How Much Protein Do I Need in A Day?

How Much Protein Do I Need in A Day?

What is Protein?

Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are the three macronutrients which make up your diet. Proteins are made of amino acids. The body breaks protein down into amino acids, and uses these amino acids as building blocks to make new proteins. Protein does a lot of useful things, such as:

  • Building muscle and preserving muscle mass and strength.
  • Building body tissues, such as bones, blood vessels, skin, and hair.
  • Repairing tissues and helping wounds heal.
  • Producing essential chemicals, such as hormones and enzymes. 
  • Producing cells that carry oxygen and fight infection.
  • Maintaining acid-base balance.
  • Maintaining fluid balance and preventing edema. 
  • Helping you to lose weight by making you feel full longer.

How much should you take?

While the amount of protein recommended depends on your individual needs, an estimated 10-35% of your calories should come from protein. The recommended daily allowance of protein is at least 0.36 grams of protein for each pound of your body weight. Some sources recommend that people consume about 0.5 grams of protein for each pound of body weight and even more, perhaps 0.7-0.75 grams per pound of body weight if they are trying to lose weight. For people who exercise heavily and are trying to lose weight, 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of their goal weight may be recommended. However, some people, such as those with kidney disease, should not be on a high-protein diet.

  • An average sedentary man needs about 56 grams of protein daily.
  •  An average sedentary woman needs about 46 grams of protein daily. 
  • A woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding needs about 71 grams of protein daily. 

Recommended Plan

It is probably best if you spread your protein throughout the day, because your body can only absorb limited amounts at a time.

Here is a list of protein-rich foods and their estimated protein content:

  • 3 ounces of fish:  21 grams
  • 3 ounces of chicken or turkey:  19 grams
  • 6 ounces of yogurt:  17 grams
  • ½ cup of cottage cheese:  14 grams
  • 1 cup of cooked lima beans:  12 grams
  • ¼ cup of nuts: 7 grams
  • 1 egg or 1 cup of cooked spinach:  6 grams
  • 1 cup of cooked sweet corn:  5 grams
  • 1 cup of cooked sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, or asparagus:  4 grams


  • Protein builds and repairs tissues, makes hormones, and helps with weight management.
  • Protein needs vary depending on factors like weight, activity level, and health conditions.
  • The daily recommendation is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, but some may need more.
  • Average needs:
    • Sedentary men: 56 grams
    • Sedentary women: 46 grams
    • Pregnant/breastfeeding women: 71 grams
  • Spread protein intake throughout the day for optimal absorption.
  • Choose protein-rich foods like fish, chicken, beans, nuts, eggs, and some vegetables.

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

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