Protein is a necessary nutrient and should be a regular part of your dietary intake. The amount you need to consume depends on many factors. For example, pregnant and nursing women require more per pound of body weight due to protein's role in the growth and development of body tissue. Extremely active individuals such as marathoners or professional athletes may need more protein in their diets because their energy requirements are greater than the average individual. However, for most people, there are suggested daily intake quantities that can guide you to healthier food choices.
Mayoclinic.com suggests that you get 10 to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake from protein, which contains four calories per gram. To calculate the number of protein calories in a food, multiply protein grams by four. Thus, if a food contains 8 grams of protein, it would contain 32 calories of protein. If you typically consume approximately 1,600 calories a day, you would want to consume between 160 and 560 protein calories to meet your Recommended Dietary Allowance.
RDA of Protein
The Centers for Disease Control suggests following the RDA for protein that are based on age and gender. Because RDAs are given in grams, using them as guidelines may be easier for keeping track of protein intake than making calculations. Women over the age of 18 years should consume 46 grams of protein a day, while men over age 18 need 56 grams.
Dietary Reference Intake
Another simple formula that can be used to determine how much protein to eat is offered by the Dietary Reference Intake formula. This uses your body weight to determine your protein need. Take your weight and divide it by 2.2 to convert it into kilograms. Multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8 grams to find your specific required protein amount. For example, a 170-pound woman would divide 170 by 2.2 and then multiply that number by 0.8 grams. In this example, the woman should consume approximately 62 grams of protein a day.
Protein is a vital nutrient for such important body processes as tissue creation and development, muscle maintenance and repair, infection and illness prevention and creation of energy. You should eat an adequate amount of protein daily. Choose the intake tracking method that works best for you and make it a part of your daily dietary planning. Note that if you eat more protein than is required for healthy body functioning, you will not receive extra health benefits. The excess will be stored as fat if it is not used for energy.
Ellen Topness has been a counselor in the mental health field for more than 25 years. She has a Master of Arts in counseling. Throughout her career, Topness has enjoyed writing articles, poems and vignettes for pleasure. She also released a new ebook, "A Natural Disaster: Learning to Survive Myself."