How Much Protein Should You Eat?

protein sources

The quest for a healthy, balanced diet is one we all know well. The wealth of dietary information that bombards us as soon as we log on to the internet is overwhelming and often misleading, especially when it comes to protein. With one site promising instant weight loss with one diet, and another site warning of invisible pitfalls, it has become a challenge to differentiate between fact and fiction. One thing is for sure, though. Protein is no longer just the fuel of men and body builders. The benefits of protein should be reaped by all, regardless of age, gender or lifestyle! Take a look below to see just how important a little extra protein in our diets is for our health!

Why it's important: Protein is absolutely essential for our bodies. It provides the building blocks used to make muscles, tendons, organs, skin, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and more. We utilize protein to repair our muscles and organs, making it absolutely crucial for a well-functioning body. Protein also has been proven to help with weight loss and maintenance. When 25-30 percent of your daily caloric intake consists of calories obtained from protein, studies have shown that protein consumption actually boosts our metabolic rate and reduces our appetite. This, in turn, helps to lower rampant blood pressure and can help combat diabetes. So what makes protein so important? Protein is actually assembled out of essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. In order to take advantage of the numerous benefits of the amino acids, we have to consume a good deal of protein.

woman milk

How much you should eat a day: Unfortunately, we can't give you one simple answer. According to Authority Nutrition, protein consumption varies depending on an individual's activity levels, age, muscle mass, physique goals, and current state of health. If you are physically active, your body is going to need more protein than someone who is sedentary. Experts recommend active women eat double the recommended daily amount of protein in order to tone and tighten that waistline. All you have to do is multiply your weight by 0.36, and you will get your RDA of protein in grams. Then, be sure to double that number! For instance, a 150 pound woman should consume 150 x 0.36 grams x 2, or 108 grams of protein a day if she is trying to lose weight.

>> Read more: Protein Packed: When Too Much of a Good Thing is Bad!

How to incorporate protein into your meals: Luckily, there are a multitude of simple ways to add protein to your daily diet. Try to add lean meats, dairy, eggs, nuts, fish, quinoa, legumes, and soy-based products to every meal. Check out this chart from the International Food Information Council Foundation to see some examples!

protein meals
(Photo: International Food Information Council Foundation)

Adding protein to your diet is an easy and delicious way to give your body exactly what it needs to grow strong and lean. Check out some of our favorite protein-packed recipes to fuel you and your family: 9 Best Protein Pancakes for a Killer Morning, 10 Protein-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet, Getting Enough Protein as a Vegetarian, 7 High Protein, Low-Carb Dinner Recipes.