How much protein do I need per day? A common question, with a lot of confusion.
In simple terms, optimal protein intake all depends on your individual needs, which is why we created this free protein calculator to help you navigate your protein questions and optimize your protein intake to reach your goals.
HOW TO USE THE PROTEIN CALCULATOR
When inputting your personal information, be exact and honest with your current body weight, activity levels, and personal goals.
The more exact you are, the better-recommended protein intake we'll be able to give you.
After entering your details, our protein calculator will give you a better understanding of your protein needs.
Now, let's go deeper into protein.
We get tons of questions about protein, how to use it, when to use it, the list goes on and on, and rightfully so. With so much misinformation and bullshit out there, things get murky.
We're here to clean it up. Here's what you should know about protein.
1.) WHAT ARE PROTEINS?
Proteins are large, complex molecules composed of hundreds to thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains.
There are 20 amino acids that makeup proteins, nine of which are essential, meaning the body cannot synthesize them, and they must come from our diets.
Proteins play a crucial role in the structure and function of cells, tissues, and organs in the body. They are often referred to as the “workhorse” molecules of life.
Proteins are also vital to:
Tissue Growth and Repair
Metabolism and Energy Production
Communication Between Cells, Tissues, and Organs
Maintaining pH and Fluid Balance
Transporting and Storing Nutrients
2.) WHY IS PROTEIN IMPORTANT?
Simply, the body requires it in large amounts to live.
Protein is one of the three macronutrients that the body needs in large amounts to maintain structure and function optimally.
If you're underdosing your protein requirements you could experience:
Compromised Immune Health
Low Bone Mineral Density
Increased Risk of Injury
Brittle Hair, Skin, and Nails
Furthermore, when dietary protein is inadequate, the body prioritizes essential tissues and bodily function by pulling protein from skeletal muscles.
Over time, prolonged periods of insufficient protein intake will result in less muscle mass and strength.
So get in your protein so you don't wither away!
3.) WHAT IS THE RDA FOR PROTEIN?
Unlike vitamins that have a specific RDA and UL, protein intake depends per individual.
The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) to prevent deficiency for a minimally active adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
You'll hear it again and again, but the RDA for protein is the absolute bare minimum to live.
If you're training hard you'll need to up your intake to improve muscle recovery and performance.
Same goes for weight loss, if you're trying to lean out, you'll also need more than 0.8 grams per pound.
4.) OPTIMAL PROTEIN INTAKE
Your optimal daily protein intake will vary depending on your body weight, lean body mass, activity level, and training goals.
But for now, let's keep it simple and to the point, aim for 1 gram per pound of body weight.
This will ensure your body has enough protein to support your fitness goals and perform at its peak.
Rather have us calculate it for you?
5.) PROTEIN FOR MUSCLE BUILDING
Want to get stronger? You'll need protein.
Protein is vital to building and repairing tissues in your body and you simply cannot build bigger, stronger muscles without adequate protein intake.
If you don't get enough protein, the opposite will occur. Your body will start to break down muscle tissues.
Here's how it works:
Resistance training increases strength and mass by putting strain on the muscles. This strain creates micro-tears in muscle fibers which then needs protein to repair and rebuild them.
By rebuilding the damaged muscle fibers, muscle mass and strength increase.
Previous studies suggest that the daily pro daily protein intake of 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for adult athletes.
However, newer research suggests that athletes of a healthy weight who wish to lose body fat and build muscle need more protein than previously thought and should aim for 1.6-2.4 grams per kilogram (0.7- 1.1 grams per pound) of body weight.
For experienced lifters who want to reduce fat gain while bulking, there is evidence that protein intakes as high as 3.3 grams per kilogram (1.5 grams per pound) could be beneficial.
6.) PROTEIN FOR FAT LOSS
For those looking to lose fat, don't skimp on protein. When it comes to fat loss and improved body composition, protein is king.
Reduce Hunger Hormones
Prevents Muscle Breakdown
Remember this: Protein is an absolute number, not a percentage of your calories, especially if you're looking to lose weight and maintain muscle.
While in a cut, utilize a high protein diet, 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight - remember, high protein diets are essential to fat loss.
7.) HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I NEED?
There's no cookie-cutter answer, an individual's protein needs depend on these factors:
Here's a quick snapshot of what your protein intake could look like based on your activity levels.
Sedentary: 1-1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Moderately Active: 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Elite: 1.4- 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. Needs may increase up to 2.4 grams per kilogram of body weight during periods of weight loss.
Use the protein calculator to get your individualized protein requirement.
8.) BEST HIGH-PROTEIN FOODS
The best sources of protein come from whole foods sources; such as grass fed meats, dairy products, eggs, etc.
High-quality protein powders can be used to supplement the gaps in your diet or increase intake for high-protein diets, however, you should structure your meals around whole food sources.
Salmon: 22 grams per 3-ounce serving
Chicken breast: 26 grams per 3-ounce serving
Ground beef: 22 grams per 3-ounce serving
Eggs: 6 grams per large egg
Greek yogurt: 15 grams per 5.3-ounce container
Whey Protein Powders: 20 grams per serving
Beans: 15 grams per cup serving of cooked kidney beans
Nuts: 7 grams per 1/4-cup serving of almonds
Protein Powders: 20 grams per serving
9.) ANIMAL VS PLANT PROTEINS
Animal and plant proteins can both help you meet your daily protein needs and reach your fitness goals. However, there are a few key differences between the two.
Perhaps the biggest difference between animal and plant proteins is their amino acid content. Animal proteins are often considered to be higher quality because they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body needs to function properly.
Plant proteins, on the other hand, are generally incomplete protein sources as they lack one or more essential amino acids. Although it can be difficult, as long as you consume a variety of plant-based foods, you can get all of the amino acids you need from plant proteins.
Another difference between the two is their digestibility. Animal proteins are generally easier to absorb and digest than plant proteins due to their protein structure.
Lastly, many sources of plant-based proteins provide a variety of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants to support your overall health and well-being. In comparison, some animal protein sources are rich in iron and vitamin B-12, which some plant-based foods lack.
Ideally, it's best to consume a variety of plant and animal proteins to cover all of your bases and ensure your body gets enough amino acids and other essential nutrients.
10.) WAYS TO INCREASE PROTEIN INTAKE
There are many ways that you can increase protein intake - the key is to prioritize it.
Use these tips to hit your optimal daily protein intake.
Choose high-protein foods.
Structure meals around protein sources.
Incorporate protein-rich snacks.
Use protein powders to fill the gaps
11.) THE BENEFITS OF PROTEIN POWDERS
Protein powders are a healthy and convenient way to increase daily protein intake. They help to to build and repair lean muscle tissue, shuttle oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, make enzymes and hormones, and more.
Protein shakes between meals can help suppress appetite and keep you fuller, longer.
11.) HOW TO CHOOSE A PROTEIN POWDER
There are different factors to consider when choosing a protein powder.
Choosing a protein powder, based on the source of protein stems from lifestyle choices and dietary restrictions.
Animal-Based: Choose grass-fed whey protein powder.
BUILD uses high-quality, non-GMO, grass-fed whey protein and has a full amino acid profile to fuel muscle growth, increase lean muscle mass, shorten recovery time, and increase lean protein intake.
Protein from grass-fed cows have a greater nutritional value and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, CLA (an omega-6 fatty acid), and vitamins A, D, and E compared to conventional protein powders.
BUILD consists of both isolate and concentrate versions sourced from dairy cows that have a 100% grass-fed non-GMO diet, with zero added rBGH or rBST hormones.
Get it in Cocoa, Cinnamon Cereal, Orange Dream, and Strawberry Milkshake flavors.
Plant-Based: Choose plant-based protein powders.
Plant-based protein powders offer a great alternative to individuals who follow a plant-based diet, have lactose intolerances, or are simply trying to reduce their intake of animal-based products.
ATHs Plant Protein uses the best sources of plant proteins, pea and brown rice, to pack in 20g of protein in each serving.
Aside from protein, our formula also uses Jerusalem Artichoke, Maca, Chia and Flax Seeds, and an antioxidant blend to provide probiotics, vitamins, and minerals to support micronutrient needs.
Simple, effective, and quality-tested, plant protein can be used to gain muscle mass, decrease fat mass, shorten recovery time, and increase lean protein intake.
Get it in Cocoa and Coffee flavors.
Choose a protein powder that has:
NO Added Hormones
NO Artificial Flavors, Colors, Sweeteners
NO Unnecessary Additives
NO Synthetic Ingredients
We shouldn't have to say this but it's a common problem. Check the ingredients BEFORE buying any protein to make sure you're not allergic to the ingredients it contains.
Example; if you're allergic to cinnamon, probably not a good idea to purchase a flavor called "cinnamon cereal". You might be thinking, "wtf", but trust us, our support team can tell you about all the weird reasons customers need an exchange.
12.) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHEY AND PLANT PROTEINS
Protein is good, but protein isn't protein. Know what we mean? If you read the above part of this article, you would be nodding with us.
Animal proteins are superior to plant proteins, ergo whey protein powder is superior to plant protein powder.
Learn the differences below.
WHEY PROTEIN POWDER
In addition to being a complete protein, whey protein has a uniquely high leucine density. A 2022 review noted that around 2.7 grams of leucine in one sitting is required to trigger muscle protein synthesis. This can be achieved by consuming about 25 grams of whey protein.
The amount of plant protein that needs to be ingested to achieve the same 2.7 grams of leucine as in 25 grams of whey protein is about 37 grams of brown rice protein, 38 grams of pea protein, or 30 grams of soy protein.
PLANT PROTEIN POWDERS
While whey protein may offer a slight advantage in terms of promoting muscle growth, plant-based protein powders can still be used to increase lean protein intake, gain muscle mass, decrease fat mass, and shorten recovery time.
They are a great alternative for individuals who are lactose intolerant, following a plant-based diet, or simply trying to minimize their consumption of animal products.
To maximize the benefits of plant-based protein supplements, choose a formula that combines multiple plant protein sources. This ensures that you receive all the essential amino acids needed to support muscle growth, recovery, and your fitness goals.
Rice and pea protein blend perfectly because they balance each other out in terms of amino acids. Pea protein is low in the amino acids cysteine and methionine yet high in lysine, while rice protein is low in lysine but high in cysteine and methionine. When the two pair together, a superior amino acid profile is achieved that surpasses that of most single plant sources.
HOW MANY PROTEIN SHAKES A DAY?
The brunt of your protein should be coming from whole food sources, however, you can use supplements to increase your daily protein intake or as a convenient protein source when you're on the go.
Supplement your diet with 1-3 protein shakes a day to increase your protein intake.
PROTEIN SHAKES TO GAIN MUSCLE MASS
In order to gain muscle, you'll need added carbs and calories.
TIP: If you don't have dietary restrictions, whey protein is the best protein powder to build muscle size and strength.
Try this recipe:
12-14oz. nut milk of choice
1-2 scoops of BUILD or Plant Protein
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons peanut butter
PROTEIN SHAKES TO LOSE FAT MASS
Add protein to your favorite smoothies as a meal replacement. Added fruits and vegetables provide micronutrients to support your immune and digestive systems.
Try this recipe:
12-14oz. ice-cold water
1 scoop BUILD or Plant Protein
1/2 cup frozen fruit
1/2 cup fresh spinach
WHEN SHOULD YOU DRINK A PROTEIN SHAKE?
Whether you're trying to lose body fat, build muscle, or do both, protein shakes can be a convenient way to add more protein to your diet.
Protein shakes can be used as a:
High Protein Snack
Post Workout Shake
The timing of your protein shake will depend on your goals.
Individuals wanting to lose weight can use protein shakes as a meal replacement or high protein snack throughout the day. The added protein will help to curb cravings and keep you satiated.
Individuals using protein shakes for muscle gain can also incorporate them as high-protein snacks throughout the day, but more importantly, should prioritize their protein shakes after a workout to support their muscles.
No matter your goals, protein plays a critical role in you reaching them.
- 1. weight & routine
- 2. goals
- 3. dietary restrictions
- 4. results
Weight & Routine
Enter your weight & select the option that best fits their current training regimen.
LOW LEVEL TRAINING
2-3 Workouts / week at a low intensity
4-5 Workouts / week at a medium intensity
5+ Workouts a week at a high intensity
SPORTS INJURY RECOVERY
WHAT IS YOUR NUMBER ONE FITNESS GOAL?
To gain muscle
To lose fat while maintaining muscle
To maintain muscle
To improve my overall health
Please check off any dietary restrictions that apply to you
No Dietary Restrictions
How do you typically take your protein?
Select all that apply.
Before a Workout Mixing With Water
After a Workout Mixing With Water
Enter your email to get professional recommendations on how much protein you need.next
How Frequently Should I Take Protein?
Timing and spacing of protein servings matter as your body cannot “store” protein for future use (*6).
Here’s a good framework for how to think about achieving your target number each day:
- Protein quality matters. These results are based on consuming high-quality protein sources like ATH protein. If you are consuming lower-quality proteins as your primary sources, then you’ll need to increase your daily target number (*2).
- Gender. There is no scientific data to suggest men and women differ substantially in their protein needs, other than body weight (*1).
Sources for all data
(1) Morton, Robert W., Chris McGlory, and Stuart M. Phillips - "Nutritional interventions to augment resistance training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy" Copyright © 2015 Morton, McGlory and Phillips. Front Physiol 2015; 6: 245. Published online 2015 Sep 3. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2015.00245
(2) Phillips, Stuart M. - "The impact of protein quality on the promotion of resistance exercise-induced changes in muscle mass" Nutrition & Metabolism 2016 13:64 DOI: 10.1186/s12986-016-0124-8
(3) Thomas M. Doering, Peter R. Reaburn, Stuart M. Phillips, et. Al. - "Postexercise Dietary Protein Strategies to Maximize Skeletal Muscle Repair and Remodeling in Masters Endurance Athletes: A Review" and "What is the Optimal Amount of Protein to Support Post-Exercise Skeletal Muscle Reconditioning in the Older Adult?" International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Volume 26 Issue 2, April 2016
(4) Phillips, S. M. (2014a). - "A brief review of higher dietary protein diets in weight loss: a focus on athletes" Sport. Med. 2014
(5) Murphy CH, Hector AJ, Stuart M Phillips, - "Considerations for protein intake in managing weight loss in athletes" Eur J Sport Sci. 2015;15(1):21-8. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2014.936325. Epub 2014 Jul 11.
(6) Phillips, Stuart M. - "A brief review of critical processes in exercise-induced muscular hypertrophy" Sports Med. 2014; 44(Suppl 1): 71–77. Published online 2014 May 3. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0152-3