How much protein should one eat per day?

This is a great question and one that was not generally asked until the emergence of advanced scientific methods that allowed us to measure what happens in the body at different levels of daily protein.

The general unit of measure is grams of protein per mass of the person. So if the value is 1g/pound, and you weigh 150 pounds, then you would need 150g of protein per day. Considering that an egg has ~5-6g of protein, then you’d need about 2 dozen eggs per day.

One of the issues people have when trying to eat better and be more active is the sheer volume of food that is recommended to them. Boosting your calories to meet the amount that someone told them to eat can be far too much, either through cost, the time to make it, the time to eat it, or even the feeling of being stuffed all day. Thankfully, there have been many studies on the topic.

Actual values vary from study to study, and most certainly from person to person. One thing that everyone seems to be in agreement with, is that ~0.82g/pound/day is the upper limit; anything more than that, for the purpose of muscle mass, is a waste of money and food. In reality, extra protein will either be stored as fat or burned as energy, which is great if you don’t mind those things. But really, if you need more fat or energy, oils and starches will give you more than enough of those at a much better price point.

For sedentary individuals, so those who commute and sit at a desk all day, a healthy amount is 0.38g/lbs of body mass, or 0.8g/kg – they are the same amount, just different units of mass.

Anything in between 0.38-0.82g/lbs, or 0.8-1.8g/kg, will be enough for everyone from weekend warriors to full time athletes. This Baysian article even mentioned that elite level bodybuilders actually need less protein per pound than amateurs because the body become more efficient at growing and strengthening muscles. Another study compared 0.81g/lbs to 2g/lbs and found “...there were no significant changes over time or between groups for body weight, fat mass, fat free mass, or percent body fat.”