I wish I had a simple answer to tell you exactly how much protein you should be consuming in a given day. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple number like 8oz per day that worked for everyone?
Of course, it isn’t quite that simple. How much protein you should eat depends on your height / size, how active you are etc. It’s also influenced by your goals. Are you trying to lose weight? Gain weight and build muscle mass? If you work out a lot, particularly to build and tone muscles, you will need more protein than someone sitting at a desk all day.
That said, there are some general guidelines. Start there and then simply listen to your body and see how you feel. If you are satisfied with that amount of lean meat, fish, egg, and dairy, and feel good, then stick with it. If you’re always hungry or feeling sluggish and tired, consider adding a little more and see how you feel. If you’re gaining weight, it may be time to watch your diet, including your protein intake a little more closely. While it’s hard to overeat on lean protein, it is possible.
The “official” recommendation is to aim for is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Step on the scale, get out your calculator and figure out how many grams of protein you should be eating per day. That’s your number and how you divide it up is up to you. Use this as a general guideline, a starting point and then adjust from there.
Does this mean you need to weigh every piece of meat you consume and keep track of how many eggs you’ve had? Of course not. That said, I do find it helpful to weigh and keep track with the help of a food journal for a few days or even weeks. It won’t take you long to get a pretty good idea of what 15g of chicken breast look like on your plate. Measure and weigh a few times in the beginning until you get the same feel for it. Then check in every once in a while to make sure you’re still on track.
If losing weight is your main goal, you may want to measure and keep track a little more regularly to make sure you’re still losing. If the scale stops moving down for more than a week or two, go back to keeping a food journal and measuring your food to see where you’re sneaking in more calories than your body needs.