The RDA, or recommended dietary allowance, for protein is specific to both your age and gender. In general, adult women need 46 g of protein per day, and adult men need 56 g per day. A specific amount can be calculated on an individual basis. This number is based on your weight, so it is unique for everyone. A quick calculation will determine how much protein you need each day.
Get an accurate body weight. It's most accurate to weigh yourself at the beginning of the day with an empty bladder, and average your weight readings over a few days to minimize the effect of temporary fluctuations in your weight.
Convert the weight from pounds to kilograms. There are 2.2 lb. per 1 kg. So if you weigh 150 lb., divide 150 by 2.2, to get 68 kg.
Plug the weight in kilograms into the conversion calculation. Sedentary adults should get 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, while endurance runners and strength training athletes need up to 1.4 or 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram, respectively.
For the 68 kg calculated above, multiply 68 times 0.8, which equals 54.4 g. Thus a sedentary 150-lb. person needs about 54 g of protein per day.
Look at how the total protein RDA calculated compares to the protein gram amounts in foods you eat on a regular basis. Check the nutrition labels on your food to determine the amount of protein found in a each serving. Calculate your daily protein intake by writing down your food for the day, looking at the corresponding nutrition labels to determine its protein content, and adding up the amount of protein you consumed in each meal.
Don't be concerned with getting exactly the RDA amount of protein each day. This number is meant to be an average, so one day you could have a little more protein and another a little less and still be healthy.
Too much or too little protein can be bad for the body. Too little protein won't provide the body with enough amino acids to make new cells, such as for skin and nails. Too much protein can be hard for the kidneys to process on a regular basis.
Your specific protein needs might change according to your activity level and lifestyle. To calculate a protein intake specific to your physiology -- and to receive a meal plan based on your needs -- visit a health care professional.
Consume protein from a variety of sources -- including lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy, nuts, beans and legumes -- instead of counting on just one or two foods to provide your daily protein. Adding variety to your diet helps you consume a range of other nutrients, such as vitamins, so that your body gets all the nutrition it needs.