How Much Protein is Enough?

How much protein do I need? Is there too much? What’s the difference between animal-based/plant-based protein powders?

Protein is all the rage these days. Follow any trainer on social media and you’ll see headlines like “Eat more protein to lose weight!” But what does that even mean and how does it work? Let’s answer that question.

Protein is one of the three macronutrients that make up a balanced diet and is necessary for optimal performance in life. The recommended daily intake (RDA) for protein varies based on weight, gender, and specific performance goals (weight loss, improving endurance, gaining muscle).  

To calculate my own minimum daily protein needs I like to use a guideline from the Harvard Health Publishing of roughly 0.8:1, where the units of measure are kgs of weight to grams of protein.

Here’s an example: If I weigh 160lbs. Then 160/2.2 = 73kg. 73 x 0.8 = 58g.

So, I would need 58g of protein per day to avoid sickness, but my actual goal is closer to 130g because I am trying to build muscle, maintain energy, as well as cognitive function to be sharp throughout my workday.

100g = 3.5oz. A typical chicken breast is 6oz. or 170g = 36g protein.

What does protein do for our bodies?

Protein helps build muscle and retain bone density as we age.Protein is broken down into amino acids which are necessary for brain function, immune system health, and endocrine function (energy production, stress handling, reproduction). More specifically cognitive function is supported the amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine, histidine, and arginine.

“Studies in recent years have concluded that a maximal anabolic response is achieved by ingesting of 20-35 g of a high-quality protein (e.g. whey protein powder, eggs, and chicken breast) every 4-6 hours throughout the day [14, 15].”

Is Whey, way better?

Studies have shown that plant-based protein is more bioavailable (meaning we absorb more from our food), than animal-based sources of protein. However, B12 is vitamin only found in animal-based proteins, so make sure to supplement with B12 if you choose to get all your protein from plants, as B12 is incredibly important in the process of energy production and making healthy red blood cells.

How Much is Too Much?

It is relatively hard to overconsume protein in your diet, as the average adult can only absorb up to 30g of protein per meal. When you consume more protein than your body can immediately use or absorb in each meal, the excess protein is not wasted. Instead, your body has mechanisms to handle and process the surplus.

Protein shortcut: An ounce of meat or fish has approximately 7 grams of protein.


Harvard School of Public Health. “Protein.” The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health, 2022,

“When It Comes to Protein, How Much Is Too Much?” Harvard Health, 30 Mar. 2020, s-too-much.

“Protein in Diet: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

Schoenfeld, Brad Jon, and Alan Albert Aragon.

“How Much Protein Can the Body Use in a Single Meal for Muscle-Building? Implications for Daily Protein Distribution.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 15, no. 1, 27 Feb. 2018,