Often revered as the most important nutrient, protein facilitates several processes that allow the body to function properly. It is composed of building blocks called amino acids that are used to make enzymes and hormones, as well as repair and grow cells, such as those found in muscle and bone tissue. Protein is essential to your health, whether you are young or old, active or inactive. Protein deficiency can cause wasting of muscle tissue, oedema, anemia, and in the case of children, slow growth.
Sufficient protein intake is particularly important for those who participate in strenuous physical activity and those over 50 years of age. Exercise places stress on the body’s muscle tissue that is then repaired by proteins. Those advanced in years are commonly affected by sarcopenia, the gradual loss of skeletal muscle. In both cases, adequate protein intake in conjunction with appropriate exercise is very beneficial.
So, how much protein should you consume per day? The generally recommended daily protein intake is 0.7 - 1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you have a lean body composition, stick around the higher end of that spectrum; if you have a body composition that is less lean, stick to the lower end. There is no need to eat much more than the recommended daily intake of protein; muscle growth is the result of adequate protein consumption and exercise, not excessive intake.
If you are not sure how much protein you are eating per day, take the time to track your food. This step can be particularly eye-opening and may lead to changes that will drastically improve your health and fitness. Food tracking apps (such as MyFitnessPal) have made this process very simple and we recommend you try one out if you have not before. If you need help, reach out to a coach, too. We are always happy to help!