Should you eat 1 gram of protein per pound?
In this brief guide, we will answer the query “How much protein do you need to eat per pound?” Additionally, we provide you with relevant information like what is the role of protein in a healthy diet; what factors can affect your protein requirements; and finally, what food sources can you choose for optimal nutrition.
Should you eat 1 gram of protein per pound?
No, you should eat between 0.36 and 0.45 g of protein per pound of weight; these are the recommendations for healthy people. However, your requirements could vary according to your health and physical activity conditions (1).
Are there any health concerns if you eat too much protein?
There is controversy about the negative effects of eating too much protein, because it could cause damage to kidneys. However, there are studies demonstrating that intakes around 1.35 g per pound for over a year were safe (1,2).
The best thing you can do is to consult a nutrition specialist, he or she will define your protein requirements.
What are the factors affecting your protein needs per pound?
There are health conditions and lifestyle conditions that could influence your protein requirements (1,3).
For example, people with kidney disease are advised to reduce their protein intake to 0.27 – 0.35 g per pound. In contrast, people with metabolic stress like burning, cancer, or sepsis, could require around 0.45 – 0.675 g of protein per pound (3).
According to your lifestyle, if you are an athlete, or a person who does exhaustive workouts, you could need as much as 0.54 – 0.99 g of protein per pound (1).
What is the role of protein in a healthy diet?
Protein is the only macronutrient with amino acids, which are the building blocks for a lot of cells, structures, and molecules in your body. Here is a list of the main functions of proteins (and amino acids) in your organism (4):
- Proteins create tissues and structures like muscle, hair, and organs.
- There are molecules made of proteins like hormones and neurotransmitters that are essential to ensure a good metabolic and neurological functionality.
- Your immune cells require proteins to be created and function correctly.
- Your body requires some specialized proteins, known as enzymes, to do vital processes like respiration and digestion of your foods.
Therefore, if you eat too few proteins you could get a deficiency. Protein deficiency can increase the risks of infectious diseases and alter the correct function of organs like the liver (4).
What are the best protein sources for optimal nutrition?
The best protein sources for optimal nutrition are animal-derived proteins like lean beef and pork meat, milk and dairy products, eggs, fish, chicken, and turkey; all these are considered as sources of high-quality proteins because they contain all essential amino acids (those that your body cannot synthesize) (5).
Nevertheless, you can also find proteins in cereals and legumes, but they are not complete. Cereals lack Lysine, and legumes lack Methionine. Nonetheless, if you combine cereals and legumes you will form a complete protein (6).
In this brief guide, we answered the query “How much protein do you need to eat per pound?” Additionally, we provided you with relevant information like what is the role of protein in a healthy diet; what factors can affect your protein requirements; and finally, what food sources can you choose for optimal nutrition.
- Huecker M, Sarav M, Pearlman M, Laster J. Protein supplementation in sport: Source, timing, and intended benefits. Curr Nutr Rep, 2019;8(4):382–96.
- Ko GJ, Obi Y, Tortorici AR, Kalantar-Zadeh K. Dietary protein intake and chronic kidney disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2017;20(1):77–85.
- Kaushik S, Singh R, Cuervo AM. Autophagic pathways and metabolic stress. Diabetes Obes Metab, 2010;12 Suppl 2:4–14.
- Olson B, Marks DL, Grossberg AJ. Diverging metabolic programmes and behaviours during states of starvation, protein malnutrition, and cachexia. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle, 2020;11(6):1429–46.
- Bradbury KE, Tong TYN, Key TJ. Dietary intake of high-protein foods and other major foods in meat-eaters, poultry-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans in UK Biobank. Nutrients, 2017;9(12):1317.
- Day L. Proteins from land plants – Potential resources for human nutrition and food security. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2013;32(1):25–42.