It’s easy for all this talk of protein in the diet to sound like your high school chemistry class. Let’s break it down.
The average person eating a standard Western diet is probably not protein deficient. Almost all foods, after all, contain some protein, even broccoli (~3g in a fist-size cup). Because most people eating a Western diet are relatively sedentary, they really don’t need much protein for repair or rebuilding. The average 150lb person needs about 55g of protein a day to cover basic daily requirements; a 200lb person needs about 72g.
However, that doesn’t mean their protein intake is optimal. We talk a lot about nutrition through the lens of strength training, but protein doesn’t just rebuild muscle tissue. It also repairs our hormones and immune system. Pretty essential stuff.
So, in addition to aiding in muscle repair, why else might you adjust your protein intake upwards?
– if you have a very physically demanding job
– if you are injured, sick, or recovering from surgery
– if you experience chronic physical stress or poor digestion, leading to protein loss
– if you are trying to lose weight, because protein keeps us feeling full longer
You might have read about the dangers of protein overconsumption somewhere. Of course, there are reasons to adjust your intake downwards. Those reasons, such as kidney disease, exceed the scope of this post and are best determined through medical nutrition therapy. For those of us with healthy kidneys though, even a relatively high protein intake at 1.2g/lb of bodyweight does not seem to impair kidney function.
When it comes to protein, don’t sweat it. Or maybe do sweat it, because protein is thermogenic… 🤣
But enough with the chemistry jokes! Most of us could probably stand to consume a little more protein. Above all, start with protein from real food sources first (the less processed the better), and turn to supplementation as your second defense.