Daily Protein Requirements and Protein Intake
The minimum daily protein requirements for humans are derived from "ideal body weight". The ideal body weight is calculated based on height and varies slightly for men and women. Our protein requirements can also be expressed in terms of total caloric intake. The world health organization and many national health agencies have independently conducted studies, which (even though they differ slightly) all conclude our daily protein requirement should be between 10% to 15% of our daily caloric intake.
To calculate your specific daily minimum protein requirement 1) determine your ideal body weight, then 2) calculate your specific protein requirements based on your ideal weight.
Daily Protein Requirement Calculator:
Your ideal body weight is __ pounds, or __ kilograms.
Your minimum protein intake requirement is __ grams to __ grams.
If you are working endurance training, increase to __ to __ grams.
The daily minimum protein requirement is usually expressed in grams. There are about 28 grams per ounce. Since an ounce of meat does not have an ounce of protein (meat is not pure protein), as a general rule you should consume between 2 to 4 ounces of lean meat a day. See Protein Foods for a list of high protein foods.
Calculate your daily minimum protein requirements manually:
Step 1 - calculate your ideal weight
Woman's ideal body weight:
Men's ideal body weight:
Step 2 - use your ideal weight to determine your daily protein requirement.
The world health organization established a daily protein requirement less than the UK Department of Health and Social Security and US RDA. Using the high and low recommendations together provides an acceptable range for daily protein requirement.
Men and women protein intake range based on ideal body weight:
- Minimum Daily Protein Requirement: W.H.O. recommends 0.45 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day.
- Maximum Daily Protein Requirement: US RDA recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. The UK Department of Health and Social Security is approximately the same.
If you are currently doing endurance training your daily protein requirement increases to 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. However, there is no recommended daily protein requirement for weight or strength training. Additionally, the daily requirements do not increase for people over their ideal body weight. This is because amino acids are not needed to support fat cells.
Low Protein Diet - not meeting the minimum daily protein requirement.
In any developed society it is almost impossible to be protein deficient. Even strict vegetarians can easily get all their protein requirements from complex carbohydrates. It is possible if a person consumes only sugar (simple carbohydrates) for extended period of time a protein deficiency may develop. Under normal circumstances a low protein diet is not a health concern.
It is possible to be deficient in some amino acids. This may be due to the combinations of plant foods consumed. Many plant proteins do not have all the required amino acids. The human body requires 9 amino acids to be consumed from protein. Meat/animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids needed by the body. A vegetarian diet of complex carbohydrates such as rice, beans, potatoes plus some fruits will provide all 9 amino acide for complete daily protein requirements.
High Protein Diet - exceeding the daily maximum protein requirement
Most people meet their daily protein requirements by many times over. In addition there is a misconception that a high protein diet is helpful for training. High protein diets do not help improve muscle strength or aid in training. In fact, high protein diets can be harmful to your health. There is far more risk to your health from high protein diet than from low protein diet.
- Proteins have a high amount of nitrogen. When nitrogen is broken down in the liver it creates ammonia. Ammonia is poisonous. The increased level of ammonia in the body is harmful to cells and may decrease atheletic performance.
- Stress on kidneys occurs when more than 2 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight per day is consumed.
- High levels of protein intake require increased amount of vitamin B6. It is possible to become deficient in vitamin B6 while using a high protein diet.
- Calcium loss, which leads to osteoporosis, occurs with high levels of protein intake.
The best thing to do is balance protein intake in the proper ration with carbohydrates and fats. The ratio of carbs-fat-protein varies from study to study but fits withing the following guidelines:
Daily carb-fat-protein ratio:
- Carbs 40 to 60%
- Fat 20 to 30%
- Protein 10 to 15%
Summary. The recommended protein intake requirement is derived from our "ideal body weight" and balanced with our overall caloric intake. If you want to be more specific and calculate your exact protein requirement 1) determine your ideal body weight, then 2) calculate your protein requirement based on your ideal weight. A good ratio of carbohydrates to fat to protein is 60-25-15. It is almost impossible to become protein deficient; however, it is easy to exceed you maximum daily protein intake requirement. Exceeding your maximum daily protein intake could reduce your atheletic performance and have an undesirable effect on your health.
- Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition: Report of a Joint Who/Fao/unu Expert Consultation.
- Proteins and Amino Acids in Nutrition