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Recommended Protein IntakeRecommended Protein Intake


Recommended Protein Intake

Protein is necessary to help the body make new cells and to repair cell damage. While protein requirements increase during times of growth and development (youth and pregnancy), protein is also important during other times of physical change, such as weight loss and bodybuilding.

Protein Needs for Adults

While the body stores fats and carbohydrates, there is no such reserve for proteins. Consequently, you should meet your protein needs each day.

Adequate Daily Protein (g) Per Pound of Lean Body Weight
CategoryAdequate Intake (g/lb)
Vegetarian Adult0.4
Endurance & Strength-training Athletes0.5 - 0.8
Vegetarian Endurance & Strength-training Athletes0.55 - 0.88
Lean Body Weight  =  Body Weight  –  Body Fat

Example: Non-vegetarian adult with 150 lbs. of lean body weight

150 lbs x 0.35 = 52.5 grams of protein per day

Quality Protein Sources

Good sources of protein include nuts, beans, meat, soy, dairy, and eggs.

Foods that contain all 20 amino acids are called complete proteins, while those missing amino acids are referred to as incomplete proteins. When incomplete proteins are combined to provide all 20 amino acids, they are called complementary proteins.

Complete Protein Examples

  • Animal-based foods (including meat, dairy, and eggs)
  • Quinoa
  • Soy (including tofu and tempeh)
  • Buckwheat

Complementary Protein Examples

  • Bread and peanut butter
  • Rice and beans
  • Ezekiel bread (wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt)

Vegan diets are often low in the essential amino acids methionine and lysine. Vegans can meet their methionine needs by eating brazil nuts, hemp seeds, oats, and sesame seeds; and they can reach their lysine goals by eating tempeh, seitan, lentils, and black beans.

Additional Resources

To learn more about protein or other nutrients, please visit our Nutrient Resources.


Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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