How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

June 26, 2012 · 30 comments

So how much protein do you really need? I get this question almost daily. First, It depends on your age, weight and level of activity.

The RDI (recommended daily intake) is .4 g per lb per day for a person who isn’t too active which I know is not you if you’re reading this. If you exercise regularly, are trying to lose weight or are an athlete, you need more!

  • If you consider yourself active, aim to consume .5-.7 grams per lb per day.
  • Trying to lose weight? Bump it up to .7-.8 g per lb per day. This means if you weigh 150 lbs, aim for 105-120 grams of protein a day.
  • Endurance or strength training athletes are encouraged to consume .7-1 g per lb per day.

To get an idea of how much protein our favorite foods have that is:

  • 4 oz chicken breast has 24 grams (110 calories)
  • 3 oz salmon has 17 grams (120 calories)
  • 2 eggs have 12 grams (160 calories)
  • 1 oz peanuts have 7 grams (160 calories)
  • 1 cup of black beans have 15 grams (227 calories)

Eating fish or meat at every meal gets pricey and eating enough beans or nuts to meet your daily protein needs can be very high in calories, not mention inconvenient if you are on the go.

Over the past couple of years, protein bars and shakes have crossed over into the mainstream market. No longer are they just for bodybuilders and girls in figure competitions. For me, it’s an easier and delicious way increase my protein intake at breakfast and for snacks to satisfy cravings, and feel full on less calories.

When I don’t have time to make my signature protein pancakes, I usually grab a shake on the go like Premier Protein shakes which have only 160 calories, 30 g of protein, 1 g of sugar and are low-fat. It’s great to throw in your gym bag and have after your morning workout and while you get ready in the gym locker room. It’s important to me to consume it within 20 minutes of finishing up so this is a must-have on hand, otherwise your potential gains will be diminished. Bars are good too for this is you like to chew rather than drink your meals.If I have time, I’ll throw the shake into a blender with some added spinach and ice cubes to make it a smoothie.

Dr Oz recommends eating 30 g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. I aim for at least 15g at breakfast either in a smoothie, protein pancake or protein bar. Bars are my go to when I travel.

Ever since I began increasing increase my protein intake at breakfast, I have noticed a significant reduction in munchies after dinner. I used to always be famished by the time dinner came around. I credit the bump up in grams to helping prevent cravings and the urge to mindlessly eat after supper.

Wanna learn more about protein? Check out my post from last week on What You Need To Know About Protein.

When do you need an extra energy boost?

I am hosting a contest through the end of August called “Energy for Every Day.” If you haven’t tried adding protein to your life, now is your chance. Winners will receive a gift pack worth $250 from Premier Protein, including a $200 cash prize to keep you active and on the go. Think of that running or camping gear you’ve needed, plus more fun swag! Three winners will be chosen at random in July, three winners will be chosen in August and four will be chosen in September.

To enter, all you need to do is share that moment when your energy crashes and you need that extra boost. Simply answer the following question on the YouTube video below in the comments section, “I need protein most when… ______________” and be sure to check out Premier Protein on Facebook. You need to watch the video on YouTube to leave a comment.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel in the mean time to make sure you don’t forget and miss the video when it goes live!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Premier Protein. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica @ Sweet Tooth Gets Healthy June 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Great tips! If you’re trying to lose weight do you calculate it based on your current weight or your goal weight?

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2 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Your current weight but excellent question! As you lose weight, you will not need as much. Aim to have between 25 and 35 percent of your calories coming from protein for weight loss.

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3 Cathy June 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Sarah,

This is so helpful. I must admit I find it very difficult to hit 100g+ of protein in a day. I guess better research and planning are key.

Am finding so many of your posts really informative and useful lately. Have followed your lead and bought a Polar FT60 today. Can’t wait for it to arrive. Next to figure out interval training on runkeeper.

Thanks again – really appreciate all the work you put in to your posts.

Cathy

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4 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm

oh Cathy, I feel your pain which is why I’ve become a protein powder/bar junkie. Another favorite of mine is making ice cream out of frozen bananas, vanilla protein powder, and almond milk at night. It’s so good when blended with a food processor or immersion blender. Greek yogurt, Laughing Cow Mini Babybels, hummus, are also all must have snack pairings.

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5 Mel June 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm

What was Dr. Oz’s explanation for consuming 30g of protein within 30 min of waking up?

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6 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It’s something that Tim Ferris – who wrote the 4 Hour Diet spoke about on his show. He agreed that he too followed that rule of thumb. I have not read Tim’s book however.

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7 megan June 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Very helpful and easy to understand post. I’ve trying to figure out how much I need in a day, so thanks Sarah!

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8 Joanna June 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm

My favorite is Jay Robb Whey Protein! It is THE best tasting and BEST quality out there by far. :) It truly is delicious! It’s rBGH-free whey protein, no MSG, no Acesulfame-K, no artificial flavors, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors, No aspartame, and no sucralose!

John Romaniello makes a great point about basing weight loss nutrional needs on our lean body mass, not our total weight (because the body fat does not need to be fed nutrients, so it shouldn’t be counted when figuring total caloric, protein needs).

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9 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Good point regarding John! I’ll look him up, I haven’t heard of him before.

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10 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Also, Jay Robb is really good but have you tried Vega? I like it better when baking.

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11 Wainy June 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Thanks Sarah! This article is very useful. I have been following program #2 for weight loss for the past few weeks and have seem a lot of improvements in my body’s appearance in addition to losing 8lbs. Thanks for all the advice!

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12 Kristi June 26, 2012 at 9:39 pm

What’s your preferred protein bar? I recall you saying that you don’t do Think Thin bars. I like them but I think they may have been giving me some stomach issues. I love the ratios of fat, carbs and protein of those bars, and have struggled to find a quality replacement. Thanks!

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13 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I do like ThinkThin – I actually had one today. The Premier Protein ones are really good too – taste similar, different flavors. I also like the new luna protein – they are great but might be hard to find still. The Simply Bar is good. There are a few others, but those are kind of my go to. I like Lara but they just lack protein for me.

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14 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Vega Sport also has a yummy protein bar I’ve mentioned in the past too! I haven’t seen them in stores though :( But they are awesome if you see them!!!

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15 Cara Bednar June 27, 2012 at 12:23 am

I am always traing for some sort of distance running event so I try and start my day off early with protein. Like you I love my shakes! I use sun warrior and absolutely love it but would love trying other products. I am 110% a bar girl when I am on the go. I love my kind bars, and Lara bars because they don’t have too many ” fake ingredients” but they sometimes are missing on the protein that Luna bars, proM ax, or core bars have. Any suggestions on ” real food” bars that have enough protein? I am like you and need my prominent in the am.

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16 Miranda @ Biting Life June 27, 2012 at 5:57 am

I know that it wasn’t your intention, but I was a little put-off by how you said: “The RDI (recommended daily intake) is .4 g per lb per day for a person who isn’t too active which I know is not you if you’re reading this.”

It just seemed a little alienating to your readers who might not be super active. It’s true, MOST of your readers are probably pretty active, like you said… but what if some of them aren’t, and instead are just looking for inspiration and motivation? Maybe it would be better if you tried to avoid those kinds of generalizations.

The only reason I’m even saying anything is because I love your blog, but I’m disabled. I have trouble being as active as your normal readers, but I don’t want to feel like I can’t participate in reading your blog because of that.

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17 Sarah June 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Hi Miranda, Thanks for taking time to let me know this. I sincerely hope you don’t think that I intentionally meant to offend you :( I really didn’t. But you are right, I did overlook my readers who use my site for inspiration but have yet to take action. However, I do think many of my readers are either active or looking to lose weight which would put them in the later protein ranges. But alas, you are right and I should not have assumed. I will be taking this into much more consideration when putting together future posts.

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18 Miranda @ Biting Life June 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Thank you so much :)

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19 Stephanie June 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I need protein most first thing in the morning! I have really noticed that when I eat a lot of protein in the morning, my usual 5pm carb cravings are minimal and my sweet tooth is not as strong! I love when I have time in the morning to make protein pancakes. I eat protein bars +a piece of fruit when I am on the go! Thanks for all of the inspiration!

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20 Sarah June 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Your comment needs to be on the video to be an entry but thanks for sharing on here too!!

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21 Laurie Mackeson June 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Sarah

The talk is about protien in the morning but I find that a nice juicy piece of fruit, usually an apple or pear, is ‘The Bomb’ for me. I have one about 5am, another one around 7am and then I am energized for my 30min cardio/body weight activities. I typically have breakfast around 8am. I am highly energized without the specific Protien source (I presume its the sugar in the fruit doing its ‘job’) and I am not left feeling hungry at any time during the day. Sorry to side track the Protien discussion but your thoughts would be appreciate.

Thanks Aussie-Guy (33yrs old / 88kg / 187cm)

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22 Lexi June 29, 2012 at 10:09 am

Hey Sarah, first of all i LOVE this blog! I read it everyday without fail for inspiration. I have a question regarding protein. I work out every morning and make sure i have enough time to come home first to make breakfast (steel cut oats with chia seeds and an apple) before going to work. I want to add more protein within that short window you explained about after working out. Should i add protein powder to my oats or have a protein shake immediately following my exercise?
Thanks a bunch!

Lexi

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23 Sarah June 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I would add a scoop of protein powder to your oatmeal or bring a shake to the gym and have it when you finish. On a side note, The apple and oatmeal are both giving you good carbs and fiber, do you really need that apple? I would suggest cutting it in half or omitting to off set the extra protein calories you are adding.

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24 Lexi June 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Awesome! Thanks for the advice!

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25 marlene parrott July 3, 2012 at 1:39 am

i need my protein best in the morning to start my day off to a really good start,so i dont feel sluggish ,i like to feel bouncy and glow from good healthy clean eating .

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26 Erica July 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Hi I just found your blog and love love love it! I wanted to enter the contest since I just discoverd the premiere protein shake. The 30 grams of protein caught my eye when I was grocery shopping and then looked at the stats of calories and sugar and thought I better try this. I normally just put protein powder with almond milk….but I said hey kill two birds with one stone.

I need protein most after teaching kids for six hours, I feel so tired and drained and protein is the only thing that will get me to the gym or through a 2 hours volleyball practice that I coach!

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27 David September 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Hello Sarah, I’m so tired to surfing the web and searching for answers and finding little to appease my problem. Well, my wife’s actually. I’ll try to make it brief. My wife is heavy at 5’9″ which is also my height. I’m about 30# overweight and she is probably twice that amount overweight. We’re both in our mid-50’s and are just starting to exercise some on campus where we both attend college. We both love to cook and usually almost always cook from scratch using spices and fresh herbs that we grow. This is all just background stuff, so I will give you my immediate dilemma. My wife gets very weak and somewhat nauseous if she doesn’t eat within the first hour of waking up. Usually its 2-3 eggs and then she’s fine. A fruit smoothie will work for her as well as long as there is protein added to it. So it seems that protein is the key to making her symptoms subside. My problem is that I want to find a protein powder that is of a quality that makes it worth the cost. I’ve been reading so many stories about how so many protein supplements are unnecessary and can actually be harmful. I want to get away from the eggs and lean towards more fruit-smoothies in the mornings as I tend to think they would be gentler on her stomach. Any thoughts on any of this?

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28 Venus December 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been
blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of
your web site is fantastic, let alone the content!

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29 Pen.io September 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm

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