How Much Protein Do You Need?


Quick Answer

The amount of protein needed each day depends on a person's age and sex. Adult women need approximately 46 grams of protein per day, while adult men need 56 grams, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

Infants and children need less protein than adults. WebMD says babies need around 10 grams per day. School-age children should consume anywhere from 19 to 34 grams of protein per day. The recommendation for teens is 46 grams per day for girls and 52 grams per day for boys. Many foods contain protein, but some are healthier than others. WebMD recommends eating lean meats to avoid increasing saturated fat intake. The CDC notes that protein is also found in eggs, dairy products, seeds, nuts, fish and legumes.

Proteins are made up of small units called amino acids. A protein containing all of the essential amino acids is considered complete, according to the CDC. Examples of complete proteins include cheese, milk and poultry. Incomplete proteins are lacking in at least one of the essential amino acids. Eating two or more incomplete proteins during the same day creates a complementary protein, defined as two or more incomplete proteins that come together to provide all of the necessary amino acids. For example, someone might pair a serving of rice with a serving of dry beans to get the different amino acids found in each food.

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