Most people—at least in the U.S.—eat more than enough protein to meet their nutritional needs. Consuming too little protein can cause changes in your skin pigment, a decrease in lean muscle mass, fatigue and changes in the texture or color of your hair, according to MedlinePlus. However, eating too much protein can also cause health problems. If you eat a variety of high-protein foods, it’s pretty easy to eat 100 grams of protein per day -- and that's safe for most healthy men and women.
Maximum Safe Amount
Although there’s no tolerable upper intake level for protein, a review published in a 2006 edition of the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” reports that it’s safe to consume up to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day -- about 1.14 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Therefore, even a petite woman who weighs 100 pounds can safely eat up to 114 grams of protein per day.
For some people, 100 grams of protein per day is too much—and can be dangerous. People with chronic kidney disease, who are not on dialysis, may have to reduce their protein intake to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight -- about 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day, according to MedlinePlus. Therefore, a petite woman with kidney disease and not on dialysis weighing 100 pounds can safely consume up to 45 grams of protein per day.
Most adults—even athletes—only need up to 2.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. A position statement published in a 2007 edition of the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” reports that protein intakes of 1.4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight are safe and can optimize athletic performance in people who exercise regularly; this amount of protein equals 0.64 to 0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day, or 77 to 109 grams of protein per day for a 120-pound woman who exercises regularly. The Institute of Medicine recommends healthy women eat at least 46 grams of protein and men consume a minimum of 56 grams of protein each day.
Protein in Foods
You can reach 100 grams of protein pretty easily by eating several high-protein foods during the course of the day. For example, eating 3 ounces of chicken breast, 3 ounces of lean ground beef, 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese, 1 cup of low-fat yogurt and two eggs provides you with about 101 grams of protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Other high-protein foods include fish, seafood, turkey, seitan, soy products, low-fat milk, reduced-fat cheese, legumes, nuts, seeds and peanut butter.
- MedlinePlus: Kwashiorkor
- International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism: A Review of Issues of Dietary Protein Intake in Humans
- MedlinePlus: Diet - Chronic Kidney Disease
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Strength Building and Muscle Mass
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.