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Here’s Exactly How Much Protein You Should Be Eating Every Day

Protein. These days it feels like the word that begins and ends all things. (What are you eating? Protein. What’s your secret for losing weight? Protein. How was your weekend? Protein.)

“Protein is an essential nutrient that builds and repairs tissues including skin and muscle, and also and makes hormones and enzymes,” says Barbie Boules, a registered dietitian in Illinois. So yeah. There’s a reason why we should be eating it.

But in a land of Whole30 challenges and keto diets, how much protein should you actually be eating? Boules says it’s a question she gets all the time.

Unfortunately, it’s an answer that requires some math (I know, I’m sorry!). That’s because it’s not a fixed number. Claire Martin, co-founder of Being Healthfull, says the RDA (recommended daily value for protein intake) is about 0.36 per boy weight pound (or 0.8 grams per body weight kilo).

READ MORE: 20 High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Foods Everyone Should Be Eating

Meaning…if you weigh 63.5 kilos, then you should be eating 50 grams of protein daily.

protein

However, that protein number is a variable that depends on your health and fitness needs, Martin says. For example, if you are exercising and trying to lose weight, then Martin says she would increase protein intake to about 0.5 grams per current pound of body weight (or 1.1 grams per current kilos of body weight). So for 63.5 kilos, that protein RDA goes up to 70 grams per day.

On the other hand, people hoping to lose weight and see muscle gain can increase protein intake to between 0.8 grams and 1 gram of protein for every 1 gram of bodyweight, Martin says. Otherwise, you won’t see muscle gains.

READ MORE: 5 Foods You Won’t Believe Contain More Protein Than An Egg

This is where supplemental protein (powders, bars, etc.) might come into play, Boules says. If you are very physically active (e.g. a marathon runner or extreme sports participant) or aren’t getting an ample amount or protein from foods, then you might want to try a powdered supplement made from pure protein with no additives or sugar that can be added to a daily beverage.

In general though, Boules advises sticking to whole food sources of protein, like lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and grains. She likes a balance of 50 percent carbs (1/2 from starches and 1/2 from fruits and veggies), 25 percent healthy fats, and 25 percent lean protein for most meals. “This is not perfect for everyone, but merely a general guideline,” Boules says.

The bottom line: Get your daily protein intake (at least 0.8 times your body weight) from whole food sources where possible, and

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“I Cut Out Everything And Only Ate Protein — This Is What Happened”

This eating plan will blow your mind!

We’re easy to spot. We’re the ones with plastic beakers in our bags, empty save for a pile of powder at the bottom. Our freezers are jammed full of pre-portioned chicken breasts. And come mid-afternoon, we’re tucking in to our second hard-boiled egg of the day. It’s a diet once associated with bodybuilders and elite athletes. We’re neither. But we have earned ourselves a less comfortable moniker: “protorexics”. The term refers to those who rely on lots of protein while avoiding carbs to control weight and fuel workouts.

My obsession with the much-loved macro

Two years ago, after joining the gym in the hope of losing my stomach paunch, I began chugging on protein shakes at the behest of my PT. At first, I found that a pre-workout shake upped my stamina and killed my hunger. So I started subbing one in for breakfast.

Soon, as I became more interested in how protein could fuel my training – and the inevitable flip side: how carbs could be hindering my results – every meal became based around it. Eggs for breakfast, lunches involving packets of cooked chicken slices and the strict rule that at least half of my dinner plate was protein. An inevitable part of the process was that carbs were all but banished from my diet, bar the odd oat biscuit or Sunday roast.

READ MORE: “I Tried Drinking Plant-Based Protein Shakes After Every Workout”

I shrank from a size 14 to a 10 within six months and went from pull-up virgin to smashing six sets. No complaints. Except the good times don’t always last. Which is why, a couple of months ago, I ended up at the door of personal trainer and sports nutritionist David Arnot. I’d hit a fitness plateau and had gone, I suppose, looking for answers – armed with what I’d thought was my exemplary eating plan.

My eating plan

6:45am Protein bar
9:30am Handful pistachio nuts
10:30am Boiled egg with smoked salmon and spinach
11:30am Half a protein bar
12:30pm Tinned tuna, salad
2pm Half a protein bar
3:30pm Protein shake
4:30pm Greek yoghurt with protein powder
6:15pm Half a protein bar
7:30pm Grilled salmon with stir-fried veg
10:15pm Greek yoghurt with half a protein bar

READ MORE: 5 Foods You Won’t Believe Contain More Protein Than An Egg

My nutritionist’s verdict?

He’d never seen anyone with my sort of exercise regime eat as few carbs as I did. That was to blame for my lack of fitness gains. And he also pointed to a few other issues – my struggle to focus at work and generally being so knackered by the end of the day that I rarely have the energy or inclination to catch up with friends. When I revealed that each evening my husband cooks two different meals – a regular version for him, a carb-free version for me – Arnot began to shake his head.

He broke down the stats for me: by the time I flop into bed, I’ve consumed more than 150g of the magical macro, which means I’m getting through about 2.5g per kilogram of my body weight.

READ MORE: 3 Signs You Need To Incorporate More Cabs In Your Diet

According to Dr Duane Mellor of the British Dietetic Association, that’s far too much: “We advise adults to eat around 0.75g per kilogram of body weight daily to get the necessary benefits of protein, which includes building lean muscle mass, aiding digestion, regulating nutrient absorption and removal of waste.”

Arguably, I could get away with totting up a little more than this as I clock up between five and seven workouts a week, but I’m still way over the mark. Sports and exercise nutritionist James Collins recommends aiming for something between 1.2g and 1.6g per kilogram of body weight, but warns an intake of more than 2g can do more harm than good. (Think: hormonal imbalances, high cholesterol, exacerbation of existing kidney problems, chronic dehydration, weight gain…)

READ MORE: “I Tried HIIT Training For 3 Months – This Is What I Learnt”

Arnot’s proposed eating plan

8:30am Porridge with low-fat milk
10:30am Apple, handful cashews
12:30pm Chicken with ratatouille and 125g brown rice
2pm Biltong or 1 protein bar
7:30pm Red meat/fish with green veg and sweet potato
10:15pm Handful granola, yoghurt, honey and berries

The last word…

“Nobody’s denying how important protein is,” Arnot says. “But the message has become misunderstood and carbs have become demonised in the process. So I see lots of carb-phobic women eating so much more protein than is necessary. What they often don’t realise is that kilojoules from protein aren’t used as efficiently for energy as kilojoules from carbs because they can’t be oxidised quickly enough to meet the demands of high-intensity exercise. The fixation on pre- and post-training protein means many aren’t getting the most out of their workouts.” Arnot agreed to devise a personalised 10-day eating plan for me to follow without leading me into a kilojoule surplus. Meaning? More carbs, less protein equals more energy, no weight gain. I’ll eat to that.

“I Cut Out Everything And Only Ate Protein — This Is What Happened”

This eating plan will blow your mind!

We’re easy to spot. We’re the ones with plastic beakers in our bags, empty save for a pile of powder at the bottom. Our freezers are jammed full of pre-portioned chicken breasts. And come mid-afternoon, we’re tucking in to our second hard-boiled egg of the day. It’s a diet once associated with bodybuilders and elite athletes. We’re neither. But we have earned ourselves a less comfortable moniker: “protorexics”. The term refers to those who rely on lots of protein while avoiding carbs to control weight and fuel workouts.

My obsession with the much-loved macro

Two years ago, after joining the gym in the hope of losing my stomach paunch, I began chugging on protein shakes at the behest of my PT. At first, I found that a pre-workout shake upped my stamina and killed my hunger. So I started subbing one in for breakfast.

Soon, as I became more interested in how protein could fuel my training – and the inevitable flip side: how carbs could be hindering my results – every meal became based around it. Eggs for breakfast, lunches involving packets of cooked chicken slices and the strict rule that at least half of my dinner plate was protein. An inevitable part of the process was that carbs were all but banished from my diet, bar the odd oat biscuit or Sunday roast.

I shrank from a size 14 to a 10 within six months and went from pull-up virgin to smashing six sets. No complaints. Except the good times don’t always last. Which is why, a couple of months ago, I ended up at the door of personal trainer and sports nutritionist David Arnot. I’d hit a fitness plateau and had gone, I suppose, looking for answers – armed with what I’d thought was my exemplary eating plan.

My eating plan

6:45am Protein bar
9:30am Handful pistachio nuts
10:30am Boiled egg with smoked salmon and spinach
11:30am Half a protein bar
12:30pm Tinned tuna, salad
2pm Half a protein bar
3:30pm Protein shake
4:30pm Greek yoghurt with protein powder
6:15pm Half a protein bar
7:30pm Grilled salmon with stir-fried veg
10:15pm Greek yoghurt with half a protein bar

My nutritionist’s verdict?

He’d never seen anyone with my sort of exercise regime eat as few carbs as I did. That was to blame for my lack of fitness gains. And he also pointed to a few other issues – my struggle to focus at work and generally being so knackered by the end of the day that I rarely have the energy or inclination to catch up with friends. When I revealed that each evening my husband cooks two different meals – a regular version for him, a carb-free version for me – Arnot began to shake his head.

He broke down the stats for me: by the time I flop into bed, I’ve consumed more than 150g of the magical macro, which means I’m getting through about 2.5g per kilogram of my body weight.

According to Dr Duane Mellor of the British Dietetic Association, that’s far too much: “We advise adults to eat around 0.75g per kilogram of body weight daily to get the necessary benefits of protein, which includes building lean muscle mass, aiding digestion, regulating nutrient absorption and removal of waste.”

Arguably, I could get away with totting up a little more than this as I clock up between five and seven workouts a week, but I’m still way over the mark. Sports and exercise nutritionist James Collins recommends aiming for something between 1.2g and 1.6g per kilogram of body weight, but warns an intake of more than 2g can do more harm than good. (Think: hormonal imbalances, high cholesterol, exacerbation of existing kidney problems, chronic dehydration, weight gain…)

Arnot’s proposed eating plan

8:30am Porridge with low-fat milk
10:30am Apple, handful cashews
12:30pm Chicken with ratatouille and 125g brown rice
2pm Biltong or 1 protein bar
7:30pm Red meat/fish with green veg and sweet potato
10:15pm Handful granola, yoghurt, honey and berries

The last word…

“Nobody’s denying how important protein is,” Arnot says. “But the message has become misunderstood and carbs have become demonised in the process. So I see lots of carb-phobic women eating so much more protein than is necessary. What they often don’t realise is that kilojoules from protein aren’t used as efficiently for energy as kilojoules from carbs because they can’t be oxidised quickly enough to meet the demands of high-intensity exercise. The fixation on pre- and post-training protein means many aren’t getting the most out of their workouts.” Arnot agreed to devise a personalised 10-day eating plan for me to follow without leading me into a kilojoule surplus. Meaning? More carbs, less protein equals more energy, no weight gain. I’ll eat to that.

4 Quick Protein-Powered Meals That Take Eggs WAY Beyond Breakfast

A twist on breakfast for supper!

Eggs are a perfect package of protein that can be turned into a satisfying supper in minutes. With a box of eggs, a baguette and these four recipes, you’ll be fuelling up in style…

1. Goat’s cheese and fresh herb omelette

This omelette method is by no means classic, but it’s straightforward and delivers a crisp, golden exterior that becomes light and fluffy and then meltingly oozy towards the centre. Note: don’t season with salt too early on, use a good quality non-stick pan and get a handle on your heat source.

You’ll need:
2 eggs
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp butter
Sea salt flakes
25g chevin (soft goat’s milk cheese)
1 tsp chives, finely snipped
1 tsp parsley, finely chopped

To serve:
Slices of toasted baguette (optional)

Method:
1/ Lightly whisk the eggs, water and milk to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
2/ Have the cheese, herbs and egg mixture ready.
3/ Add the butter to a 19cm-diameter nonstick pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter begins to bubble and foam.
4/ Give the eggs another good whisk until frothy and pour into the pan – the edges should start to set immediately.
5/ Cook the omelette for one to one and a half minutes – by this stage there should be bubbling on the underside.
6/ Season the face of the omelette with salt, then crumble over the cheese and sprinkle with herbs. The omelette should be mostly set in the middle (still wobbly but not runny).
7/ Using a flexible spatula, release the edges of the omelette. Flip over and slide onto a warmed plate. The whole process should have taken a total of four minutes. Eat immediately.

Serves 1. Per 193 serving: 961kJ, 16g fat (7g sat), 1 820mg sodium, 4g carbs, 1g fibre, 3g sugars, 19g protein

Cook’s note: Add seasonal soft herbs, like chervil or tarragon.

2. Egg-enriched Garlicky chicken soup

To enjoy this soup, you must love garlic. It’s both cleansing and comforting with hot, garlicky broth thickened by the softening toast and broken yolk. The freshest garlic, home-made chicken stock, an artisan loaf and good 0quality extravirgin olive oil make all the difference. With thanks to David Tanis and Lulu Peyraud.

You’ll need:
300ml home-made chicken stock (see recipe)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 egg
1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 slices baguette, toasted
1 small spring onion, white and pale green parts only, finely sliced
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

For the stock:
1 roast chicken carcass or a pack of chicken wings
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery stick, halved
1 onion, halved
Handful of parsley (if available)
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns

Method:
1/ To make the stock, add all stock ingredients to a pot, cover with cold water and slowly bring to the boil over medium heat, skimming off any foamy scum that rises to the surface. Just as it’s about to come to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for one and a half hours. Drain and cool. Refrigerate and remove any solidified fat on the surface.
2/ Peel the garlic cloves, place on a board and chop roughly. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and, using the side of a knife blade, crush and smear the garlic until it resembles a paste.
3/ Add the chicken stock to a pot and bring to the boil. Add the garlic and bay leaf, turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes.
4/ Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the egg until crisp around the edges and the yolk is just set.
5/ Place the toast in a warmed bowl, place the egg on top and ladle the broth all around. Sprinkle with spring onions, season and eat immediately.

Serves 1. Per 401g serving: 1 296kJ, 11g fat (3g sat), 2 290mg sodium, 35g carbs, 2g fibre, 5g sugars, 19g protein

3. Baked eggs

What you add to your baked egg depends on what you have in your cupboard (see our suggestions). Baking it in a water bath gives a custardy texture.

You’ll need:
1 egg
2 tsp fresh cream
1 sprig thyme
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
Thin slices of toasted baguette

Method:
1/ Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2/ Spoon the cream into a small gratin dish, ramekin or teacup and add the herbs.
3/ Break an egg into the dish and season with salt.
4/ Place the dish into a larger, shallow bowl and fill the bowl with boiling water so the water level comes two-thirds of the way up the sides of the egg dish.
5/ Bake for seven to eight minutes or until the white is cooked and the yolk still slightly runny. Season with pepper and serve with toast fingers for dipping.

Serves 1. Per 68g serving: 284kJ, 6g fat (1.5g sat), 1 640mg sodium, 3g carbs, 1g fibre, 0g sugars, 7g protein 126

Just add this:
Before adding the egg, cover the bottom of the baking dish with half a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 20g feta and a pinch of finely-snipped fresh dill. Line the sides of a buttered dish with a slice of Black Forest ham before adding two teaspoons of cream, a sprinkling of chives and the egg.

4. Egg and bacon salad

If you feel more comfortable with boiling than poaching, this salad works with a soft-boiled egg too – the important part is the runny yolk, which combines with the dressing on eating.

You’ll need:
3 large handfuls salad leaves
2 rashers thinly-sliced back bacon or Parma ham (we used Bosman’s Real Bacon)
1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 poached egg

For the dressing:
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

To serve:
Fresh baguette (optional)

Method:
1/ For the dressing, roughly chop the garlic on a board, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and crush to a paste using the side of a knife blade. Scrape into a jar, add the red wine vinegar and shake well. Add the mustard and olive oil and shake until creamy and well combined.
2/ Wash and drain the leaves, dry well in a salad spinner and spread out on a clean tea towel.
3/ Heat the olive oil in a small pan, fry the bacon until crisp, drain on a plate lined with paper towel and chop or crumble into pieces.
4/ Add the bacon to the leaves, add two tablespoons of dressing and toss well.
5/ Place the poached egg on top, season generously and eat immediately, using the bread to mop up any remaining dressing.

Serves 1. Per 107g serving: 1 588kJ, 35g fat (7g sat), 2 120mg sodium, 3g carbs, 1g fibre, 0g sugars, 13g protein

Cook’s note:
When making the salad in larger quantities, eliminate the oil by lining a baking sheet with baking paper, arranging the bacon on top and baking on the middle rack of an oven (preheated to 180°C) for 15 minutes.

13 Foods With More Protein Than An Egg

Eggs are the poster child for protein—they’re cheap AF, versatile, vegetarian, and pack in six grams of protein (per large egg, that is). Not too shabby, eh?

But honestly, how many more hard-boiled eggs can you eat before you start to snore mid-bite? Time to broaden your horizons with these high-protein foods that have even more protein per serving than an egg:

1. Dried Spirulina

Protein: 8 grams per 2-tablespoon serving

Fish aren’t the only high-protein food you can find in the ocean—spirulina (powdered algae or seaweed) is surprisingly full of protein. Hint: Try sprinkling spirulina over a salad, or use it to season roasted vegetables. (Spirulina powder also can turn your boring smoothie blue.) Feel Free to Order it Online HERE

2. Greek yogurt

Protein: 17 grams per single-serving container

When it comes to muscle recovery, plain nonfat Greek yogurt knocks it out of the park: Those little plastic cups pack tons of protein in just 418 kilojoules. Feel Free to Order Greek Yogurt Online HERE

3. Gruyere cheese

Protein: 8 grams per 28-gram serving

This deliciously rich variety of Swiss cheese is arguably the most addictive way to get your daily protein intake. Just watch your portions, though: While a 28-gram serving contains a reasonable 489 kilojoules, it can be easy to consume several portions if you aren’t careful. Order Yourself Gruyere Cheese HERE

4. Dried pumpkin seeds

Protein: 10 grams per 1/4-cup serving

Pumpkin seeds may be best known for their magnesium, but they’re also a rich source of protein. Top them on salads or snack on them whole. Buy them HERE

5. Chickpeas

Protein: 12 grams per 1-cup serving

“Chickpeas have iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K, which all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength,” says Beth Warren, registered dietician and author of the book Secrets Of A Kosher Girl. And they’re high in protein, too. Win-win. Order yourself THE best ChickPeas HERE

6. Tofu

Protein: 9 grams per 100-gram serving

Whether scrambled or sautéed, tofu is an ideal—and flexible!—protein for both day and night. “It contains all eight essential amino acids,” says Warren. Plus, you’ll get a hefty dose of magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1. Buy the medically recommended Tofu HERE

7. Almonds

Protein: 7.5 grams per 1/4-cup serving

They’re a high-protein food, but almonds also make a great snack because they’re high in vitamin E, copper, and magnesium, says Warren. Order medically recommended Almonds beans from HERE

8. Edamame beans

Protein: 9 grams per 1/4-cup serving

Fueling up with soy at your favourite sushi joint might be your ticket to proper recovery from barre class. “They’re an excellent source of iron and calcium,” says Warren. Order medically recommended Edamame beans from HERE

9. Rolled oats

Protein: 7 grams per 1/2-cup serving

We often think of this breakfast staple as a straight-up carb, but it’s time to think beyond the bowl. Along with a hefty dose of protein, it contains filling fibre, and a load of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, says Warren. Order medically recommended Rolled Oats from HERE

10. Shrimp

Protein: 20 grams per 85-gram serving

If you’re sick of chicken, go for shrimp—they’re low-kilojoule with a surprisingly high amount of protein, says Martha McKittrick, a nutritionist in New York City and blogger at City Girl Bites. Rather than bathed in butter, enjoy them dipped in cocktail sauce to keep kilojoules low. Order medically recommended Shrimp from HERE

11. Seitan

Protein: 20 grams per 85-gram serving

Seitan—a plant-based protein derived from wheat gluten—is another great high-protein food, especially for vegetarians. “It takes on the seasonings it’s prepared with and often mimics the taste of meat or chicken dishes,” says McKittrick. But definitely don’t eat seitan if you are gluten-sensitive. Order medically recommended Seitan from HERE

12. Cottage cheese

Protein: 24 grams per cup serving

Yeah yeah, it’s the stuff your grandma loves. But it’s also legit high in protein—and so versatile, says Jill Weisenberger, registered dietician and author of The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition. Go sweet by mixing in fruit and nuts, or savory with tomatoes, fresh basil, and a few cracks of black pepper, she suggests. (You can even eat it for breakfast!) Order medically recommended Cottage cheese from HERE

13. Roast beef deli meat

Protein: 19 grams per 100-gram serving

You might be giving deli meats some serious side-eye thanks to their rep for having tons of preservatives, and sodiums, but they can be part of a healthy diet. “They key is to choose high quality options. Deli meats should include nothing more than the meat and seasonings,” says Weisenberger. Order medically recommended roast beef deli meat from HERE

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