How to Know if You Need More Protein

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How to Know if You Need More Protein

If your fitness journey includes medical weight loss or muscle building, the notion of increasing your protein intake likely rings familiar. Protein, with its satiating effect and muscle-supporting properties, is indeed a crucial macronutrient.

The National Academy of Medicine advocates that adults should aim for a bit over 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight (or at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight) daily. An intake ranging from 10% to 35% of your overall diet ensures your protein requirements are met. For visual context, imagine a balanced plate of nutrition.

However, certain groups might face challenges in fulfilling their daily protein needs. If you fall into one of these groups, you might need to increase your protein intake.

Elderly Adults. As we age, maintaining strength becomes paramount. Appetite declines and nutrient absorption falters, leaving approximately 1 in 3 older men and 1 in 4 older women protein deficient. Aim for 0.54–0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.2–2.0 grams per kilogram) daily to counteract this decline. Protein-rich snacks like walnuts and shared meals can provide the necessary boost.

Vegans. Despite misconceptions, most vegans hit their protein targets. However, newcomers transitioning from meat-rich diets should consciously incorporate plant-based protein sources. Incorporate protein into every meal with items like quinoa, nutritional yeast, and hemp, chia, and flaxseeds.

Athletes. While most athletes meet their protein requirements naturally, elite athletes may need more. For those engaging in intense workouts most days, aim for 0.54–0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.2–2.0 grams per kilogram) daily. Proper timing—pre and post-workout—ensures optimal recovery and muscle growth.

Those following a Medical Weight Loss Plan. If weight loss is your focus, boosting protein intake to 0.81–1.09 grams per pound of body weight (1.8–2.4 grams per kilogram) daily can help preserve muscle mass. Opt for protein-rich foods like lentil or chickpea pasta, Greek yogurt, and convenient snacks such as hard-boiled eggs or cheese and turkey roll-ups.

In many cases, protein intake is well-covered. However, if you suspect a protein deficit, consult a medical weight loss doctor or registered dietitian for personalized guidance. The key lies in customizing your approach, ensuring that your intake of protein and other nutrients aligns with your medical weight loss or fitness goals. Call us to schedule an appointment, and we’ll help you review your nutrition plan and make the necessary changes.