of protein are:

  • Non-athletes: 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram  of body weight.
  • Endurance athletes: 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight
  • Strength athletes: 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight

The average minimal amount of protein for healthy people is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Exactly how much protein someone needs however, differs greatly and depends on many different factors such as weight, age, gender, body composition and other lifestyle factors.

For example, vegetarians and vegans probably need a little more protein (especially strength athletes), and also sick and injured people, pregnant and breast feeding women, older people and children (because of the growth) could possibly benefit from a slightly higher protein intake.

People who exercise regularly have a higher protein requirement, but again there are many different circumstances that influence the recommended protein intake.

For example, advanced strength athletes need less protein than beginners because the body breaks down less protein over time and becomes more efficient at building new muscle.

Protein and muscle growth

Muscles and many other cells in the body are made from protein (amino acids) and the body needs new protein to restore the damage that occurs from heavy training

Many athletes therefore are under the assumption that eating more protein is better and will enhance protein synthesis and cause more muscle growth.

However there is no evidence that a protein intake of more than 1.8 grams per/kg of body weight is better for building muscle or maintaining muscle during weight loss.

Our body pre-determines how much muscle can be built and will not build up more protein if you eat more (unless you are using anabolic steroids).

Protein and health

To date, there is no clear indication that more protein could be harmful for healthy people. Only when you have kidney problems, you should watch your daily protein intake.

Eating more than 2.5-3.3 grams of protein per/kg of bodyweight is still considered a safe amount. But, as we have mentioned, it makes no sense to eat more protein than necessary, because your body simply won't make use of it.

Protein-rich foods

Proteins can be found in animal products such as meat, fish. egg and dairy, but there are also a lot of excellent plant-based sources of protein such as soy (-products), pulses, nuts, seeds, grains and plant-based protein powders.

Conclusion

Proteins (amino acids) are the building blocks of our body and it is therefore important to eat enough protein. How much protein your body needs really varies per person and depends on many different factors.

Eating more protein is not always better and even when you are trying to build more muscle than eating more protein will not result in more muscle growth.

The optimal daily amount of protein for most people is somewhere between 1.0 gram and 1.8 gram protein per kilogram of body weight per day eaten throughout the day.

When you are trying to build muscle or do a lot of strength training, than it is better to increase your protein intake to about 1.6-2.0 grams of protein per kg.

Also, if you are trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to eat more protein to prevent muscle loss whilst dieting.

Eating more protein can also increase satiety and reduce hunger when you are on a diet. This is not necessary, but it can certainly help with your weight loss process.

Determine your daily protein intake and get your protein from good "whole-foods" like pea protein, beans, lentils, soy, whole grains, nuts and seeds and a bit of low fat dairy, eggs, lean meat and wild caught fish.

Make sure that the rest of your daily calories consist of some healthy fats and sufficiently complex carbohydrates and you will be guaranteed to see results!