How Much Protein Do I Need?

Protein has been a popular and trending topic in the news and research for some time. Some sources tell us that we eat too much protein, while other sources tell us that we are not getting enough.

The truth is somewhere in the middle: protein is very important, yet we do not need excessive amounts. Guidelines say that 10% – 35% of our calories should come from protein. Americans get about 16% of calories from protein. This means that, on average, Americans do get enough protein, but our intake is not too high. In fact, some new research suggests that optimum protein intake may be around 20% of calories. 

You can also calculate how many grams of protein you need based on your body weight. Use the chart below to figure out how much protein you need.

Protein Recommendations for Healthy Adults (in grams)*:

Weight Minimum
optimal intake
Weight Minimum
optimal intake
90 lb3349 – 61190 lb69103 – 129
100 lb3654 – 68200 lb73109 – 137
110 lb4060 – 75210 lb76114 – 143
120 lb4466 – 83220 lb80120 – 150
130 lb4871 – 89230 lb84126 – 158
140 lb5177 – 96240 lb87131 – 164
150 lb5582 – 102250 lb91137 – 171
160 lb5888 – 110260 lb94142 – 177
170 lb6292 – 116270 lb98148 – 185
180 lb6698 – 123280 lb102– 190

Protein Sources and Serving Size

It’s best to get your protein from foods rather than protein powders and bars! Beans, nuts, eggs, fish, whole grains, poultry, meat, dairy and even some vegetables are all important sources of protein. Choose a wide variety of protein foods, because each one has different benefits and contains different proteins and amino acids. Use this guide to see how many grams of protein are in various foods. Protein amounts may vary slightly based on type and/or brands.

Did You Know?

  • Protein needs are higher for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Adults over the age of 65 may need at least 1-gram protein/kg of body weight instead of the recommended minimum intake of 0.8 grams.
  • Vegetarians and vegans should eat a wide variety of protein sources and may need more than the recommended amount of protein, because the recommended amount of protein is based on a diet that includes animal proteins.
  • Athlete’s needs vary based on activity. There is no added benefit to consuming excessive protein–even most athletes do not need more than 35% of calories from protein (or 3 g/kg body weight).