How Much Protein Do I Need?

Protein is essential for good health. As one of the main macronutrient our body needs to function, we need to make sure we are including an optimal amount of protein in our diets. According to the National Institutes of Health, the macromolecule of protein is composed of monomers of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds.

Based on the Dietary Reference Intakes, the recommended amount of protein needed for a healthy adult with minimal physical activity is currently 0.8 g protein per kg body weight (BW) per day. In order to maintain an optimal nutrition that allows for the promotion of muscle growth and increased strength, dietary intake of protein should include 1.0 g for minimal, 1.3 g for moderate, and 1.6 g for intense physical activity. The consumption of up to 2 g of protein per kg BW per day is safe for healthy adults.

According to Wu, the overconsumption of protein in an amount greater than 2 g per kg BW per day for adults "may result in digestive, renal, and vascular abnormalities and should be avoided." While the potential dangers of protein undernutrition include "stunting, anemia, physical weakness, edema, vascular dysfunction, and impaired immunity." 

Yet, not all sources of protein are created equally. The nutrtitional value and amount of protein varies throughout different food sources. Therefore, consumption of protein rich foods is essential in order to achieve ideal human health and development. Although this is easier to accomplish with an omnivore diet, this can also be achieved with vegan, vegetarian, and other diets that do not incude the consumption of meats.