How Much Protein Should You Eat?

How much protein do you actually need?

Well, according to the USDA, a moderately active person over 19 years of age is recommended to consume 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day. That equals out to about 268 calories, or 67 grams, (4 calories for every gram of protein) of protein a day for a 150 pound person.

As a nutritionist, I think that’s too much protein.

Here is what I recommend, using a sample menu of 1400-1500 calories:

Calories:  1400-1500 per day

70% carbs:  980 calories / 245 grams

20% fat:  280 calories / 31 grams

10% protein: 140 calories* / 35 grams*

*(above protein percentages, calories and grams are recommendations for animal based protein, amounts can be higher if protein #’s are coming from plant based meals.)

This is approximately what a sample meal plan of protein for that person would look like a day:

  • 1 large egg (6gms),
  • ⅔ cup of quinoa (8gms)
  • ¼ cup of almonds (8gms)
  • 3 oz wild salmon (17gms).

Some food for thought:  According to the China Study, a book released in 2006, the Chinese culture eats about half the protein that Americans do, most of which comes from plant-based protein like beans, nuts, and seeds.  The Chinese culture in general is considered healthier, in terms of weight and disease, than Americans are.

Calculate Your Protein Needs Like This:

Total recommended calories per day (i.e. 2000) x .10 (10%) = 200 calories, or 50* grams of protein per day

(There are 4 calories for every gram of protein- 200 cals / 4  = 50 grams )

2 comments for this entry:

  • Nixon

    I am pretty confused here when it comes to the normal recommendation between protein and calories consumption. I’ve always thought to lose weight you should consume more proteins and less carbs.

  • Peter

    Great point. Research shows that we only need about 10% of total calories from protein. Also, there is no long term evidence between high protein diets and weight loss, or health. What we do know for certain is that cultures that consume the most plant based foods, and limit their protein, are the healthiest, including healthy weights.