Protein: The Optimal Amount

Variation in the amount and type of protein consumed affects the biological process. These link to health, ageing and disease. Finding the optimal amount of protein can yield big benefits. It can help us to live longer and experience fewer diseases. Too little protein causes disease. Too much protein causes disease. So, what is the right amount?

Recommended Daily Allowance for Protein

RDA is set by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. They suggest that the minimal requirements of healthy adults are 0.8 gram per kilogram per day.

The RDA is only an average. This is because protein requirements vary depending on whether a person is:

  • A child
  • An adult
  • Elderly
  • Pregnant
  • An athlete
  • In ill health
  • Obese
  • Losing or gaining weight

Growth and Development

Pregnant women, infants, and children are in a life stage when growth is a priority. These are the types of people who should increase their protein intake.

As a child ages, the protein requirements slowly decline. By 10-years of age, a safe level of protein is about 0.9 gram per kilogram. This is a level only slightly higher than for an adult.


Protein requirements for the elderly are different than for other adults. Failure to meet those increase protein needs can result in:

  • Loss of muscle
  • Loss of other lean mass
  • Lower antioxidant capacity
  • Lower immune function

All these elements play a role in increased risks of illness and fragility.

Protein supplementation such as a whey drink can be taken before or right after exercise. A popular brand that we recommend is True Protein. This might help older people to regain muscle. This is because whey is effective for muscle growth. Bodybuilders are well known to ingest protein immediately before or after strength training. This is to increase muscle growth and exercise physiologists have studied this practice. It has been proven to work.


Here are some recommendations for high-performance athletes.

  • Aim to eat approximately 0.4 gram per kilogram of body mass of protein per meal.
  • ┬áSpace protein-containing meals 3 – 5 hours apart.
  • Consider taking glycine supplements.

Here are some recommendations for athletes in energy restriction.

  • Perform resistance exercise during energy restriction to preserve lean body mass.
  • Ensure adequate protein intake helps appetite control during energy restriction.

Weight Loss

When people lose weight, the lost weight is not entirely body fat. Some of it is muscle. It is important to avoid losing muscle. Muscle mass and strength correlates with health and long life. Adding resistance exercise to a low-calorie diet can abolish muscle loss. It can also help you to add muscle as you lose fat.

Higher protein intake is often useful in weight loss because of its satiating effect. Eating protein increases satiety hormones like peptide YY. The feeling of satiety is beneficial in weight-loss efforts. Eating foods that are low in protein may result in an innate physiological drive to eat more food. This will eventually lead to more weight gain.

The Optimal Amount

Optimal protein intake varies depending on goals and underlying health conditions. The elderly or ill need more to maintain good muscle tone and health. Athletes need more than non-athletes.

Consuming more protein can reduce hunger and increase muscle growth. But, consuming too much may also have some negative consequences.


  • Can be good for your bones
  • Can lower your blood pressure
  • Can help to maintain weight loss
  • Can help your body to repair itself after injury
  • Can boost metabolism
  • Can reduce cravings
  • Can reduce hunger levels
  • Can increase muscle strength

Speak with you GP professional to seek expert advice if you have any questions.

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