Food Quantity

Protein

One question I get asked so frequently is ‘How much protein should you eat per day?’

Like most things in nutrition, it depends…

The Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.8 g of protein per pound of kilogram of bodyweight. However, the RDA’s were developed to prevent malnutrition; in other words, in order to not get sick or die. If you’re an active individual, then you will need to focus on thriving instead of just surviving.

You deserve to live your best life!

If you are extremely sedentary or you participate in exercise that doesn’t incorporate some type of resistance training, then you can get away with eating closer to 0.6-1.0 g of protein per pound of kilogram of bodyweight. It’s also important to note, if you are someone that has a lot of body fat to lose then you will want base this multiplier off your muscle mass, not your total weight. To determine your % lean (muscle) and fat mass, you should get body composition done.

Do you workout consistently?

Are you someone that does some type of resistance training 3-5x per week or more?

Do you play sports?

If so, we reference the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the American College of Sports Medicine and their recommendation of 1.2-2.0 g of protein per pound of kilogram of bodyweight.

The challenge with the wide range recommendation is that it tried to encompass all lifestyle types. To narrow this down you should consider a number of other factors such as total calorie intake, type of exercise, carbohydrate intake, how active you are, age, and biological sex.

Here is a personal example of what works best for Justin…

190 lb. male
27 years old
4-5 low intensity CrossFit workouts per week
Averaging ~3,000 calories per day with a goal of maintaining weight

190 x 1.2 = 228g

1g of protein = 4 calories

228 x 4 = 912 calories

Another example could be in an individual that is extremely sedentary…

300 lb. female
0 workouts / week
Avg. 4,000 steps per day
Sits at a desk all day and then on her couch at night…

DEXA Scan:
~150 lbs. of muscle
~150 lbs. of fat

150 x 0.8 = 120g

1g of protein = 4 calories

120 x 4 = 480 calories

She would need to eat AT LEAST 120g of protein per day.

Dietary protein intake depends on the individual. Even though these calculations suggest a certain range, that amount of protein may not be feasible, For example, if you logged your food for 7 days during your assessment and you were surprised to find out that you were averaging ½ the amount of protein these calculations suggest, I highly doubt you are going to stuff your face with protein just to hit some number. Doubling your protein intake over a weeks time is going to leave you feeling bloated, stopped up, sluggish, and with a feeling of unrealistic expectations. Instead, we recommend slowly increasing your protein intake as your hunger response starts to increase. This takes time! Like weeks, months and years…

There are several ways that you can slowly start to increase your protein intake. You can simply increase the protein portion size of one or more of your meals, add in protein dense snacks, add a post workout protein shake, change up your meal frequency. Be sure to assess your hunger response, fullness after meals, digestion, bowel movements, bloating, weighing / logging skills, etc.

PLEASE do not feel that the only protein source you can eat is is chicken, protein bars, and protein shakes!!!

There are tons of amazing, high quality protein sources! VARIETY is key.

Fat

Assuming you’re like most Americans, fat is probably making up around 30-40% of your total daily calories. The obvious exception is those that follow a strict ketogenic diet (70-85%). As we discussed earlier, fat is a good thing! However, we recommend the majority of fat in your diet to be healthy fats like oils, nuts & seeds, avocados, etc.

How much fat should you eat per day?

Let’s use the same example we used with protein…

190 lb. male
5 low intensity CrossFit workouts per week
Averaging ~3,000 calories per day

If we take 35% of the 3,000 calorie example listed below then that would mean that 1,050 calories are coming from fat.

1g of fat = 9 calories

1,050 calories / 9 = 117g of fat

Fat variability is going to depend mostly upon the hormonal health of the individual. Cholesterol is a precursor for sex hormone production and regulation, as well as vitamin absorption. Optimum fat intake is typically what allows us to maintain a optimal hormonal profile.

Carbohydrates

After you have determined how much protein and fat to eat, the remaining calories leftover are for carbohydrates.

For the example we used above, lets finish off this complicated math equation!

190 lb. male
5 CrossFit workouts per week
Averaging ~3,000 calories per day

190 x 1.2 = 228g of protein
1g of protein = 4 calories
228 x 4 = 912 calories of protein

As above, we decided that 35% of the 3,000 calories would come from fat

1g of fat = 9 calories
3000 cal x 35% = 1050 cal of fat
1,050 calories / 9 = 117g of fat

912 cal protein + 1,050 cal fat = 1,962 cal
3,000 – 1,962 cal pro+fat = 1,038 cal carbs

1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories

1,038 / 4 = 260g of carbohydrates

So for this particular example, here is his starting macros:

228g protein
117g fat
260g carbohydrates

~3000 calories / day

Make sense???

Now, it’s your turn!

Can you calculate your macros?

Remember, this is just a calculation to establish a starting goal! You must log your food for 7-14 days to assess your current calorie / macro intake before you can start working towards this goal. Assess, calculate, and then slowly start working closer to your target number based upon your goals. Remember, take your time & monitor data!

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