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Protein Needs in Balanced Diet

Protein Needs – US Guidelines on Protein and Diet

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein according to U.S. government standards is 0.8 gram per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of ideal body weight for the adult. This protein RDA is said to meet 97.5% of the population’s needs.

Protein Needs – Protein RDA is Higher Than Average Need

The US RDA for protein in our daily diet is high, to cover most person’s needs. For example, the average requirement for dietary protein is 0.6 grams per kilogram [2.2 pounds] of ideal body weight, while the protein RDA is 0.8 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight. So the protein RDA has a wide built-in safety margin.

Adult Male Protein Needs

An adult male who should weigh about 154 pounds, or 70 kilograms, requires about 56 grams of protein daily.

Adult Female Protein Needs

An adult female whose best weight is 110 pounds, or 50 kilograms, needs about 40 grams a day.

Protein Needs for Other People

The RDA increases by 30 grams per day during pregnancy and 20 grams per day during lactation. During growth, different amounts are needed. For example, 2.2 grams of protein are needed per kilogram of body weight each day in the first six months of life, and 2.0 grams per kilogram for the next six months.

Table 1. Protein RDAs

Age Protein RDA*
0-6 months 2.2
6-12 months 2.0
1-3 years 1.8
4-6 years 1.5
7-10 years 1.2
11-14 years 1.0
15-18 years 0.9
19 + years 0.8

[* per kilo of body weight]

Protein Needs for Muscle/BodyBuilders

Excess protein does NOT build muscle bulk and strength – exercise does.

For example, suppose you want to make your upper body bigger and increase your upper body strength. (a) Go to your local health food store and you’ll be told to increase your protein intake by eating protein shakes at each meal. (b) Then go to a sports doctor and sports dietitian. They’ll tell you to eat a moderate amount of protein and swim three times a week plus do upper body weights three times a week. (c) Which advice do you believe?

Sources include:

US Dept of Agriculture
UK Dept of Health
Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

Protein & Diet Related Links:

Protein & Diet
Protein in Foods

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