Calculating Your Protein Need
In the my last macronutrient spotlight article, I highlighted the functions and importance of the macronutrient, Protein. Protein is the most important nutrient we can put in our bodies, and finding the right amount for your unique body is essential.
To begin, listen to this Podcast episode with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon to better understand protein and how to find your ideal need.
What did you think?
If you have listened to many health and fitness podcasts you may have encountered Dr. Lyon. She has done plenty of research into protein and muscle synthesis. This podcast is focused on many questions around women’s health but there are nuggets for everyone.
How much protein? When should you eat? Fasted exercise? There are so many questions in the world of nutrition and I’m hoping we can answer some of them for you today…
Getting Started: Lean Body Mass
In the podcast with Dr. Lyon, she stated that 90 grams of protein is what she considers the minimum intake for women per day. Obviously this is a generalized statement and so we are going to do a little math to figure out your need:
When talking protein need you would want to think of feeding your lean body mass (LBM). To calculate that you want to know your body fat mass.
If you are not able to do a DEXA scan to get your body fat percentage, you can use a visual chart like this one.
Follow Along to With These Example Calculations:
A person who weighs 160 lbs and is estimated to be 40% body fat. 160 x .40 = 64 lbs of fat
Therefore this person’s LBM is 96 lbs (160-64). I like to recommend 1g of protein per lb of LBM. Therefore, a suggested consumption of 96 grams of Protein.
The standard generic way to calculate minimum protein need was 0.8g/kg. Let’s see where this is ends up.
1kg = 2.2 lbs therefore 160 lbs/2.2 = 73 kg x 0.8g = 58.4 grams of protein.
That is a huge discrepancy! 96 grams vs. 58 grams
These are 3 different science papers saying we need 1.2 /1.3/ 1.6g of protein per kg of body weight per day (not LBM).
This would put that same individual at 73 x 1.2g or 1.6g needing anywhere between 87 grams -> 117 g. Closer to Dr. Lyons recommendation.
I encourage you to calculate your body fat percentage so you know your LBM and see where your numbers fall. This will help guide you to discover your own individual protein consumption goals.
I believe knowing your Lean Body Mass (the engine you want to fuel) is a better way to run the numbers.
Moving Forward: Application
Where do you fall? What have you learned about protein that you weren’t aware of before? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. Be sure to check out my next article where we put these numbers into action and break down the best food sources for protein to keep your body fueled!
Until next time,
-Dr. Jerome Craig