Protein is one of three macronutrients, alongside fat and carbohydrates, that you need to eat on a daily basis to survive. While each one is important, protein is vital for sustaining and increasing muscle mass and also plays a role in transporting oxygen throughout the body.
However, there is such a thing as eating too much protein, and Liz Weinandy, RD with The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, breaks down exactly how much protein you should roughly be eating every day. She also details some signs that may indicate you’re getting too much protein in your diet.
How much protein should you eat per day?
The amount of protein you need each day varies on several factors, primarily by sex and activity level.
“Most people need around 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of ideal body weight,” says Weinandy.
Ideal body weight equations are used to help gauge what a healthy weight is for people based on their height. However, as is the case with BMI, both values fail to take muscle mass into consideration and identify that there is a range of healthy body weights.
For women, the ideal body weight for someone 5 feet tall would be 100 pounds and for every inch after, you tack on five pounds. For men, the ideal body weight for someone who is 5 feet tall is 106 pounds, and for every inch after you add six pounds.
So, following Weinandy’s equation, to figure out how much protein a woman who is 5’6″ would need, you to take the ideal body weight—which in this case would be 130 pounds—and then convert from pounds to kilograms by dividing 130 by 2.2. That number will be 59 kilograms. Since Weinandy says you need about 1 gram of protein per each kilogram of body weight, a woman who is 5’6″ should eat between 59 and 60 grams of protein each day.
For those who are trying to build muscle mass, you may want to try aiming for 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Athletes will also likely require more protein than those who don’t exercise as regularly. No matter how much protein you specifically need per day, you shouldn’t consume more than 30 grams of protein per meal.