How much should I be taking as a minimum and how much do I need to perform at my best?
It really depends. A cliché answer but it's true.
As simply as possible, the general recommendation for protein intake for healthy adults is '0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight'. For example, if you are an 80kg male, you would need around 64g of protein a day, and a 60kg female would need to consume around 48g of protein.
However, the amount of protein you need, is not necessarily the same as the amount of protein that is optimal.
For people who are active or train regularly, protein needs can increase to 1.6-2.4g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. This means that our 60kg woman might need anywhere from 96g to 144g of protein per day. And our 80kg male might need between 128g to 192g of protein per day.
Generally, if you’re eating a varied diet without restricting any major food groups, you’re probably reaching your basic protein needs without even thinking about it. However, if you’re looking to pursue athletic, fitness, or weight loss goals, it can be helpful to include more protein-rich foods in your meals like meat, fish, eggs, tofu, and legumes which will support muscle recovery and help you feel satisfied after eating.
Below are some snack ideas you can try which will help increase your overall daily protein intake. As you can see a protein shake is a great way to get your protein needs without having to eat lots of different foods!
- Banana, 5g protein
- 30g nuts, 5g protein
- R-Bar , 20g protein
- 2 boiled eggs, 5g protein
- 1 slice of peanut butter on toast, 8g protein
- Instant Whey Pro On The Go 20g
- 125g Greek Yogurt and berries, 4g protein
- Carrot sticks and 50g hummus, 6g protein
You are the expert of your own body, so experimenting with different meals and snacks containing various amounts of protein and assessing how you feel afterwards in terms of satiety, energy, performance and mood (this is called ‘interoceptive awareness’) is a great way to see how much protein you need to look and feel your best.
Need help with getting protein into your diet?
Hector, A. J., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Protein recommendations for weight loss in elite athletes: A focus on body composition and performance. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 28(2), 170-177.