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Explained: Your Optimal Daily Protein Intake

As an essential macronutrient for the human body, you'd be surprised how many of us are not consuming enough protein recommended to maintain good health and strong bodies.

For your body to function optimally, it needs adequate protein to repair and build new cells, grow and strengthen muscle tissue and support your immune system. Proteins are the building blocks of life, with every human cell containing this vital macronutrient to support healthy organs, bones, skin, and hair.

The general structure of a protein is a chain of amino acids that are absorbed after digesting protein-rich foods. Amino acids can be found in animal and plant sources, including milk, fish, eggs, meat, soy, nut butters, legumes, and grains like quinoa. So, as you can see, it's not a hard macronutrient to find as it makes up most of the foods a lot of us already eat. So, why are we still not getting enough of it? Most people don't actually know how much protein they need for their bodies. Depending on gender, weight, body composition goals, and activity level, your daily recommended protein intake may not be the same as the person next to you. It may, in fact, change throughout different stages of your life. So let's take a look at how much protein we should be consuming to support a healthy, well-functioning body depending on our current activity status and body goals.

Protein Intake for Healthy Sedentary Adults

Our research suggests a daily protein intake of 0.8-1g of protein per kilo of body weight for generally healthy adults who spend most of their time seated or inactive. For example, if you weigh 80kgs, your suggested amount of protein to consume daily is 64-80g of protein. Suppose you fall within this category and eat reasonably healthy. In that case, you are more than likely meeting your protein needs via meat, eggs, and vegetables. However, suppose you find you are not reaching your daily recommended protein amount. In that case, you may want to try topping it up with a high-quality protein shake like Evolve Incredible Whey or Evolve Vegan Protein for those who prefer a plant-based lifestyle.

Protein Intake for Mature Adults

Naturally, throughout the process of aging, your muscles begin to resist growth, so to encourage protein synthesis, your body will develop an increased need for protein. The risks of experiencing falls and fractures resulting in disability as you age also increases, along with the loss of muscle mass that may follow after. It is imperative for mature adults (over 50) to continue consuming a minimum of 0.8-1g of protein per kilo of body mass to maintain strength and functionality. Some studies also suggest increasing the amount of protein you consume to 1.2g per kilo of body weight due to the importance of maintaining strength, stability, and quality of life as you age. While protein is essential for muscle strength, it also aids with the strengthening of bones and connective tissues like ligaments, joints, and tendons, which all begin to weaken with the natural process of aging.

Protein Intake for Muscle Gain

Suppose your body composition goals align with gaining muscle. In that case, a calorie surplus (eating more than you are burning) is essential to support growth. However, you can't just eat your way to bigger muscles. Resistance and strength training with progressive overload is the other important element to reaching increased muscle mass goals. Remember, protein is vital for your muscle recovery and growth, so ensuring you consume the correct amount to support your goals is imperative for achieving results. Our research indicates a total of 1.6-2.4g of protein per kilo of body weight is recommended for most people looking to increase muscle mass in conjunction with a personalised strength training plan for optimal results. Increasing protein specifically while in a calorie surplus may also minimise an increase in body fat. This means your fuel (food) is being used to feed and fuel your muscles with the proper nutrients to encourage effective repair and recovery.

Protein Intake for Fat Loss

It goes without saying that to achieve fat loss, it's recommended to be in a calorie deficit for a specific time frame (eating less than you are burning). When combined with a suitable exercise routine, a diet high in protein can benefit your results by keeping you fuller for longer, reducing hunger cravings, and maintaining lean muscle mass. For adults under the age of 50, our research suggests consuming 1.2-1.5g of protein per kilo of body weight and 1.5g of protein per kilo of body weight for adults over 50. 

For relatively lean athletes, achieving fat loss can be challenging considering the risks of losing hard-earned muscle mass at the same time. Our research suggests that athletes wanting to lose fat while maintaining lean muscle consume 1.6-2.4g of protein per kilo of body weight. Maintaining a calorie deficit while meeting daily protein requirements can be challenging as food also contains other macronutrients like carbs and fats. Topping up your protein intake without the additional carbs and fats can be achieved with a lean, high-quality protein powder like Evolve WPI.

Protein Intake for Athletes

Regular physical activity indicates that you need to consume more protein than a sedentary adult. This kind of activity could include a culmination of gym sessions, various sports, competitive/athlete level fitness competitions, group fitness classes, marathons, long-distance walking, etc. If you felt weak, tired, and sore, you likely wouldn't want to go and climb a mountain or play a game of footy, right?

The body needs to be fuelled appropriately to provide energy, maintain strength, and support recovery to maintain this activity level. Our sources recommend a daily intake of 1.2-2g of protein per kilo of body mass for athletes to maintain strength and encourage adequate repair and muscle recovery.

Protein Intake for Vegetarians and Vegans

Quality plays a big part in how much your body is actually absorbing when it comes to plant-based protein. Suppose you are only consuming protein from plant-based sources. In that case, it's essential to be mindful of the quality and amount of protein you intake, as plant-based protein's digestibility rate is 60-80%. In contrast, protein from animal sources has a digestibility rate higher than 90%. The amino acid profile of the protein and digestibility determine the quality of the protein, so you want to make sure that what you are eating is being used to support your daily protein requirements.

Whether from quality plant-based protein powders or whole foods, plant-based protein has significantly lower essential amino acids than animal-based protein. As plant proteins are less bioavailable and contain fewer essential amino acids than animal proteins, additional plant-based proteins need to be consumed to achieve muscle protein synthesis. Our research suggests consuming 10% more protein than meat-eaters to ensure you're getting enough protein in your daily diet. However, remember this is dependent on your personal body goals and activity level.

As you can see, protein recommendations are individual to the person and their body composition/health goals. EveryBODY is different and has different needs. If you are unsure what you need or have concerns about your diet, we highly recommend discussing further with your general practitioner or friendly dietitian for advice.

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