If you’ve turned on the television in the past couple of years you’ve definitely seen it: food companies releasing new products filled with protein from protein enriched yogurt to milk and even to our favorite snacks. You would think that America is living in a protein deficient dystopia. But what is protein and do we need more of it to be living a healthy lifestyle?
Protein is an essential macromolecule made up of long chains of amino acids that support a wide variety of critical functions within the human body such as DNA replication, metabolic responses and molecule transportation. Translated to English, it is necessary for one to live.
According to the latest survey, the average American male consumes 100 grams of protein and the average female 70 grams. The average weight for Americans males is 196 pounds and for American females is 166 pounds. The recommended daily intake for protein to maintain a healthy lifestyle is .8g/kgBW/day (body weight). After doing some quick math using the average weights of American males and females, we find that the average recommended intake of protein for males is 71 grams of protein for males and 60 grams for females. Even if you are trying to build muscle, the literature states that the maximum effective amount of protein needed to build muscle is 2.2g/kgBW/day or 1g/lbBW/day. So if our average American male was trying to build some serious muscle, he would only need 96 more grams of protein than what he’s already eating. To put this into context, 8 ounces of grilled chicken breast contains about 72 grams of protein and most whey proteins contain 30g of protein per scoop. So, for our male example above, with a protein shake after his workout and a piece of grilled chicken for dinner, he can easily hit his recommended daily intake.