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How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?

Table of foodAs the cornerstone of a healthy diet, protein is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall well-being. When Dr. Craig talks nutrition basics with patients, his first bit of advice is to make protein the centerpiece of your meal and build lots of veggies and healthy fats around it.

How Much Protein Is Enough?

Traditional nutritional recommendations indicate that you need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, these recommendations date back to WW2 and were designed as minimum amounts when resources were scarce. A healthy diet will contain much higher levels of protein and will take into consideration your activity levels and goals.

For example, if you are a very sedentary individual, 0.8 grams per kg body weight is probably sufficient as you are likely not stressing your muscles, and the need for protein to repair and develop muscle is minimal.

On the other hand, if you are at the gym regularly, you probably need more. And, if you are actively engaged in regular strength training and want to build muscle, you likely need as much as 2.2 grams per kg (that’s a gram of protein for every lb of body weight!). If you are active and eating less protein than this, you will find it very difficult to build muscle.

Requirements for Active Adults 50 & Older

Studies have shown that increasing your protein becomes even more important if you are over 50 and active. When 50-plus-year-olds doubled their protein intake from 0.8 grams per kg body weight up to 1.6 grams per kg of body weight, they were able to build significantly more muscle.

You should know that 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is a lot of protein. Eating that much protein may be difficult unless it displaces other foods (like simple, refined carbohydrates).

The Power of Paleo

Paleo and carnivore-type diets work well for highly active people. These diets focus on nutrient-dense sources of protein which are very satiating and thereby create fewer episodes of hunger when we are tempted to grab the easy items like snacks and processed foods. Translation: fill up on healthy sources of nutrient-dense protein first, and you will feel less hungry for the things you know you shouldn’t eat.

Good Sources of Protein

So how do you get this much protein? Well, a palm-sized serving of meat will contain about 30 grams (depending on your palm size!). Incidentally, 30-40 grams of protein seems to be the most that our bodies can digest during one meal, so you should spread your intake throughout the day. Eggs, free-range poultry, grass-fed beef, lamb, and fish are all excellent sources.

“I hope this helps, and I hope it makes you meat lovers as happy as it made me,” said Dr. Craig.

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