Proteins are not only important for competitive athletes or bodybuilders, they are an important component for building cells and our immune system.
Adults between the ages of 19 and 65 should consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Especially older people, pregnant women, children, people with weak immune systems as well as very active people should make sure to consume enough proteins.
Max von Fritschen is a physiotherapist in Berlin. As a sports physiotherapist, he also looks after both a Berlin sports team and individual athletes. Von Fritschen is himself a former competitive athlete. Is currently involved in triathlon. He knows: Besides exercise, a balanced diet with the right nutrients is enormously important for health. For Business Insider, here's why protein matters – and how many you need to stay healthy.
Polypeptide, amino acid chain, protein, or simply: protein. Everyone knows it and especially in recent years the hype about protein powder and protein bars has increased so that it can now be found in various supermarkets. Most people probably think of protein powder in terms of competitive athletes or bodybuilders, but the macronutrient is important in many other processes in our body besides muscle building.
Proteins fulfill various tasks in our body
Protein is used to build cells and ties, including antibodies, enzymes and hormones. In addition to their purpose as a "building material", proteins also serve as a source of energy in times of energy deficit, but in comparison to carbohydrates and fats, they provide a higher level of energy than proteins
Four calories per one gram of protein Relatively little energy.
The body needs more time to produce energy from proteins, which is why it prefers to turn to fats and carbohydrates when energy levels are too low. In addition to cellular functions, increased protein intake leads to healthier aging, increases performance, and regulates your appetite, which can help you maintain or even lose weight. Protein also protects you from losing muscle mass when you are in a calorie deficit.
But how much protein does a healthy adult actually need?? The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for adults between 19 and 65 years of age. This is the lower minimum for intake. You also need protein to avoid getting sick – as the basic substance of antibodies, proteins have an important function in the immune system.
This is how much protein your body needs daily, according to the DGE:
– Adults between 19 and 65 years: At least 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight
– People older than 65: one to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight –
Pregnant: 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight at the beginning of pregnancy and up to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight at the end – Kids: Up to 2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight
The Canadian Nutrition Society, on the other hand, recommends between 1.5 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for adults – twice as much as the DGE – to ensure an optimal supply of protein.
How to know how much protein you really need?
As a general rule, you should make sure that you eat enough protein during periods of high physical exertion. The more active you are and the harder your body is working, the higher your protein requirement – even when your immune system is running at full speed.
If you are ill, you should therefore consume up to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to support your immune system. If you are not very active, you should pay attention to a sufficient intake of at least 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
For the athletes among you, there is also an increased need for protein due to higher activity levels. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends at least 1.4 to two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day in order to increase athletic performance and support adaptation to training. For bodybuilders, values of up to three grams of protein per kilogram of body weight are often recommended in order to support muscle growth.
And how can you cover your daily requirement?
Different protein sources can be useful for this purpose. For example, animal proteins in the form of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, or plant sources such as legumes, oatmeal, soy, or protein-rich vegetables like spinach and broccoli. Important in the selection of foods are the essential amino acids – that is, those that the body cannot produce itself and that are needed to build various proteins. These are, for example, leucine, lyisine or tryptophan.
To find out how well you're currently meeting your protein needs, one option would be to track the food you eat for a day using an app to get a feel for how well you're providing your body with this important nutrient. The result might surprise one or the other of you.
By the way, you can also recognize an increased protein requirement by possible food cravings or a weakened immune system, which can manifest itself in constant infections or wound healing problems.
Due to the highly satiating effect of proteins, it can be quite difficult to accommodate your daily protein needs in just one meal. This means that if you need, for example, 200 grams of protein per day, you should consume it distributed throughout the day. It is recommended to eat between 25 and 40 grams of protein per meal.
Proteins are more than just muscle building blocks. They help you maintain your weight, stay healthy and age healthily. Depending on how active and old you are and whether you are pregnant, you need between 0.8 and 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Especially when you are ill, you should make sure you eat enough protein to support your immune system.