How Much Protein​ Should We Eat: The Current Theories

When you first search Google for “how much protein should I eat daily?” you get a long list of non-science backed articles and blogs. They will tell you everything from equations you can use to calculate it yourself or the common myth for men is 1 gram per kilogram of body weight per day. As an athlete, I am very concerned about what I eat, and I have never been able to get a clear answer to this question.

I tried two vastly different protein calculators to get a range on how much protein I should be eating. Both required my age, height, weight, and activity level on a four-point scale. The first was from BodyBuilding.COM. While I don’t consider this a reliable source of information, it was the second link when googling my protein question, so it is probably clicked on quite often. Their calculator told me that I needed to eat 217grams per day. The second was from the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) which told me I only needed 60 grams of protein per day. That is a large difference that drastically changes my diet. But what does the science say?

In 2007, scientist gathered at the first ever Protein Summit to discuss this every topic and its effects on human health. There, experts reviewed the many studies done on protein consumption in the form of recommending grams per kg of body weight. This equation was established to serve as a universal equation that many people could understand. It was established that the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. This equation puts me at 60 grams of protein per day, spot on to the FNIC’s estimate. Many of the studies covered at the summit pushed for adequate consumption of protein as it could lead to better health benefits for muscles. Everyone should then be fallowing the RDA equation above, but are they?

In this country, the average American 19-30 years old will consume 90 grams of protein per day. (Fulgoni, 2008). While this may be much more than other countries, it is close to the RDA of the average American male’s weight of 191 pounds, or 69 grams of protein per day. While the average American may be a little over consuming on protein, it could still be beneficial as even doubling your RDA is still within the range recommended by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health PromotionI have personally consumed over 200 grams of protein daily for an extended period and saw no health effects. While I was unable to find a reliable source on how much protein is too much, I conclude that these figures that are given out by popular fitness sources to be extravagant and unsustainable.

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In short, it seems that the protein debate is still a debate with many conflicting ideas. Many sources will tend to agree with the RDA of .8 grams per kilogram of body weight to be healthy and readily achievable. Peter W. R. Lemon from the Univeristy of Western Ontario, London has published many papers regarding protein and athletic performance that suggest a higher protein diet, double the RDA, is beneficial. While we many not all be athletes, it is important to watch our protein consumption to maintain our physical health. I personally will be aiming for my 60 grams a day as I see it to be easily achievable and healthy back by science.

We all know that protein is an essential part of our daily diet, but it is important to consider our protein sources. The amount of protein we consume every day can have large effects on the agricultural industry depending on how we consume it. If people believe that they need a significant amount of protein per day, they may turn to meats as a quick, popular, and well-known source. Eating more meat may not be the answer for everyone or the environment. I believe that everyone’s body is different and that they should ask a nutritionist here at CU for personal advice in order to be healthy and have the qurestion answered once and for all.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “How Much Protein​ Should We Eat: The Current Theories

  1. amyquandt

    Interesting topic. During your research did you find any statistics about men and women needing different amounts of protein? If so, how is it different?

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    • seanfox1

      The RDA is consistent across genders. I would say that it is assumed that women weigh less than men on average and therefore don’t need to consume as much protein. Many of the online calculators including the FNIC calculator produced no differences between genders. The one section of the protein summit that would only concern women was altering protein consumption while breastfeeding and during pregnancy.

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