How Do You Calculate How Much Protein You Need a Day?

Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2021
calculation of protein
Here are three ways to calculate the amount of protein your body needs daily.

Your daily protein requirements are mainly determined by factors, such as your weight, age, gender, height, and physical activity.

According to the National Academy of Medicine

  • All adults must consume at least 0.8 grams of protein daily per 2.2 pounds of their body weight.
    • This is the amount of protein required for a sedentary lifestyle (those who do little to no exercise including desk job employees).
    • Thus, for an adult who weighs 132 pounds and has a sedentary lifestyle, their protein requirement will be equal to 48 grams of protein a day (0.8 × 132/2.2).

The requirement will fluctuate if you are an athlete, pregnant, recovering from an illness, attempting weight loss, or a teenager. Certain conditions, such as kidney disease, may require you to lower your protein intake, while others may require a high protein intake.

Calculate protein requirement by weight

Another way to calculate your minimum daily protein requirement is by:

  • Dividing your weight into pounds by 20 and multiplying it by seven.
    • You need just a little more than seven grams of protein for every 20 pounds of your body weight.
    • Thus, for someone weighing 200 pounds, the protein requirement will be 70 grams each day.
  • You can also determine your protein requirement by multiplying your weight in pounds by 0.36.
    • Thus, for an adult weighing 150 pounds, the approximate protein requirement will be 54 grams.

Calculate protein requirement by calorie intake

Another way to calculate your daily protein requirement is by knowing how many calories you need in a day.

  • The National Academy of Medicine recommends that an individual can get anywhere from 10 to 35 percent of calories each day from protein.
    • One gram of protein gives four kilocalories.
    • Thus, a person consuming 2000 calories a day can derive 200 to 700 calories from protein.
    • This means they can eat about 50 to 125 grams of protein a day.

Alternatively, to know your dietary reference intakes (DRI) for protein needs, calculate on the available online tool, DRI Calculator for Healthcare Professionals, which is developed by the US Department of Agriculture.

It must be noted that these protein requirements are approximations. They do not consider special situations, such as your health goals (weight loss or gain), pregnancy, lactation, underlying health conditions (such as kidney diseases), and athletic activity level. To know your individualized protein requirement, you must discuss it with a qualified dietician.

Protein requirement chart

Here is a chart concerning the approximated amount of protein needed per day according to your activity level:

Table. Approximate daily protein intake according to activity level
Body weight (lbs) Low to moderate exercise Moderate mixed exercise Intense endurance exercise Intense resistance exercise Extreme intense exercise
88 - 132 32g - 48g 40g - 60g 52g - 78g 68g - 102g >88g - 132g
133 - 176 48g - 64g 60g - 80g 78g - 104g 102g - 136g >132g - 176g
177 - 220 64g - 80g 80g - 100g 104g - 130g 136g - 170g >176g - 220g

What is protein?

Protein is an important macronutrient required for overall health and building muscle mass.

Proteins are large molecules made of one or more chains of smaller units called amino acids.

  • There are 20 different types of amino acids needed by the body.
  • Some of these cannot be made by the body (essential amino acids) and must be obtained from food.

These essential amino acids include:

  • valine,
  • methionine,
  • histidine,
  • isoleucine,
  • leucine,
  • lysine,
  • phenylalanine,
  • threonine, and
  • tryptophan.

Each type of protein has its unique amino acid sequence. This along with the three-dimensional protein structure is responsible for the role it performs.

Thousands of different proteins are present in bodies. They make about 45 percent of the dry weight of an individual and are virtually seen in every part of the body, right from your hair, skin, muscles, and nails.

What are protein-rich foods?

Some of the foods rich in protein are:

  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Dairy
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soybeans and their products, such as tofu, edamame, and soy milk
  • Pulses
  • Millets


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Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2021
Harvard T.H. Chan. Protein.

Pendick D. How much protein do you need every day? Harvard Health Publishing.