How to Calculate How Much Protein You Need

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It's important that we eat enough protein each day to cover our body's needs. There are two ways of calculating a person's protein requirements. The standard minimum amount of daily protein recommended is .37 gram per pound of body weight (or .8 grams per kilogram of body weight). Although, your own personal needs may vary based on multiple factors including your age, activity level, and weight loss goals, let's start off easy.

This first method of calculating your protein needs is simply based on your weight.

The chart below shows the minimum amount of protein you need based on the .37 gram per pound that the United States Institute of Medicine recommends. Athletes and heavy exercisers should probably double this amount, so that's included in the chart.

Is There a Maximum Amount of Protein?

Maximums are not included in the chart because the recommended maximums are usually calculated by the percentage of calories consumed with the upper limit being 35%. This would be about 170 grams for a person taking in 2000 calories per day if they are not losing weight (people on weight loss diets should not go by percentage). In truth, people rarely have to worry about this maximum as it has been noted repeatedly that people will naturally stop before this point. The body just does not "want" very high levels of protein in the diet, and people start feeling sick (or at least sick of protein) before getting too much.

There are two charts here—if you weigh yourself in kilograms, scroll down to the next chart.

Weight in lbs.Minimum ProteinAthletes Minimum
Minimum Daily Protein Requirements
10037 grams74 grams
11040 grams80 grams
12044 grams88 grams
13047 grams94 grams
14051 grams102 grams
15055 grams110 grams
16058 grams116 grams
17062 grams124 grams
18065 grams130 grams
19069 grams138 grams
20072 grams144 grams
21076 grams152 grams
22080 grams160 grams
23084 grams168 grams
24087 grams174 grams
25091 grams182 grams
26095 grams190 grams
27098 grams196 grams
280102 grams204 grams
290105 grams210 grams
300109 grams218 grams
Weight in kg.Minimum ProteinAthletes Minimum
5040 grams80 grams
6048 grams96 grams
7056 grams112 grams
8064 grams128 grams
9072 grams144 grams
10080 grams160 grams
11088 grams176 grams
12096 grams192 grams
130104 grams208 grams
140112 grams224 grams
 

Lean Body Mass Method

There is another method of figuring out how much protein you need, depending on what your lean body mass and activity level are. Some experts feel that this is a more accurate technique since our lean body mass (that is, the part of our bodies that isn't fat) requires much more protein for maintenance than fatty tissue does and how active we are also figures into it.

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Article Sources
  • Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) (2005), Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences.
  • Lemon, PWR. (1996). “Is increased dietary protein necessary or beneficial for individuals with a physically active lifestyle?” Nutrition Review 54:S169-S175.