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how much protein should i eat to lose weight

How Much Protein Should I Eat to Lose Weight? – Learn the Basics


Protein is one of the most important nutrients we can add to our diet to recover from a workout. While this may be well known, it can be harder to determine how much protein your body needs. So we are going to go through what different amounts of protein can do for your body as well as how much to have in accordance to your own fitness goals. So if you are thinking, "how much protein should I eat to lose weight?" or "how much protein do I need to gain muscle?" then read on!

The Importance of Protein

Many of us have heard about how important protein is for health and fitness regardless of whether your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle mass. We will go through the process of what protein does and how it interacts with the body. This process highlights the importance of protein and will help answer the question of "how much protein should I eat to lose weight?" as well its counterpart on gaining muscle mass.

The Process


When you work out via cardio or weightlifting, your body burns through protein as your muscles work. As you stretch or push your muscles, proteins are used or destroyed. This means that when you finish your workout, you have less protein than you started with. In order to continue to gain strength, lose weigh, and build muscle, you need to replenish the proteins you lost so your muscles can rebuild (and rebuild stronger).

The Reasoning

Sandwich with measurement

Unlike burning carbs or fat (though you do need to replenish those to a degree too), protein is designed for muscle function and growth. It can be easy to fall into the reasoning of taking in less carbs, fat, or protein after a workout because if you gain as much as you lost, then you are back to square one, right? Not exactly.

In terms of protein, if your body does not have enough, muscles cannot rebuild after being pulled apart during a workout (which is required for muscle growth). The amount of protein you take in after a workout can determine their growth and build rate. However, this does not mean if you just down a lot of protein after each workout, you will start seeing results. There is a needed balance, which we will go over in this article.

The Bottom Line

Man try to open a glass container

You need protein, whether you are asking, "how much protein should I eat to lose weight?" or "how much protein do I need to gain muscle mass?" Your protein count may vary between those two questions, but either way and in either case, skipping protein or overdosing your protein intake can be detrimental to your health and fitness goals.

Additional Information

One thing to note when looking into what protein to put in your diet is that quality always trumps quantity. There are different types of proteins that you can get from different foods.

Animal proteins are the most well-rounded proteins and include the amino acids your body needs to function well and be healthy. If you are avoiding animal meat, then many vegetables have proteins as well. You will need to take in more as well as combine them with soybean products, lentils or bean products to get enough of the needed amino acids.  Protein supplements are also an option, though few people beyond bodybuilders and athletes need them.

Protein for Losing Weight

If you are looking to slim down, you have probably looked into limiting carbs. Regardless of that, think of protein in a different way. While you may not need as much protein after a workout as someone who is wanting to bulk up, you do still need to replenish what your body has used up in order for your body to recover and achieve the goals you are going for.

The Reasoning

Eating protein when you are trying to lose weight will boost your metabolism, which means you will burn more calories not only at the gym but also during your day-to-day activities. Protein can also help curb your appetite because it can keep you full much longer than both carbs and fat. In addition, it can also keep you from gaining weight in the first place by that increase in metabolism combined with less appetite.

How Much Protein Should I Eat to Lose Weight?

Person with measuring tape

Now onto the big question. You know you need to eat protein, and you know all of the benefits it can give you, but what happens if you do not get the right amount? To calculate how much protein you need on a daily basis, multiply your daily caloric intake by 0.075. Protein should take up about 30% of your daily caloric intake to be effective in weight loss. If having a consistent daily caloric intake is just not in the plan for you and you want to know more than "how much protein should I eat to lose weight" but maybe "how much protein should I eat to lose weight and gain muscle?" here is another way to look at it:

  • If you are a sedentary male or female with average health and no fitness goals, shoot for around 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  • If you are a healthy adult who is doing some form of regular exercise and is trying to improve their body, aim for around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight
  • If you are a healthy adult female who has goals to lose body fat, get toned or build muscle while losing fat, go for around 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  • If you are a healthy adult male who has goals to lose body fat, get toned or build muscle while losing fat, go for around 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight

It may sound confusing (math always does), but here is how it works:  if there is a woman looking to build muscle while losing fat and she weighs 130 pounds, then she would multiply 130 by 1.2 to get around 156 grams of protein. This is how much protein she would need to consume every day in order to accomplish that goal.

As a side note, a truly obese individual looking to work towards an ideal weight would use his or her ideal weight instead of their current weight to make these calculations.

It should also be noted that this does not mean you need to add 156 grams of protein to what you are already eating. Try replacing some carbs or fat with protein instead to get the balance you need to achieve these goals.

Protein for Muscle Gain and Strength

Protein is a diverse nutrient. Along with helping you lose weight and tone up, it is also a key factor to gaining muscle mass, bulking up and building strength.

The Reasoning

As we have mentioned, protein is necessary for your muscles to function. So if you are looking for your muscles to function better or to grow healthily, increasing your intake of protein is a sure way to do just that. Think of protein as the key ingredient to your muscles' health. If you do not feed your muscles or do not feed your muscles enough, they can stop growth or even move backwards in terms of progress.

How Much Protein Do I Need to Eat to Gain Muscle Mass?

Woman flexing muscle

If you are looking more into what ratios of protein you need to gain muscle mass, the calculations are a little different. Simply put, if you want muscle mass you need to consume more protein than your muscles burn during a workout and day-to-day activities. Also, if you are looking to keep your muscle mass while losing fat, you will need to adjust your protein intake because protein can help keep you from losing that coveted muscle mass.

We recommend taking in one gram of protein for every pound of body weight. There are no hard numbers in this case due to inconsistent findings through various studies. Some suggest that taking in more than 0.8 grams per pound does nothing for muscle mass, while others suggest that you need a little more than 1 gram of protein to grow muscle mass and strength. We found 1 gram per pound to be a good medium between two possibly correct answers.

As is the case with the question of "how much protein should I eat to lose weight," this calculation changes slightly if you are carrying a lot of extra weight. Instead of using your actual weight, use your lean mass as that is what mainly determines how much protein you need on a daily basis.


As is the case with many diet, fitness and health programs, results from these changes in diet may vary depending on how much you exercise, what else you are eating and where your overall health. However, eating the right amount of protein for what your goals are is important not only for reaching those goals but also for a healthy body composition---and functioning.

So, while you may be asking, "how much protein should I eat to lose weight?" or be wondering what you need to adjust to gain muscle mass, know that protein is not only required for these goals. It is required for a healthy lifestyle and should never be skipped or omitted from a diet.