Protein is a cornerstone of healthy eating and weight loss and is readily available in many of the foods you eat, including poultry, meat, dairy, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and even whole grains. Research shows higher-protein meals or snacks can also help reduce hunger and extend the feeling of satiety.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men ages 19–50 is 56 grams per day, and it’s 46 grams per day for women. To get a more specific recommendation for what you need, you can calculate it based on your body weight, says Lindsey Kane, RD. “Generally speaking, you need .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (which is about .4 grams per pound of body weight).” This translates to about 56 grams of protein for someone who weighs 154 pounds.
YOU’RE LOSING MUSCLE MASS
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are essential for building muscle. This means that if you’re not getting adequate protein, your muscle mass could suffer. “You might notice this as decreased strength, change in weight or even how your clothes are fitting,” says Randy Evans, RD.
YOU’VE BECOME PRONE TO STRESS FRACTURES
In addition to calcium, research shows a protein-rich diet is beneficial for overall adult bone health. “Without sufficient protein to provide energy to our organs and brain, the body will look for other sources, and one place it borrows from is skeletal muscle tissue,” says Cheryl Mussatto, RD, author of “The Nourished Brain,” and “The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook.” “If you are consistently running low on protein, over time, your bones will be susceptible to injuries such as stress fractures and breaks.”