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What is your Protein Number?

Updated on December 5, 2016

Find your Protein number

How much daily protein does the body need?

If I had a quarter for every time I was asked this question in all of my years of personal training, I would be a very rich man. Whether you are trying to lose pounds of unwanted weight, a fitness fanatic, or a competitive body builder trying to gain mass, your body requires protein. How much you're required to intake on a daily basis is the question. However there really is not a standard or ideal number. Everyone's body is different, weight and activity levels are always going to vary, the amount of muscle you have (body composition) will also play a major factor and everyone's body processes proteins at a different metabolic rate. There is a way you can figure out your "protein number". First convert your body weight into kgs (kilograms). Then chose your activity level. Be honest with your self so the number will be much more accurate. If you are extremely active use 1.8 and multiply it by your weight in kgs. When your perform weight training, do aerobics or whatever kind of exercise/fitness you're into, the workout tears and breakdown muscle fibers. The protein (commonly referred to as the building blocks of the body) from your diet, whether it's from food or shakes, delivers amino acids to the body in order to rebuild, repair and grow the muscles back. Consuming protein after a workout (within about 45 minutes after the workout is completed) allows you to grow back bigger and stronger. If a sufficient amount of protein is not consumed, you will/can limit your growth potential and you will feel the affects of being sore longer, muscles will not be as hard and have the appearance of being soft, and oh yeah, did I mention growth will be slow?

Suggested Protein Intake based on Activity Level

Protein Bio-Availability Index

Protein Absorbtion

The human body can only process/absorb so much protein at one time, so taking it excessively is never going to be a good thing. The body does not have the ability to store protein, so if you're taking in more than it can handle, the excess protein will be excreted from the body by way of the kidneys. If there are issues/problems with the kidneys, eating unreasonable amounts of protein will be an even bigger problem. Proteins have 4 calories per gram, so take that into consideration. Whatever the body does not use/absorb or is able to excrete as waste, will be converted into fat and stored. Some studies have shown that inordinate amounts of protein are also associated with the bad odor of flatulence. Research has suggested that the body does not require, nor can it absorb more than approximately 30 grams of protein per meal. So theoretically, if you are eating 5 to 6 times a day, you would be taking in about 180 grams a day. This is contrary to the belief that athletes should consume up to 500 grams a day. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) implies that athletes and active individuals take in a half a gram of protein per pound of body weight. I stand six feet tall and a 205 pound man. So that would mean I would only have to eat a little over a 100 grams of protein a day. Which one is correct? To make a long story short, they are both right. One standard number is not going to pertain to everyone, because everyone is different. A 160 pound weight lifter is not going to require the same amount of protein as a 300 pound defensive lineman. The bigger the person is, the more food they are going to require, which means more protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

  • 1 cup Milk, Skim
  • 2 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Chocolate Syrup, Sugar free
  • 1 scoop/ounce Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 2 cubes Ice

Directions for Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Makes one serving/shake.

Chocolate Peanut butter Protein Shake

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 shake
Calories 201
Calories from Fat81
% Daily Value *
Fat 9 g14%
Saturated fat 2 g10%
Carbohydrates 13 g4%
Sugar 4 g
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 19 g38%
Cholesterol 5 mg2%
Sodium 208 mg9%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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Recommended Intake; Athlete vs Average Joe

Whey Protein powder

Timing is everything

Another question that goes hand in hand with "how much protein does my body need" is when should I eat/take protein. We have already established that in order to keep your metabolism rev'd up and burning fat, it's recommended to eat 5 to 6 meals a day. So if you subtract the 8 hours of sleep you are/should be getting (in theory of course), you should be eating about every 3 hours or so. One of the best times to grab a shake/meal is right after an intense workout. Your muscle fibers are torn and beat up and are ready to employ protein/amino acids to rebuild for growth. Most women will have an issue with this time, but eating right before bedtime is great for recovery/rebuilding. You grow when you sleep. Remember ladies, it's not when you eat, it's what you eat. Your body can not tell time. As soon as you open your eyes and rise in the morning is another good time to pour down a healthy protein shake. Your body has been in panic/starvation mode for 8 hours (assuming you are getting 8 hours of sleep like you should be) and needs to be fed. All your other meals should consist of adequate protein as well, but these are the times when your body will absorb them more efficiently. Whey Isolate is the best form of protein available, although it doesn't have the best taste. I personally have to add a little flavor to it. Eggs, chicken, and fish are also good sources. Be careful of some sources that come high in sodium and fat content.

Protein digestion times

Protein Type
Digestion Time
Time in hours
Egg Yolk
30 minutes
1/2 hour
Whole Egg
45 minutes
3/4 hour
Low Fat Fish (Flounder, Tilapia,seafood)
30 minutes
1/2 hour
High Fat Fish (Salmon, Trout)
45 - 60 minutes
up to 1 hour
Chicken (skinless)
90 - 120 mnutes
up to 2 hours
Turkey (skinless)
120 - 150 minutes
up to 2 1/2 hours
Beef, Lamb
180 - 240 minutes
up to 4 hours
Pork
270 - 300 minutes
up to 5 hours
Cassein (milk)
420 - 480 minutes
up to 8 hours
The times will vary by individual as everyone's body processes things at different rates.

Proteins are the building blocks of the body

Macronutrients are not processed in the same manner

As I stated earlier, whether you are trying to gain lean muscle mass and get bigger or you're dieting to lose weight/change your body composition and get smaller/leaner, you need to consume an adequate amount of protein,consistently, and on a daily basis. A lot of weight loss seekers by now have found out that diets are simply just temporary. Cutting out all together or even a large portion of any one or more of your macronutrients can have an adverse reaction on your body. Look at it like this, the protein you eat builds your muscle, the carbohydrates consumed provide you with energy needed through the day and the fats that are taking in allow your organs to function properly and efficiently. So what do you think will happen if you were to cut one of them out of your diet? More than likely you would be out of sync and become sickly. A gram of fat comes along with 9 calories each, while both proteins and carbohydrates grams have 4 calories each. They are used by the body in different manners. Then you add in "variable change", meaning everyone's body is different and have/are at different activity levels. Basically the point is you have to learn your own body to find "your" number of necessary protein grams per day required to reach your weight loss/lean muscle gain goal. Just make sure you don't overdo it, especially if weight loss is the goal. Once you have figured out the way your body responds and how fast it processes, reaching your fitness goal will be a piece of cake.

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    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 3 years ago from USA

      I really like that you talk about protein needs varying from person to person and also with level of activity. I find that I do pretty well when I get 80 to about 120 grams per day, but it depends on what I am doing. I am only 5'2", though. Always, I have been more muscular than my willowy gal pals so there is that to consider, too.

      I fractured my heel bone and did some soft tissue damage last May and it still has not finished healing. (Gardening activity digging up rocks and then tripping over them lol!) So I have been experimenting with nutrition to help get the best healing I can reach for.

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 3 years ago from chennai

      Alphadogg, very interesting facts about protein. It would be useful for everyone who are health conscious.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Thanks for the advice on protein intake. I can see how a muscles would need this after a hard workout.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image
      Author

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for the read MsDora, and yes taking an excessive amount of protein is hard on your kidneys.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Voted Up and Useful. This is an eye opener for me on the intake of protein. I wonder if an excessive intake burdens the kidneys. Thank you for this very important information.