The building blocks of cells, tissues and organs, proteins are one of the body’s major VIPs. Without them, your body isn’t able to recover after a tough workout or heal after an injury -- and you can forget about maintaining your manicure or perfecting a perfectly shiny mane. Maintaining a healthy daily intake of protein can help prevent these unfortunate effects.
Convert your current weight in pounds to kilograms -- and use your real weight, not the one proudly displayed on your driver’s license. The conversion factor is 1 kilogram to 2.2 pounds -- so divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to find your weight in kilograms. For example, a weight of 130 pounds converts to 59 kilograms (130/2.2 = 59). As an added benefit, this smaller number is much more enjoyable to consider.
Multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8 to determine the number of grams of protein you should eat per day. For a body weight of 59 kilograms, you should aim for a daily protein intake of roughly 47 grams. Don’t fret -- it’s surprisingly easy to fit this much protein into your day.
Eat more protein if your body needs it. Certain extenuating circumstances require more of this nutrient. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding or people who are very physically active might require more protein than the standard 0.8 grams per kilogram. If you frequently hit the gym or chase your toddler from morning until night, make sure you’re getting the right fuel.
Divide your daily protein intake between your day’s meals and snacks, and eat a good variety of protein-rich foods. So-called complete protein contains all the amino acids that your body requires. Sources include meat, milk, cheese, eggs and soy. Other protein-rich foods such as rice, beans, nuts and seeds contain some, but not all, of the essential amino acids. If you're a vegan or a vegetarian, eat a range of plant proteins. Classic combinations, such as beans and rice, provide a full complement of essential amino acids.
- Talk to your doctor or dietitian for a more individualized approach to planning your protein intake. Although 0.8 grams per kilogram is a common rule, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy nutrition. Your physician can help you determine your ideal daily protein intake based on your current health status, lifestyle and level of activity.
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.