If you're like most people, these past few weeks have not been good to your waistline.
Even if you didn't gain much over the holiday season, many people use the New Year as a time to make all sorts of resolutions about losing weight, eating better, and just generally being more fit.
Regardless what your exact goal is for your New Year's Diet, protein will be a major part of it. But, how much protein per day do you need to reach your new-found goals?
The answer is not as simple as it might seem.
All The Variables
First, it's important to understand that the leaner you are the more total calories you will need to eat on a daily basis because your metabolism will be faster. This also means you will need more protein than individuals who have less lean weight and more body fat.
But your workout schedule and fitness goals will also have a large impact on your protein needs. When you exercise, you damage your muscles on a microscopic level – riddling them with tiny tears in the fibers.
In response to these tears, your body rebuilds the muscles fast, bigger and stronger so that they can be better equipped to handle the next workout.
Guess where your body gets the raw materials from these renovation projects? From protein.
The protein that you eat is broken down into its amino acid components and then rebuilt into exactly what your body needs to get the job down. So, if your workouts are damaging your muscles and you aren't providing the needed materials, you won't see the benefits of your hard work in the gym.
Of course, some workouts do more damage than others. For example, weightlifting will stimulate muscle fibers across your entire body, whereas running will not.
We also have to consider, however, that protein can be used both to build muscle and burn fat. Protein has been shown to significantly increase resting metabolism and work as an appetite suppressant – making it a powerful weight loss tool.
Which are you trying to accomplish? Or are you after a little of both?
Okay... so those are just a few of the things we need to think about when deciding how much protein per day is the right amount for you.
But, once you have all that figured out you need some actual numbers to go by, right?
Typically, the recommendations say that your protein intake should range any between 10 and 25 percent of your total daily calorie intake. Which doesn't actually tell you much, does it? After all, that's a pretty big range.
So, what's right for you? Studies have found that, for people looking to lose weight, keeping their protein intake at about 20 to 30 percent of their total calories helps to reduce food cravings and significantly increase total metabolism.
For those who are already relatively lean and active and are looking to build muscle mass, it's generally better to go by the amount of lean weight you already have.
As a target, keep your daily protein intake to about .7g – 1g per pound of body weight.