When you consider the nutrient’s stellar skill set, it makes sense: Protein can boost metabolism, increase feelings of fullness and even help the body retain its muscle while scorching fat. But how much do you need? Should you eat it all at once or throughout the day? Don’t get overwhelmed if you don’t have all the answers—we’re here to help.
HOW MUCH YOU NEED:
To reap the weight-loss benefits of the nutrient, men should consume 56 grams a day, while women should strive for 46. However, if you’re a big-time gym rat, you may need to consume up to 1.6 grams of protein per per kilogram of body weight, says Pennsylvania-based dietitian, Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN. That means an active 150-pound person may need up to 109 grams of protein daily. Eat any more than that, however, and the excess protein could be stored as fat. Yikes—not what you want!
TIMING IS KEY:
Protein consumption should be spread evenly throughout the day—not all downed post-pump, like you may have heard. Why? Those who stagger their protein consumption lost more weight and were more apt to maintain their new, fit figures than those who skimped on protein at certain meals, according to recent research. That means someone who’s aiming for 60 grams of protein daily should consume 20 grams at each meal.
HOW TO EAT IT:
Getting protein in at every meal isn’t always easy, though— especially during the work week, when pastries and granola bars seem to wind up on your plate instead of wholesome protein-packed picks like omelets and chicken breasts. To hit the nutritional mark daily, pick up a box of pre-grilled chicken (we like Hormel Natural Choice), prepared hard-boiled eggs, 2% Fage Greek yogurt and some of The 25 best High-Protein Snacks in America, and keep them at your office. This ensures you’ll always have something protein-rich on hand whenever hunger strikes. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, check out the 7 Meat-Free Proteins That Boost Weight Loss to hit the nutritional mark at each meal.