Whenever I eat a high-protein meal, I feel like I'm channeling my inner Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and I'll soon be able to take on the entire world while being a doting father to my tiny infant daughters. Seriously though, as someone who doesn't eat meat, I have to be a little more vigilant when watching for signs that mean I need more protein than, say, your average bacon-lover. Although it's totally possible to eat a well-rounded plant-based diet, whether you're on team tofu or team cheeseburger, it's important to understand just how much of the macronutrient you should be eating each day.
Since everyone's bodies are shaped a little differently, there's not really a magic number for the amount of protein you "should" be eating every day. Instead, according to Lyuda Bouzinova, an ACE-certified fitness nutrition specialist, personal trainer, and co-founder of Mission Lean, you can calculate a healthy target to fit your specific needs by using a simple formula. "The official recommendation is that you need .36 grams of protein for every pound of bodyweight," she tells Elite Daily over email.
So what exactly is protein anyway, and why is it so important to eat enough of it? "Protein is an important macronutrient that absolutely needs to be part of a balanced diet," Bouzinova says. But not just any old source of protein will be great for your health, she adds. Be wary of high-protein and low-nutrition foods like protein bars, the expert warns. "You should focus on attaining it from natural, single-ingredient food sources like fish or oats. You do not need to overdo it on any macronutrient, including protein."
But if overdoing it on the protein is the opposite of what you're dealing with, here are some signs to watch out for that mean you need a little more of the nutrient in your diet.