Active Lifestyles: How much protein do you really need?

Katy Mueller

(photo courtesy of Elli O. via Unsplash.com)

There is a massive debate on whether or not people need as much protein as they think they do. Some people think that it is necessary to get a ton of protein, others think that less is fine. Especially with vegetarianism and veganism on the rise in popularity, this debate gets significant attention from people who don’t eat animal products and meat-eaters alike. But what really is the proper amount of protein a person needs for a healthy lifestyle?

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First of all, what is protein even good for anyway? It isn’t just about building muscle. Protein is vital in your body’s ability to build a strong and healthy immune system, a balanced hormonal system, as well as have strong functioning cells and tissues everywhere, according to Livestrong.comThe daily recommended intake of protein according to the USDA is about .8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. For example,  I weigh about 145 pounds, which is roughly 66 kg, so I would need about 53 grams of protein daily according to this recommendation.

Although this is the current recommendation, many people eat far too much protein than necessary. Many argue that you need even more protein to build more muscle and stay healthier. However, that is not necessarily true. Though protein is important, eating too much is not going to make significant changes in muscle growth. A well balanced diet is far more important that just cramming as much protein into your meals as possible. 

Also, protein doesn’t need to be just from meat. Everything is made of protein; spinach, nuts, and other plant based foods like quinoa, beans and tofu all are great alternatives. It is just as important to get protein from a variety of sources as it is getting protein in the first place.

As far as reaching a healthy balance with protein, just try to make sure to get the daily recommendation and maybe a bit more from a variety of sources as well that help you enjoy eating it.

Collegian blogger Katy Mueller can be contacted at blogs@collegian.com or on Twitter @katymueller13.