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 Protein Athletes Minimum
100 37 grams 74 grams
110 40 grams 80 grams
120 44 grams 88 grams
130 47 grams 94 grams
140 51 grams 102 grams
150 55 grams 110 grams
160 58 grams 116 grams
170 62 grams 124 grams
180 65 grams 130 grams
190 69 grams 138 grams
200 72 grams 144 grams
210 76 grams 152 grams
220 80 grams 160 grams
230 84 grams 168 grams
240 87 grams 174 grams
250 91 grams 182 grams
260 95 grams 190 grams
270 98 grams 196 grams
280 102 grams 204 grams
290 105 grams 210 grams
300 109 grams 218 grams
Minimum Daily Protein Requirements
Weight in kg. Minimum Protein Athletes Minimum
50 40 grams 80 grams
60 48 grams 96 grams
70 56 grams 112 grams
80 64 grams 128 grams
90 72 grams 144 grams
100 80 grams 160 grams
110 88 grams 176 grams
120 96 grams 192 grams
130 104 grams 208 grams
140 112 grams 224 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.