How Much Protein You Need in a Day

And exactly how to get it.

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Wondering how much protein you should be getting each day? Here's your go-to guide.


Most of us should be in the "moderate protein" range, but people on weight-loss diets may want to go a bit higher.

Moderate Protein

Who it's good for: most people

Take your weight (lb) x 0.5 = ___ grams of protein per day

Most Americans in their twenties and thirties get this level of protein already. Once you reach your forties and fifties, it's particularly important to make sure you're still hitting this mark, since that's when age-related muscle loss speeds up, says Stuart Phillips, PhD, a nutrition researcher at McMaster University in Ontario.

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Higher Protein

Who it's good for: dieters

Take your weight (lb) x 0.6 = ___ grams of protein per day

People on reduced-calorie diets can lose lean muscle while they're losing fat. A slightly higher protein intake helps prevent that.

These are not official U.S. guidelines; they're the amounts that the latest studies and top U.S. protein researchers have identified as a smart daily intake for muscle repair and protection. Both fall well within the IOM's safe intake range for protein. People with diabetes or prediabetes should talk to a dietitian or other health care provider, though, since moderate to high levels of dietary protein can increase their risk of kidney damage.

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It's easier than you think to get enough. Focus on plant sources and other lean options like the ones you see below. This totals about 80 grams of protein — adequate for the average 160-pound woman.


'Nana-Nut Overnight Oats

  • 1 cup soy or cow's milk (8 g)
  • ½ cup oats (5 g)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter (3.5 g)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (3 g) or ground flax (1 g)
  • 1 small banana, sliced on top (1 g)


Taco-Style Salad

  • ½ cup shredded chicken (19 g)
  • 1 Tbsp crumbled cotija cheese (1.5 g)
  • 2 cups lettuce (1 g)
  • ¼ cup pinto beans (4 g)
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream (.5 g)
  • 2 Tbsp guacamole (1 g)
  • 2 warm corn tortillas (3 g)


Shrimp Stir-Fry

  • 3 oz (about 6) large, cooked shrimp (17 g) in your favorite sauce
  • 2 cups mixed stir-fry veggies like peppers, onions, and broccoli (about 2 g)
  • 1 cup brown rice (4.5 g)
  • 1 glass of white wine and a 1-ounce square of dark chocolate (1 g)


  • 1 cup baby carrots (about 1 g) with ¼ cup hummus (5 g)
  • ¼ cup nut-and-fruit trail mix (about 5 g)

This story originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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