If you don’t exercise regularly, the answer to how much protein you need is pretty simple: the government-recommended levels are more than adequate – around 0.3-0.4 grams per pound of body weight. However, if you’re lifting weights, running, cycling (or participating in any kind of physical activity, for that matter) you should probably increase your intake a bit.
While you exercise, you could put more stress on your body. When you train, you damage muscle cells. Protein synthesis is the process by which biological cells create new proteins that help repair and rebuild tissue. Higher levels of protein help with this process, as well as helping to improve brain function and insulin response.
When resistance training, you should increase your intake to around 0.45-0.65 grams per pound of body weight, depending on the level of activity. If you are lifting weights, or looking to gain weight, this increases further to around 0.75-1 gram per pound. There are rarer situations where you need to increase your intake even more. For example, if you are training 5 times a week, have a caloric deficit, are already very lean, and are looking to build or preserve muscle, you should be consuming more than 1 gram per pound. Still, the upper limit should be 1.4 grams per pound of body weight.
When planning your diet, it is important to consider whether the protein is complete or not. Bread, for example, contains protein but lacks certain amino acids. This means that it is “incomplete”. However, by combining bread with other foods (such as beans, which contain the missing amino acids), you can form a complete protein. A complete protein is one that contains all nine essential amino acids.
When it comes to building complete proteins, it can be difficult to find foods that complement each other. For this reason, there is a great site that allows you to examine the protein profile of thousands of foods. When viewing an article, there is even the option to view foods with complementary amino acid profiles.
Calculate daily needs
If you’re not sure how much protein you need while exercising or dieting, there are some calculators online that can help you find the answer. This is probably one of the best protein calculators as it takes into account a wide range of criteria while also including references to the research used to build it.