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: about 0.3 to 0.4 grams per pound of body weight. However, if you’re lifting weights, running, biking (or participating in any type of physical activity, for that matter), you should probably up your intake a bit.
As you exercise, you put more stress on the 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 and contribute to better brain function and insulin response.
When doing resistance training, you should increase your intake to around 0.45 to 0.65 grams per pound of body weight, depending on your activity level. If you lift weights or are looking to bulk up, this increases further to around 0.75-1 gram per pound. There are rarer situations where it is necessary to increase the intake even more. For example, if you are training 5 times per week, are in a caloric deficit, are already very lean, and are looking to build or preserve muscle, you should consume 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’s important to consider whether or not the protein is complete. Bread, for example, contains protein but lacks certain amino acids. This means that it is “incomplete”. However, by combining bread with other foods (like beans, which contain the missing amino acids), you can make 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 hard to find foods that complement each other. For this reason, there is a great website that allows you to examine the protein profile in thousands of foods. When viewing an article, there is even an option to view foods with complementary amino acid profiles.
Calculation of daily requirements
If you’re not sure how much protein you need while exercising or dieting, there are some online calculators 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 including references to the research used to build it.