What is My Recommended Daily Protein Intake?

As a dietitian, I am often asked, “How much protein do I need?” The answer is: It depends.

Your recommended daily protein intake depends on your age, gender, and activity level, but for the average person, science suggests 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient. What does that mean? Here’s an easy breakdown:

  • Babies need around 10 grams a day
  • School-age kids need 19-34 grams a day
  • Teenage boys need up to 52 grams a day
  • Teenage girls need around 46 grams a day
  • Adult men need around 56 grams a day
  • Adult women need around 46 grams a day (closer to 71 grams, if pregnant or breastfeeding)

Most people associate the importance of protein in the diet with its ability to help build and maintain muscle, but it’s more than just that. Protein is integral for making hair, nails, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, enzymes and more.

To reach your recommended daily protein intake, here are some sample menus for various age groups within the recommended protein levels:

School-Age:

  • Breakfast: Cereal with 8 ounces of milk and a banana
  • Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrots
  • Snack: Smoothie made with 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Dinner: Veggie quesadilla made with Colby jack cheese

Teenage:

  • Breakfast: Cereal with 8 ounces of milk and a banana
  • Snack: Container Greek yogurt
  • Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrots and 8 ounces chocolate milk
  • Snack: Smoothie made with ½ cup yogurt
  • Dinner: Veggie Quesadilla

Adult:

  • Breakfast: Cereal with 8 ounces milk and banana
  • Snack: Latte made with milk
  • Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly with carrots and hummus
  • Snack: Container Greek yogurt
  • Dinner: Veggie quesadilla and black beans

What is your favorite way to get your recommended daily protein intake in your meals and snacks? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Lanier Dabruzzi, MS,  RD, LD

Lanier Dabruzzi