How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

Proteins are chains of amino acids found in every cell in your body. These proteins are used to repair, maintain, and grow new cells. Because they are constantly broken down, you need to replace the protein your body needs to function.

So, exactly how much protein does your body need? That depends on a variety of factors, including age, weight, exercise habits, and many others. Nutrient deficiencies are common in the United States, but protein is not typically among them. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "...most adults in the United States get more than enough protein to meet their needs. It's rare for someone who is healthy and eating a varied diet to not get enough protein."

Generally, you only need about 10-35 percent of your daily calories to come from protein. That’s about 46 grams of protein a day for adult women, or 56 grams for men. For most people, two to three servings of protein are enough to fulfill your daily protein requirements. Examples of plant-based protein serving sizes include:

  • 1/2 cup of beans
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter
  • ¾ cup tofu

If you regularly consume more protein than your body needs, the extra protein calories will be stored as fat. While too much protein isn't recommended, there are some cases when additional protein is beneficial. During weight loss, for instance, you want to be sure that it's fat you're losing - not muscle. Researchers have found that doubling the recommended daily allowance of protein actually prevented muscle loss and promoted fat loss among those trying to lose weight by following a healthy diet and exercising.

Senior citizens and pregnant women should also consider increasing their protein. It helps protect against age-related muscle loss.

Incorporate healthy forms of protein into your diet by choosing sources that are low-fat and full of healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as wild-caught fish, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, or organic whey protein.