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Daily Protein Intake for Weight Loss

author image Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.
Daily Protein Intake for Weight Loss
Healthy Asian chicken wraps. Photo Credit: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

Although you’ll lose weight by reducing your daily calorie intake, boosting your dietary protein can help you achieve your weight-loss goals. A 2009 study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” reports that protein not only increases satiety, but it also leads to greater energy expenditure. The amount of protein you should eat for effective weight loss depends on your weight-loss calorie needs and your body weight.

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Grams Per Pound

Getting more protein than the recommended dietary allowance is often beneficial for overweight people trying to shed pounds. The protein RDA is 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, which equates to about 0.36 grams per pound. Studies published in 2013 in both “Obesity” and “The Journal of Nutrition” report that ingesting 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram, equivalent to 0.55 to 0.64 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily, helps spare lean body mass during weight loss.

Weight-Loss Calorie Needs

Regardless of the amount of protein you eat, your total calorie intake determines how much weight you’ll lose. Aim to reduce your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily to drop about 1 to 2 pounds weekly. For many adults, eating 1,000 to 1,600 calories per day is often effective for weight loss, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Because men often require more calories than women during weight loss, they usually require closer to 1,600 calories daily.

Maximum Safe Amount

The maximum safe amount of protein you should eat daily equals 35 percent of your total weight-loss calorie needs, according to the Institute of Medicine. Protein provides 4 calories in each gram. When eating 1,200 calories daily, aim for a maximum of 105 grams of protein per day, and when consuming a 1,600-calorie weight-loss diet, eat no more than 140 grams of protein daily.

Healthy Protein-Rich Foods

Choosing healthy, protein-rich foods will help you successfully achieve your weight-loss goals. Examples include egg whites, skinless poultry, seafood, lean meats, low-fat dairy foods, soy products or seitan, legumes, seeds and nuts. For example, a 3-ounce portion of grilled chicken breast contains 27 grams of protein, 1 cup of low-fat yogurt provides 13 grams and 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains 28 grams of dietary protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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