Protein Intake: How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

Medically Reviewed on 7/15/2022
Protein Intake: How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day
Daily protein requirements vary depending on your age, lifestyle, and underlying health conditions

Proteins are the building blocks of your body, essential for building and maintaining muscles, bones, organs, and skin. But how much protein should you eat per day?

Daily protein requirements vary depending on your age, lifestyle, and underlying health conditions. Here are general guidelines to help you calculate your protein intake.

What are general guidelines for daily protein intake?

The following are general guidelines for recommended protein intake:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends maintaining a mean protein intake of about 16.3% of dietary intake for men and about 15.8% for women.
    • In a 2000-calorie diet, about 2000700 calories should come from protein.
    • The recommended dietary protein allowance for an average sedentary adult is 0.36 grams per pound. So a person who weighs 165 pounds should consume 60 grams of protein per day.
    • If you suffer from kidney disorders or are at a high risk of kidney disorders, you should consume 0.6 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day or as advised by your doctor.
  • For adults 40 years and older, protein intake should increase by about 0.5 grams per pound to make up for muscle loss that comes with age.
  • If you do weight training regularly (3 times a week), you require about 1.1-1.6 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Protein above 2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight each day is excess and may cause more harm than good.
  • If you are overweight, seek the help of a dietitian in calculating your protein needs. 

When is the best time to eat protein?

It is best to spread out your protein consumption evenly so that you feel satiated throughout the day. A few newer studies suggest that having more protein at breakfast is better for boosting metabolism and helping with weight loss.

Most nutritionists recommend consuming about 15-30 grams of protein at each meal. Eating more than 40 grams of protein in a single setting can cause bloating and stomach upset.

What foods are rich in protein?

Table 1: Animal sources of protein
Animal sources Examples Recommended portions
Meat Beef, goat, lamb, pork, and game (e.g., bison, moose, elk, and deer) 3 portions per week (total of 300-500 grams of cooked weight or 100-150 grams per serving)
Poultry Chicken, Cornish hens, duck, game birds (e.g., ostrich, pheasant and quail), goose, and turkey 3 times a week (80 grams per serving)
Organ meat Liver, chitterlings, giblets, gizzard, liver, sweetbreads, tongue, and tripe 6-8 ounces of liver per week
Chicken eggs 1 egg a day if your cholesterol levels are within normal range
Seafood Anchovy, black sea bass, catfish, clams, cod, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, hake, herring, lobster, mullet, oyster, perch, pollock, salmon, sardine, scallop, shrimp, sole, squid, tilapia, freshwater trout, and light tuna 2 portions per week, of which 1 portion should be oily fish

Table 2: Vegan sources of protein

Vegan sources Examples Recommended portions
Nuts and seeds All unsalted nuts (tree nuts and peanuts), nut butter, seeds (e.g., chia, flax, pumpkin, and sesame) and seed butter (e.g., sesame or tahini and sunflower) 4 servings of unsalted butter per week or 1 teaspoon of nut butter a day
Soy and soy products Tofu, tempeh, and products made from soy flour, soy protein isolate, and soy concentrate Up to 50 grams a day
Legumes Lentils, such as mungo, moth beans, lima beans, red beans, chickpea, and kidney beans 3 cups of soaked legumes in a week


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

What to know about protein supplements

If you cannot get enough protein due to lifestyle or dietary restrictions, a protein powder is a good alternative for meeting your daily requirements. 

  • Quantity: Avoid taking more than 2 scoops at a time. It is better to start small with half a scoop and gradually increase your intake.
  • Quality: Check the label to make sure the 2 scoops contain less than 200 calories on average, less than 2 grams of fat, and no added sugar or partially hydrogenated oils. Make sure they are free from adulteration.
  • Timing: The best time to have protein powder is within 30 minutes of exercise. This helps prevent post-exercise muscle loss and keeps your metabolism high. 
  • Accompaniments: Drink enough water with your protein powder to avoid bloating, gas, and constipation.

Is too much protein dangerous?

Consuming too much protein can put undue strain on your liver and kidneys. Excess protein is stored in the liver and muscles as fat tissue, which can lead to insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and fatty liver disease. This is especially problematic if you are predisposed to kidney disease, diabetes, or hypertension

Eating too much protein at once can also cause constipation, bloating, and stomach pain. In some people, it can trigger irritable bowel syndrome episodes.

Since daily protein requirements vary from person to person, it is best to speak to a registered dietitian about recommended intake for you.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/15/2022
Image Source: iStock image

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diet/Nutrition. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 - 2025.

Wempen K. Are you getting too much protein? Mayo Clinic.