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Are You Eating Enough Protein?

Jenna Braddock
by Jenna Braddock
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Are You Eating Enough Protein?

When you hear the term “protein intake,” you might think just about building muscle, but it’s really much bigger than that. Protein is essential for our bodies to work properly from head to toe, as we are literally made of protein.

You can think of protein as the worker bees of your body. Each protein has a job and is doing that job pretty much all the time. Protein rarely just sits around idle in your body, nor is muscle simply “stored” protein. In fact, the body actually doesn’t store protein at all. The proteins of your body — made up of individual components called amino acids — are acting as the manpower of movement, the hard-working immune system and carriers of oxygen in your blood, just to name a few roles.

When it does come to muscle, dietary protein is essential for ensuring your body has the necessary building blocks (amino acids) to maintain and build lean body mass. Without a surplus of amino acids available to the muscles, they will not grow in strength or size. Of course, the existence of protein in the body is not enough to build muscle; adding resistance exercise to your daily routine will get you on the fast track to muscle growth.


Pick up Johnsonville Flame Grilled Chicken for an excellent source of lean protein in a convenient package. We season and grill the chicken for you, so you get fresh-off-the-grill flavor in about a minute — with nothing artificial.


PROTEIN TYPES

Nine out of the 20 possible amino acids are essential, meaning the body cannot make them on its own and they must be ingested. Animal proteins are “complete” proteins because they contain all nine essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins (such a legumes) are not all complete proteins but can be paired together to easily meet your amino acid needs.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED?

Protein has a Recommended Dietary Allowance level of 0.8 g/kg of body weight. However, this is technically the minimum daily average intake level to meet the requirements of 97–98% of Americans. So while this is a good starting place, there is certainly a lot of wiggle room based on individual lifestyle and personal goals.

Many eating styles suggest using a percentage of your total calories to determine your protein needs is sufficient. While this is a decent guideline, it doesn’t really account for your unique body and personal goals. Therefore, determining your general protein needs is best defined by using your weight.

Most formulas will use kilograms as the body weight measurement. You can easily convert your weight in pounds to kilograms with this formula:

Weight in pounds / 2.2 = weight in kilograms

For example:  150 lbs / 2.2 = 68.2 kg

DAILY PROTEIN NEEDS

The range of recommended protein varies for different populations. You should consider protein intake a range to experiment with, not a set in stone, never-miss number. Working with a range gives you flexibility based on activity levels that day, hunger, the way your body feels and desired outcomes.

These guidelines are based on several sources of expert associations in fitness and nutrition. While this is a good guide, it’s best to consult a physician or registered dietitian nutritionist to determine your ideal protein range.

Recommended Dietary Allowance by the Dietary Guidelines0.8 g/kg of body weight
Average healthy adults1.0–1.5 g/kg of body weight
Active adults who exercise regularly1.1–1.6 g/kg of body weight
Active adults trying to lose weight1.6–2.0 g/kg body weight
Weightlifters looking to gain muscle1.2–2.0 g/kg of body weight
Older adults over 501.0–1.5 g/kg of body weight
Endurance athletes1.3–1.6 g/kg of body weight

PROTEIN TIMING

Newer research is beginning to look not just at how much protein is needed daily but also how and when it is consumed throughout the day. It seems to make a difference on body composition, satiety and even athletic performance when protein is spread throughout the day instead of eaten more heavily at one time of the day (e.g., dinnertime). Research has shown interesting results that spreading total protein needs over the day evenly (about 20–30 grams per meal) is more effective at stimulating muscle synthesis and may translate to an overall healthier body long term.

Written by Jenna Braddock, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified specialist in sports nutrition. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Sponsored By

Sponsored by - Johnsonville
About Johnsonville

Based in rural Wisconsin since 1945, Johnsonville is a family-owned company crafting bratwurst, Italian, breakfast and smoked sausage, plus the newest product in our line, Flame Grilled Chicken. We start with whole chicken breasts, add seasonings and flame-grill them so they’re ready in about a minute with nothing artificial. Available in five flavors, they’re perfect for salads, soups, wraps or all by themselves. Give them a shot for a source of lean, convenient protein, Made the Johnsonville Way. Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for more delicious recipe ideas.

About the Author

Jenna Braddock
Jenna Braddock

Jenna is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified specialist in sports nutrition. She is a mom to two little boys and wife to a football coach. She shares real-life strategies for better health and doable, delicious recipes on her site Make Healthy Easy. She is active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest

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