True or false: Men need more protein than women.
Generally, this is true; however, according to Patrick Dunham, clinical training manager at Carilion Wellness in Roanoke, both weight and activity level play a more important role in protein requirements.
"For example, pregnant or nursing women require more protein than when they were not pregnant or nursing," explained Patrick.
But overall, you probably don't need as much protein as you might think.
"General guidelines state that average individuals need 0.8 g protein/kg per day," said Patrick. "A general recommendation for athletes and individuals who perform strength training is 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg per day."
Here are the equations you can use to ensure you are supplying your body with the protein it needs:
To do the math, start by converting weight from pounds to grams: 1 pound = 2.2 kilograms.
For a 200-pound man, the equation would be: 200 lbs. ÷ 2.2 kg = 91 kg
- For an average activity level, 80 grams of protein per day should suffice (91 kg x 0.8 grams protein)
- For active men and athletes, 120 to 200 grams of protein per day is recommended (91 kg x 1.2 to 2.0 grams protein)
For a 150-pound woman, the equation would be: 150 lbs. ÷ 2.2 kg = 68 kg
- Women with average activity levels get enough protein from 55 grams per day (68 kg x 0.8 grams protein)
- Active women and athletes should consume 82 to136 grams of protein per day (68 kg x 1.2 to 2.0 grams protein)
"Carbohydrates and fat are going to be the main source of fuel during workouts," said Patrick. "Protein is going to be necessary for re-building the muscle. Powders, shakes and bars can be a great way to get available protein, but you have to watch out for some bars because they can be like a candy bar and have very low protein and very high sugar."
Learn more about how to maintain a healthy weight and the importance of nutrition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.