How to set a daily protein goal and hit it every day
Among athletes, lifters, and active people, protein is widely considered the holy grail of nutrients. Protein is built from smaller organic compounds called amino acids. These compounds are essential for building and repairing muscle, improving strength , and controlling your weight and body composition .
Unfortunately, many people are confused about protein intake. Some follow outdated guidelines set decades ago, while many Americans are actually eating too much protein .
If you’re depending on protein to hit your fitness goals, there are two key things you need to know: how much you need, and how to consistently consume that amount .
How much protein do I really need?
Lots of (digital) ink has been spilled on this question in the health and fitness community. The answer depends on who you ask:
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, about 0.35 grams per pound.
The American College of Sports Medicine suggests people who lift weights regularly or are training for an athletic event should aim for 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Studies over the years indicate there may not be much of a difference in muscle gains  or strength improvements if intake is below 0.5 grams of protein per pound 
Your daily protein requirements also depend on your age and gender. For most normal active people, 0.3 – 0.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is a good starting point. You can adjust from there depending on how your body responds
Tips for consistent protein intake
It doesn’t matter what your daily protein target is if you only hit it once in a while. Consistently getting enough protein is especially important for athletes or those looking to gain strength and muscle. But research has also shown that consuming at least 25g of protein with every meal can slow the deterioration of skeletal muscle mass due to age .
Once you’ve decided on a protein target to aim for each day, you’ll need to plan your diet to hit this goal consistently. Here are a few tips:
Develop a routine.
Make it a habit to drink a shake or eat a high-protein meal at a certain time of day. You may need to stray from it now and then, but following a routine is easier than starting a new plan for protein intake every day.
Don’t force yourself to eat things you don’t like. You don’t have to will yourself to gulp down a shake or bar that you don’t enjoy. Protein is an abundant nutrient - find the high-protein meals and/or supplements that you personally enjoy and use those to help you hit your protein targets.
Experiment. If you’re training for an event that’s many weeks away or want to add muscle mass, you’ll need to maintain sufficient protein intake for many days. While habit is powerful, eating and drinking the same things over and over can get boring. Don’t be afraid to incorporate a new source of protein by trying out a new recipe or supplement.
Protein is personal
It can be intimidating to sift through all the information available on protein intake. The key is deciding what’s right for your individual needs. You have to set your own protein targets by evaluating your activity level and fitness goals.
Once you know what you need, it’s simply a matter of planning your days and meals to support those goals. That’s also a matter of preference – but with a good routine, some trial and error, and foods and supplements tailored to your specific needs, protein can be the foundation that lets you build a healthy body and lifestyle.
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