Protein is an important source of fuel and building blocks for your body but how much protein should you eat when you’re trying to lose weight?
Short answer: it depends on your body size.
The old Australian guidelines on protein requirements stated that women should get around 46 g per kilo of bodyweight per day while men should get 64 g per kilo of bodyweight. Newer research suggests that this is too low - especially for people attempting to lose weight.
Want to learn more? Read our comprehensive guide about protein and weight loss.
Our clever bodies use protein for a long list of tasks, including:
- Forming a major component of our cells
- Creating a basic constituent of our hair, skin and nails
- Building and repairing muscle tissue
- Contributing to the construction of our bones, cartilage, blood, and more
If you're on a weight loss diet, protein can play another key role: it keeps you full, with fewer calories.
So, how much do I need?
For people who are attempting to lose weight we recommend eating between 1.2 and 1.6 g of protein per kilogram of weight.
More importantly, we recommend spreading the protein you eat relatively evenly between your meals. This is what we call the Protein Balance philosophy. For most, that means eating more protein at breakfast and lunch and less at dinner, with at least 25 g at each meal.
To get a personalised estimate of your protein requirements while losing weight, you can use our Protein and BMI calculator here (it only takes a few seconds).
Quality as important as quantity
Enough protein is important - but so is the quality of the protein and what you eat with it. If your main protein source is junk food, losing weight might be a challenge. Burgers and fried chicken contain lots of protein but lots of other, not so good stuff too!
For maximum effect from the protein you eat, always choose whole food sources of protein, such as:
- lean beef and chicken
- white fish and tuna
- dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese
- tofu, nuts and legumes