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How Much Protein Do We Really Need?

Curious about protein intake? Let’s delve into the facts. Learn about protein needs, myths, and diverse sources in this short guide.

Protein is like the building blocks of life, crucial for various bodily functions. It helps repair and build muscle tissue, produces hormones, supports our immune system, and much more. But how much protein do we truly require for a healthy, balanced diet? Let’s see.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein in adults stands at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, for a 70-kilogram (154-pound) adult, that translates to 56 grams of protein per day. This amount covers the basic protein needs for most individuals.

The Protein Myth

A century-old myth claimed that everyone needed copious amounts of protein for muscle development. This belief stemmed from a study by the German chemist Carl Voit in 1912. However, Voit’s research had flaws, as it didn’t account for factors like physical activity and calorie intake. Recent studies have debunked this myth, showing that we don’t need excessive protein to build and maintain muscle mass.

Protein Sources and Health

Meat is a rich protein source but can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Over consumption of meat has been linked to various health issues, including heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting red meat consumption to 500 grams (17.6 ounces) per week.

Over consumption of meat has been linked to various health issues, including heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers


Interestingly, meat consumption varies globally. For instance, the average American consumes about 170 grams (6 ounces) of red meat daily, while the average Indian consumes just 4 grams (0.1 ounces). Yet, the health outcomes in these countries differ significantly. India, has a lower rate of these diseases.

Protein Variety

Protein comes in various forms, from animal-based sources like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products to plant-based options like legumes, nuts, and seeds. Plant-based proteins are gaining popularity due to their lower saturated fat and cholesterol content compared to meat.

Our Protein Needs

Our individual protein needs depend on factors like activity level and health conditions. Still, most people can meet their requirements through a well-balanced diet. If we’re uncertain about our protein needs or have dietary questions, we should consult a qualified healthcare professional.

In the grand scheme of things, protein is essential, but we may not need as much as we think. The RDA of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight should suffice for most individuals. Protein sources vary, so we should explore different options to find what works best for us. When in doubt, we should seek guidance from a healthcare professional to ensure we meet our dietary needs.

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