It is recommended that out of the total energy intake, 15 to 25% energy should be from protein sources.
Out of the three macronutrients, the fats, the carbohydrates and the proteins, we talk very little about the importance of protein and its daily requirement for the body. Protein is an important building block of a healthy diet. It is present in every cell in the body and performs the important function of building and maintaining muscles and bones. It also keeps the cells in a good working condition. If there is a lack of protein in the body, this may invite trouble in the sense that breakdown of the existing muscles will happen at a faster rate as compared to the formation of the new ones, resulting into malfunctioning of the body organs. However, most Americans, unknowingly, meet or even exceed the recommended amount of protein per day. When it comes to ideal protein requirement of the body, it varies from individual to individual. A lot of it has to do with the kind of lifestyle a person is leading i.e. active or sedentary. It also depends on the kind of fitness goals people have like they want to lose weight, build muscles or gain weight, etc.
Daily Requirement of Protein for...
...Men and Women
Although the daily required amount of protein depends on several factors like age, gender, weight, activity level, etc., there is a standardized method used by the nutritionists to calculate the minimum daily protein requirement. The body weight in kilograms when multiplied by 0.8 (it is the amount of protein required per kilogram) or the weight in pounds multiplied by 0.37 will give the amount of protein (in grams) to be consumed daily. To take an example, if the weight of a person is 60 kg, then his recommended protein intake per day would be 60 kg × 0.8 g, which comes to 48 g per day. If a person lives a sedentary life, then this formula is the perfect way to arrive at the protein requirement, however, if the person is into exercising or weight training, then the recommended daily protein intake has to be increased and it is dealt with, in the next section.
For all those who are heavily into exercising, it is recommended that the protein intake can be increased to anywhere between 1.2 to 1.8 g per kg of body weight per day. Researches have shown that engaging in strenuous workout routines leads to breaking down of the muscle proteins. So to compensate that, athletes need to increase their protein intake. However, it's a myth that to build muscles, one needs to eat more than the double of the recommended protein intake. Ideally, protein intake should never exceed 1.8 g per kg per day even for those who are heavily into weight training.
It is extremely important to consume sufficient protein throughout the pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimester when the baby is growing really faster. The recommended amount of protein for pregnant women is 70 g per day, which is 20-25 g more than the recommended amount for other women. Usually American women easily meet the required amount of protein and hence do not have to take the trouble to manage it during the pregnancy if they are following a balanced diet.
...People on a Weight Loss Diet
It is often seen that people who want to lose weight are often recommended a high-protein diet. The main reason behind this being that protein rich foods make the person feel full for a very long time and they are very less in calories compared to the foods rich in carbohydrate and fats. However, even when on a high-protein diet, care should be taken to keep the grams of protein to lose weight within 1.8 per kilogram of the body mass, per day.
It is important to observe the method and time of protein consumption in case of bodybuilders because it has good effects on their ability to retain and use the protein. Small frequent protein meals taken before and after the workout has shown better results in decreasing protein breakdown while increasing protein synthesis. The formula to calculate the per day protein intake for bodybuilders is Lean mass weight (kg) × 2.75 = Daily protein requirement. A person, for example, if weighs 80 kg, the recommended amount of protein is around 220 g/day.
Even children, like adults, usually consume more than the required amount of protein, but only if they are given a balanced diet. Furthermore even the children having a vegetarian diet will meet the recommended amount of protein per day, hence parents need not take trouble to modify the diet for their child. However, it is important to know the amount of protein that should be consumed daily and plan the diet accordingly to maintain the consistency in protein intake. Take a look at the following age groups of children and the amount of protein they should consume on a daily basis:
- Up to 12 months: 13-14 g/day
- 1 to 3 years: 16 g/day
- 4 to 6 years: 24 g/day
- 9 to 10 years: 28 g/day
Food Items Rich in Proteins
In order to fulfill the daily protein requirement of the body, foods which are considered to be good sources of protein should be included in the diet. Some of the high-protein food items are:
- Egg white
Besides these natural sources of protein, there are various types of protein supplements available in the form of bars, shakes and powder, which work equally well in fulfilling the protein requirement of the body, especially for people who are into weight training.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.