Protein’s ability to increase calorie burning, decrease hunger, and maintain muscle mass makes it sound too good to be true — and it can be. So before you start eating eggs with a side of grilled chicken for every single meal, remember that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Excess protein in your body will wind up stored as fat, but how do you know when you’ve crossed that line?
If you’ve heard you should consume a set amount, like the recommended daily allowance for the average man and woman — 56 and 46 grams, respectively — throw that number out the window. The perfect number of grams is different for every person depending on their weight. Lucky for you, we spoke to Jim White, RD, ACSM, and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios for answers. Once you’ve calculated your specific amount, hit the store with our list of The 29 Best-Ever Proteins For Weight Loss and stock up.
Know Your Goal
Just because something works for your partner or your best friend doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for you. “In order to gain muscle for athletes and lose weight, it is recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics to consume 1.2 – 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight,” White explains. With 0.45 kilograms in one pound, that means a 150-pound person needs about 81 – 115 grams while someone who’s 180 pounds needs 97 – 138 grams.
Although those numbers are much higher than the amounts we mentioned earlier, trust us. A study in the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that those doubling the recommended daily allowance actually were able to preserve and build muscle better. Just don’t forget that the number you’re using right now is far from a permanent fix. As you start seeing weight loss results, you should continue updating your protein goals with this formula.
Make Sure You Eat Enough
The best way to reap protein benefits is to incorporate it into your diet over the course of a day, starting with breakfast. A study by the Institute of Food Technologists found that people eating protein-rich breakfasts ate 200 fewer calories at night than those who didn’t. You can get 15 grams with an Oikos Greek yogurt or 6 grams with one egg. If you’re stocking up on other obviously protein-rich foods like grilled chicken and protein shakes for lunch and dinner, but still missing the mark, don’t forget to use snack time to your advantage. Pick up some of The 25 Best Protein Snacks At The Supermarket to get you over the hump.