test-How Much Protein Do I Need?
Food & Nutrition
How Much Protein Do I Need?
Swanson staff • December 12, 2016

How Much Protein Do I Need?

To give an idea of how important protein is to the human body, consider the word’s origin: protos. That’s Greek for “first,” as in of foremost importance. Protein is responsible for the muscles throughout your body, as well as other parts like hair, hormones, blood, all manner of connective tissues and even the enzymes that power your digestive system.1

Despite all that, most people continue to equate protein with bodybuilding, powerlifting and “bulking up”. True, protein is an essential part of any bodybuilder’s nutrition plan, but protein is equally essential for everyone. The question is, how much protein do we really need?

The answer to that question depends on your own particular genetics and lifestyle.

General Guidelines

In general terms, most Americans consume sufficient amounts of protein each day, whether from diet or even protein supplements like pea protein or whey protein. Generally speaking, the average man should consume about 56 grams per day, while the typical woman needs about 46 grams of protein per day.2 For both men and women, it's recommended that about 10-35% of daily calories come from protein-rich foods.3

Which Foods are High in Protein?

natural sources of protein

Here's a quick list of some foods which are high in protein to help you make sure you're getting enough each day:4

  • Eight ounces of meat (beef, lamb, fish, turkey or chicken) = about 56 grams of protein
  • Two eggs = about 12 grams of protein
  • Two slices of bread = about 6 grams of protein
  • Five ounces of Greek yogurt = about 12-18 grams of protein
  • Eight ounces of cow's milk = about 8 grams of protein
  • One cup of cottage cheese = about 28 grams of protein
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter = about 7 grams of protein
  • One cup of lentils = about 18 grams of protein
  • One cup of rice or pasta = about 9 grams of protein

How Much Protein Does a Pregnant Woman Need?

Women who are pregnant should increase their daily intake of protein to about 60 grams per day.5 It's also recommended that breastfeeding women increase their protein levels to about two to three servings per day.6

This increase will allow their bodies to cope with the demands faced by pregnancy and breastfeeding in a way that will better ensure the continued health of both mother and baby.

How Much Protein do Athletes Need?

Broadly speaking, athletes should aim for about one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. So, for example, if you weigh 150lbs, your target protein intake might be about 150 grams.7 

For bodybuilders, the guidelines are a little different depending on factors like age, weight, etc. In general, bodybuilders are recommended to consume about 25-35% of their daily calories in the form of protein.8

Once again, women will need slightly less than males, even as athletes. It's always good, therefore, to consult with your doctor before beginning any major health regimen. 

The Takeaway

Protein is one of the most foundational and important elements of your body. Making sure you consume enough of it each day is equally important.

As a good rule of thumb, protein can be sourced from a variety of meat and dairy products, but plant-based sources are just as plentiful and important to remember. Protein supplements can also be useful to plug any gaps that may exist in your healthy diet.

Here's to your continued success!

Always serving our customers,

Your friends at Swanson

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


1. What Protein Does. WebMD. Read source

2. Protein. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Read source

3. How Much Protein Do I Need? Mayo Clinic. Read source

4. Protein Content. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Read source

5. Eating Right Before and During Pregnancy. UCSF Health. Read source

6. Nutrition Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers. UCSF Health. Read source

7. Protein and the Athlete. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Read source

8. How Much Protein Does a Bodybuilder Need? Healthy Eating. Read source

Updated 4/12/22