What Are the Average Daily Requirements for Protein?
We know that protein is a critical building block of life. Not getting enough does not only compromise your protein composition, but your entire body as well. When it comes to protein requirements, there can be several different opinions on this matter. The amount most organizations suggest may not even be enough for optimal health.
The right amount comes down to a few factors such as age, muscle mass, fitness level, current healt condition and your physical goals. You’ll have to adjust your protein intake according to these factors. For example, if you are a regular strength trainer, you may need more protein than a person who doesn’t strength train as much.
What Are Proteins?
Small chemicals called amino acids make up larger molecule protein. Humans need 20 different amino acids so that their bodies can produce the daily required amount of protein. Your body is capable of making 10 of these amino acids on its own. The other 10 must come from the food you eat.
Consuming protein is essential for tissue repair and critical enzymes and hormones needed for metabolic functions. Protein also helps with the production of antibodies that aids with your body’s defense against infections. Proteins are one of the most vital nutrients required by your body and must be consumed daily.
What Are the Different Types of Proteins?
• Complete proteins: These come from animal products such as beef, chicken, fish, bison, venison, turkey, pork, and duck. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids needed for health and body functions.
• Incomplete proteins: These are found in nuts, grains, vegetables, and beans, supplying a limited amount of amino acids. Incomplete proteins must be eaten in larger amounts and combinations for you to obtain all the protein you need for health and body functions.
Daily Protein Requirements for Average Person
If you’re an average person at an average weight leading an average sedentary life, the DRI (dietary reference intake) for protein is 56-91 grams for males, per day, and 46-75 grams for females, per day.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “increasing protein intake to 20 to 25 percent in healthy people can reduce the risk of heart disease if the extra protein replaces refined carbohydrates.” 
Cutting back on highly processed carbohydrates while increasing protein intake improves levels of blood triglycerides and HDL – possibly decreasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
Protein for weight loss, muscle gain and athletic activities
Since your muscles are largely made of protein, it only makes sense to have more if you are or planning on gaining more muscle and strength . In addition, people who want to sustain their muscle mass while wanting to lose body fat, can increase their protein intake to prevent muscle loss and reach their goals .
Most experts recommend consuming 1 gram of protein per pound body weight (2.2 grams of protein for each kg of your body weight). Therefore, sticking to the 0.8 grams per pound is obsolete in this regard.
In summary, if you run, walk, swim or do any type of exercise – a lot, or if you have a physically demanding job, you need to up your protein game .
The daily recommended RDA for protein (.8 grams per kilogram of body weight) may be adequate for aging adults. Currently, the RDA doesn’t promote optimal health or protection for the aging from sarcopenic muscle loss (loss of function and muscle with aging). It is now recommended by experts that older adults need 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight).
Protein requirements are significantly increased in the physically fit, those recovering from injury or surgery, and the aging adults. Aging adults also need help with maintaining muscle mass.
Can Vegetarians Eat Enough Protein?
Vegetarians can up their protein intake and reach their protein requirement by consuming vegetables, lentils, beans, and brown rice. Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians and vegans can consume a complete protein meal because unlike in the case of meat, the vegetarian protein options are vast. We highly recommend quinoa, it’s the only grain (well, pseudo-grain) that provides all essential amino acids required by the protein body.
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1. The Nutrition Source: Protein. Harvard School of Public Health
2. Dietary protein to maximize resistance training: a review and examination of protein spread and change theories. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition20129:42 DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-42
3. Effects of 4 weight-loss diets differing in fat, protein, and carbohydrate on fat mass, lean mass, visceral adipose tissue, and hepatic fat: results from the POUNDS LOST trial. 2012 American Society for Nutrition
4. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to metabolic advantage. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2006 Dec;31(6):647-54.