Weight Loss Exactly how much protein you should eat if you’re trying to lose weight

So that’s the easy part. But exactly how much protein do you need to chow on to take full advantage of its perks?

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Exactly how much protein you should eat if you’re trying to lose weight play

Exactly how much protein you should eat if you’re trying to lose weight

(Women's Health)
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Ask any food pro and they'll tell you that protein really is top dog when it comes to shedding weight without feeling famished. It keeps you full and energized, and helps you hang on to hard-earned muscle while ditching pounds of fat. It’s even got a hidden perk: “Protein takes more energy to digest than fat or carbs, so you get a little bit of a metabolic edge from eating protein-packed foods in place of other foods,” says dietitian Karen Ansel, R.D.

So that’s the easy part. But exactly how much protein do you need to chow on to take full advantage of its perks?

The USDA will tell you that the average woman should get at least 46 grams a day. But that’s a minimum (as in, enough to keep you going if you’re a couch potato). Most women need closer to 70 grams a day, says Ansel.

To figure out an exact target based on your weight, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms, then multiply that number by .8 for the minimum amount you should be eating, says Ansel. If you exercise intensely four or more days a week, multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.2 (if you sweat four times a week) to 1.6 (if you hit the gym more than four times) to find out how many grams you need to supplement your sweat sessions.

And, if you're trying to lose fat, multiply your weight in kilograms by 2 to 2.2 (if you work out more than four times a week) for your exact protein dosage. 

What’s more important than hitting a target amount of protein, though, is making sure you space out your consumption. Most of us skimp on protein for a majority of the day until dinner, and our bodies don't have time to utilize it, says Ansel. “Unlike other nutrients, such as fat or carbohydrates, our bodies can’t store protein, so we have to use it or lose it,” she says.

A good rule of thumb is to spread your protein out so you get about 20 grams during each meal and five to 10 grams from snacks, which will tally up to that grand total of 70 grams by bedtime. To help visualize how much food that is, consider this: a palm-sized amount of lean meat or fish packs around 30 grams of protein, a cup of Greek yogurt has about 20 grams, and an egg or ounce of cheese has around six grams.

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