How much protein should i eat calculator? That is a question that confronts many people who are watching what they eat. Maintaining adequate protein intake is essential to health, as well as muscle growth and development. However, it can be challenging to figure out how much protein your body needs, because it depends on countless factors.
A protein calculator that lets you find out how much protein, fat and carbs you should eat in your daily diet and how much weight you want to lose.
The Protein Calculator estimates the daily amount of dietary protein adults require to remain healthy. Children, those who are highly physically active, and pregnant and nursing women typically require more protein. The calculator is also useful for monitoring protein intake for those with kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, or other conditions in which protein intake is a factor.
What are proteins?
Proteins are one of three primary macronutrients that provide energy to the human body, along with fats and carbohydrates. Proteins are also responsible for a large portion of the work that is done in cells; they are necessary for proper structure and function of tissues and organs, and also act to regulate them. They are comprised of a number of amino acids that are essential to proper body function, and serve as the building blocks of body tissue.
There are 20 different amino acids in total, and the sequence of amino acids determines a protein’s structure and function. While some amino acids can be synthesized in the body, there are 9 amino acids that humans can only obtain from dietary sources (insufficient amounts of which may sometimes result in death), termed essential amino acids. Foods that provide all of the essential amino acids are called complete protein sources, and include both animal (meat, dairy, eggs, fish) as well as plant-based sources (soy, quinoa, buckwheat).
Proteins can be categorized based on the function they provide to the body. Below is a list of some types of proteins:
- Antibody—proteins that protect the body from foreign particles, such as viruses and bacteria, by binding to them
- Enzyme—proteins that help form new molecules as well as perform the many chemical reactions that occur throughout the body
- Messenger—proteins that transmit signals throughout the body to maintain body processes
- Structural component—proteins that act as building blocks for cells that ultimately allow the body to move
- Transport/storage—proteins that move molecules throughout the body
As can be seen, proteins have many important roles throughout the body, and as such, it is important to provide sufficient nutrition to the body to maintain healthy protein levels.
How much protein do I need?
The amount of protein that the human body requires daily is dependent on many conditions, including overall energy intake, growth of the individual, and physical activity level. It is often estimated based on body weight, as a percentage of total caloric intake (10-35%), or based on age alone. 0.8g/kg of body weight is a commonly cited recommended dietary allowance (RDA). This value is the minimum recommended value to maintain basic nutritional requirements, but consuming more protein, up to a certain point, maybe beneficial, depending on the sources of the protein.
The recommended range of protein intake is between 0.8 g/kg and 1.8 g/kg of body weight, dependent on the many factors listed above. People who are highly active, or who wish to build more muscle should generally consume more protein. Some sources suggest consuming between 1.8 to 2 g/kg for those who are highly active. The amount of protein a person should consume, to date, is not an exact science, and each individual should consult a specialist, be it a dietitian, doctor, or personal trainer, to help determine their individual needs.
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein, based on age
|Protein Needed (grams/day)|
|Age 1 – 3||13|
|Age 4 – 8||19|
|Age 9 – 13||34|
|Age 14 – 18 (Girls)||46|
|Age 14 – 18 (Boys)||52|
|Age 19 – 70+ (Women)||46|
|Age 19 – 70+ (Men)||56|
Extra Protein Requirements for Pregnancy and Lactation
(grams / day)
|Protein : energy|
|Pregnancy trimester 1||1||375||0.04|
|Pregnancy trimester 2||10||1,200||0.11|
|Pregnancy trimester 3||31||1,950||0.23|
|Lactation First 6 months||19||2,800||0.11|
|Lactation After 6 months||13||1,925||0.11|
According to the National Academy of Medicine
- All adults must consume at least 0.8 grams of protein daily per 2.2 pounds of their body weight.
- This is the amount of protein required for a sedentary lifestyle (those who do little to no exercise including desk job employees).
- Thus, for an adult who weighs 132 pounds and has a sedentary lifestyle, their protein requirement will be equal to 48 grams of protein a day (0.8 × 132/2.2).
The requirement will fluctuate if you are an athlete, pregnant, recovering from an illness, attempting weight loss, or a teenager. Certain conditions, such as kidney disease, may require you to lower your protein intake, while others may require a high protein intake.
Calculate protein requirement by weight
Another way to calculate your minimum daily protein requirement is by:
- Dividing your weight into pounds by 20 and multiplying it by seven.
- You need just a little more than seven grams of protein for every 20 pounds of your body weight.
- Thus, for someone weighing 200 pounds, the protein requirement will be 70 grams each day.
- You can also determine your protein requirement by multiplying your weight in pounds by 0.36.
- Thus, for an adult weighing 150 pounds, the approximate protein requirement will be 54 grams.
Calculate protein requirement by calorie intake
Another way to calculate your daily protein requirement is by knowing how many calories you need in a day.
- The National Academy of Medicine recommends that an individual can get anywhere from 10 to 35 percent of calories each day from protein.
- One gram of protein gives four kilocalories.
- Thus, a person consuming 2000 calories a day can derive 200 to 700 calories from protein.
- This means they can eat about 50 to 125 grams of protein a day.
Alternatively, to know your dietary reference intakes (DRI) for protein needs, calculate on the available online tool, DRI Calculator for Healthcare Professionals, which is developed by the US Department of Agriculture.
It must be noted that these protein requirements are approximations. They do not consider special situations, such as your health goals (weight loss or gain), pregnancy, lactation, underlying health conditions (such as kidney diseases), and athletic activity level. To know your individualized protein requirement, you must discuss it with a qualified dietician.
Protein requirement chart
Here is a chart concerning the approximated amount of protein needed per day according to your activity level:
|Body weight (lbs)||Low to moderate exercise||Moderate mixed exercise||Intense endurance exercise||Intense resistance exercise||Extreme intense exercise|
|88 – 132||32g – 48g||40g – 60g||52g – 78g||68g – 102g||>88g – 132g|
|133 – 176||48g – 64g||60g – 80g||78g – 104g||102g – 136g||>132g – 176g|
|177 – 220||64g – 80g||80g – 100g||104g – 130g||136g – 170g||>176g – 220g|
How to get enough protein in your diet
The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products, as they have all the essential amino acids that your body needs.
Some plants are fairly high in protein as well, such as quinoa, legumes, and nuts.
However, most people generally don’t need to track their protein intake.
If you’re healthy and trying to stay that way, simply eating quality protein sources with most of your meals, along with nutritious plant foods, should bring your intake to an optimal range.
What “grams of protein” really means
This is a very common area of misunderstanding.
In nutrition science, “grams of protein” refers to the number of grams of the macronutrient protein, not the number of grams of a protein-containing food like meat or eggs.
An 8-ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams but only contains 61 grams of protein. Similarly, a large egg weighs 46 grams but only packs 6 grams of protein.
What about the average person?
If you’re at a healthy weight, don’t lift weights, and don’t exercise much, aiming for 0.36–0.6 grams per pound (0.8–1.3 gram per kg) is a reasonable estimate.
This amounts to:
- 56–91 grams per day for the average male
- 46–75 grams per day for the average female
Still, given that there’s no evidence of harm and significant evidence of benefit, it’s likely better for most people to err on the side of consuming more protein rather than less.
How Much Is Too Much Protein?
Eating too much protein can mean missing out on nutrients from carbohydrates (like fiber) and healthy fats. That’s why experts say to stick to eating about one-third of your daily calories from protein, and to keep to a rough daily maximum of 2 grams/kilogram body weight. That’s about 140 to 160 grams per day. Overconsuming certain sources of protein—we’re looking at you, red meat—has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, so vary your protein sources for the most benefit.
Also, don’t worry about your protein intake putting you at risk of kidney stones or osteoporosis. (The concern: digestion of protein releases acids that need to be neutralized by calcium—which may be pulled from bones.) In fact, recent research has found that eating in the higher recommended range may be beneficial for bone health, especially when you’re eating enough calcium. And unless you have kidney disease, your protein intake is unlikely to cause harm.
Here’s a look at specific factors that impact your protein needs:
Since protein isn’t one-size-fits all, there are certain groups that need more and may have a harder time getting enough.
You’re a Vegetarian or Vegan
Good news for those forgoing animal products: If you’re eating enough calories, opting for a plant-based diet doesn’t automatically mean you’re not consuming enough protein. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the terms “complete” and “incomplete” protein are misleading. “Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when caloric requirements are met,” the Academy said in a 2016 position statement.
Vegetarians and vegans may need to pay a bit more attention to what foods give them the best protein-for-calorie value than the average meat-eater, but eating a varied diet that includes protein-rich legumes and soy will keep your body and muscles humming along just fine.
Other great vegetarian sources of protein: eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, quinoa and peanut butter. See our Top Vegetarian Protein Sources if you need help eating more protein. Vegans, read up on our Top 10 Vegan Protein Sources.
Protein isn’t just a concern for the shake-guzzling bodybuilder wanting to build muscle—or the elite distance runner trying to keep it. Adequate protein is needed at all levels of fitness.
The IOM’s guidelines were based on studies in sedentary individuals. The American College of Sports Medicine and the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommend aiming for more protein if you’re active, up to 2 grams/kilograms of body weight each day to maintain muscle mass. While keeping protein within 10% to 35% of your daily calories still applies, experts recommend consuming 15 to 25 grams of protein within an hour post-workout (an example is 1 cup of milk, 1 ounce almonds and 5 dried apricots) to maximize results.
Does more protein equal better results? Not so, says current research, which suggests that benefits level off after recommended intakes. “It’s kind of like adding laundry detergent to your clothes—it’s not going to get them cleaner—but having the right amount, at the right time, is important,” Crandall says.
Plus, the type of protein you choose could give you an athletic edge.
Foods high in a specific amino acid—the building blocks of protein—called leucine may be most effective for the maintenance, repair and growth of muscle. High-leucine foods include milk, soybeans, salmon, beef, chicken, eggs and nuts like peanuts. While you should strive to meet your protein needs from food, whey protein supplements are also high in leucine and are a research-backed option.
You’re Over 65
As we age, our bodies become less efficient at transforming the protein we eat into new muscle. The result is gradual muscle loss that can lead to decreased strength, frailty and loss of mobility. But you can give Father Time a one-two punch by staying active and eating enough protein.
Two international study groups recommend that older individuals eat like young athletes: Keep your minimum daily protein intake to 1 gram/kilogram of body weight (68 grams and 80 grams for a 150-pound woman and a 180-pound man, respectively). And spread out your protein—about 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal—since the amount of protein needed to trigger muscle maintenance is higher. Men and women aged 67 to 84 who ate the most protein and had the most even distribution across meals over two years had more muscle than those who fell short, per a 2016 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.
You’re Pregnant or Breastfeeding
“Protein needs rise a minimum of 10 grams per day during the second and third trimesters because your baby is growing—and it needs the tools to grow,” says Rachel Brandeis M.S., RDN, who specializes in pregnancy nutrition. The IOM recommends that pregnant women eat a minimum of 1.1 grams protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or around 70 grams total.
Recent research suggests pregnancy protein needs may be slightly higher than these previous estimates, however, so it’s best to check in with a doctor or registered dietitian to see how much protein is right for you.
As for breastfeeding mothers, your body will need more calories and protein to make enough milk. See our guide for what to eat when you’re breastfeeding to make sure you’re getting enough of both to support your body and your baby.