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How much protein do you need per day?

Protein, also known as protein, together with carbohydrates and fat are the most important nutrients for your body. Proteins play an enormously important role in bodily processes. Whether you want to build muscle mass or lose weight, consuming enough protein is crucial.

But, how much protein do you need per day? And is there such a thing as eating too much protein? Read on below and discover the answers to your questions!

Proteins and amino acids

Proteins, like carbohydrates, contain 4 kilocalories per gram. This is used to provide your body with sufficient energy. But proteins are used for much more than just energy. After consumption, proteins are converted into amino acids. These amino acids are indispensable for important processes, such as the creation and repair of body cells, and the regulation of hormones.

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In total there are 22 different amino acids, of which the body can make 13 itself. These are also called non-essential amino acids. So you don't necessarily have to eat proteins to make these amino acids. Of these non-essential amino acids, 6 are considered semi-essential amino acids. These can usually be sufficiently produced by the body itself, with the exception of a few uncommon situations.

The other 9 amino acids cannot be produced by the body. These are the essential amino acids. However, your body does need these amino acids. This means that you must get these amino acids from protein-rich foods. However, not all proteins contain the same amino acids. This is determined by the quality of the protein.

Essential Semi-essential Not essential
Histidine arginine Alanine
isoleucine Asparagine Aspartic Acid
Leucine glutamine cysteine
Lysine Glycine cystine
methionine serine glutamic acid
phenylalanine proline Tyrosine
Threonine Hydroxyproline

Types of proteins

In order to determine the quality of a protein, it is important to distinguish between the different types of proteins. When it comes to proteins, people almost always first think of, you guessed it, the protein of an egg. But there are countless sources of protein, all with different properties. To determine which proteins are the best, we will explain the difference in types of proteins below.

Animal proteins

First of all, there are animal proteins. These proteins can be found in animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and milk products including cheese and whey. Animal products are usually richer in protein than vegetable products. They also usually contain more essential amino acids than vegetable products. This makes it an ideal source of high-quality protein.

Vegetable proteins

Yet you will also find proteins in sufficient vegetable products, so-called vegetable proteins. Think of products such as rice, pasta, bread, nuts, and legumes. Vegetable proteins can sometimes be lacking in essential amino acids and in some cases are more difficult to digest. If you are vegetarian or vegan, getting enough proteins and complete amino acids is a bit more difficult, but certainly not impossible. Soy in particular is very popular because it contains all the essential amino acids.

So, how much protein do you need per day?

Now that you know which proteins there are and from which products you can get them, it is important to answer the pressing question: How much protein do you need per day? For the average person, a daily average of about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is taken. For example, if you weigh 70 kilograms, you will need to consume about 56 grams of protein per day. However, this number may differ depending on your goal. Below we explain the ideal protein intake for specific goals.

Lose weight with proteins

Eating enough protein can help a lot if you want to lose weight. This is mainly because protein, especially the animal variant, gives a more satiated feeling than carbohydrates and fats. This means that eating a lot of protein will probably make you less hungry and therefore less likely to overeat.

In addition, the thermogenic effect of proteins (±15-30%) is greater than with carbohydrates (±5-10%) and fats (±0-3%). The thermogenic effect indicates how much energy is needed to digest and absorb the food. Although proteins contain the same amount of energy per gram as carbohydrates, there is ultimately less energy left after digestion. As a result, you will sooner fall below your daily calorie requirement and therefore lose weight.

How much protein do you need per day to lose weight? To lose weight, it is fine to start from the daily recommended protein intake of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, given the aforementioned benefits of eating protein, it's fine to consume larger amounts as well. Just make sure to maintain a balanced diet. Protein can help with weight loss, but a varied diet is just as important.

Proteins for muscle building

If you do a lot of fitness or bodybuilding and your main goal is muscle growth, then you need a little more protein. This has to do with the crucial role of proteins in muscle building. Scientific research has shown that the ideal daily amount of protein for athletes is between 1.2 and 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. This is, of course, a fairly broad guideline. We, therefore, advise you to calculate more towards the middle of the upper limit. You may now be wondering: can I eat too much protein and is that bad? Don't worry, we'll answer this later too.

In addition, studies also indicate that proteins from dairy, such as whey, for example, contribute the most to muscle growth. This has to do with the amino acid profile. Animal protein contains all essential amino acids and therefore has a complete amino acid profile. So take this into account when determining your protein sources to maximize muscle building. A balanced diet usually provides sufficient protein, so supplements are usually not necessary.

However, using whey can have a positive effect on muscle building. Especially if you have trouble getting the recommended amount of protein, whey is an excellent addition to your diet. There are also vegetable protein powders for vegetarians and vegans, although they are not quite comparable to whey. If you go for a vegetable protein powder, choose one based on soy. Soy also contains all 9 essential amino acids. This way you ensure that your muscles have all the building blocks for maximum growth.

Protein and pregnancy

As with almost everything related to nutrition, there is also adapted advice for pregnant women for protein intake. Scientific research has shown that an increased protein intake may reduce the risk of intrauterine growth retardation, i.e. a baby that is too small. It is recommended to increase the daily protein intake to 1.2 to 1.52 grams per kilogram of body weight between weeks 16 and 36 of pregnancy. However, we cannot provide personal medical advice. Therefore, make sure that you always discuss changes to your diet with your midwife first.

The maximum amount of protein per day

Now that you know how much protein you need per day, one question remains. Is there such a thing as too much protein? In short, yes. As with almost everything, too much is not good. However, the answer is a bit more complicated. Because what exactly is too much? It depends on. Studies show that not so much the amount of protein, but the ratio of proteins to your total diet is decisive.

Extremely high-protein diets often lack other important nutrients due to the high amount of protein. This can cause complaints to, among other things, joints, kidneys, and liver. Also, excessive consumption of certain protein-rich products, such as red meat, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and possibly even cancer. However, this is not due to the proteins, but to a large amount of saturated fat present in these products.

In short, too much of something is almost never good. So, for example, don't get carried away by hypes about extremely protein-rich diets. In order to consume too much protein, you have to go crazy anyway. Based on scientific studies, we recommend that you stay below 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. As long as you eat a varied diet and maintain a balanced diet, you will not easily go wrong.

We only use qualitative sources, such as scientific (meta) studies, to provide the most accurate and reliable advice possible. Although our articles are factually substantiated, we always recommend that you contact a doctor or specialist in case of complaints.
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