How much protein do you need? New research suggests that many of us may need more protein than we realize. The current RDA is 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, but several studies have found that 1 to 1.2 grams may be more protective against age-related muscle loss.
Use this formula from Caroline Apovian, MD, to determine the minimum amount of protein you should eat daily to offset muscle loss—and protect your metabolism—while you lose weight.
STEP 1: Estimate your ideal weight. "If you're a woman, start with 100 pounds for the first 5 feet in height, and add 5 pounds for every extra inch," says Dr. Apovian. "For men, it's 106 pounds for 5 feet in height, plus 6 pounds for every additional inch. However, if your ideal weight is less than 120 pounds, don't eat less than 82 grams of protein daily."
STEP 2: Ideal Weight (in pounds) / 2.2 = Ideal Weight (in kilograms)
STEP 3: Ideal Weight (in kilograms) x 1.5 = Daily Protein Goal (in grams)
Now that you know how much you need, check out these metabolism-boosting, protein-packed foods! (For ultimate results, make sure to pair your diet with The Workout That Revs Your Metabolism.)
More: 5 Tips to Get a Fast Metabolism
Protein content: 2 grams per half avocado
The protein in this fruit contains all nine essential amino acids, plus heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Cheese and Milk
Protein content: 6 to 7 grams per ounce; 9 to 10 grams per 1 cup
Go for low-fat options—they generally contain more protein than fattier alternatives.
Protein content: 15 grams per 1/2 cup
Its nougat-like texture makes tempeh a smart stand-in for meat. Saute, or crumble cooked tempeh over salads.
More: Eat Tempeh to Boost Your Immune System
Protein content: 4 grams per 1 cup (chopped)
This tasty veggie is a nutrient powerhouse. Enjoy it steamed or grilled, or toss chopped spears into salads.
Protein content: 7 to 9 grams per 1/2 cup (cooked)
Pair dried beans (think black beans, chickpeas and lentils) with rice or quinoa for a complete-protein meal.
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Protein content: 18 grams per 6 ounces
This thick and creamy treat packs nearly twice as much protein as other dairy sources; it's great with fruit.
Protein content: 4 to 6 grams per 2 tablespoons
A small handful of walnuts or almonds is great as a snack, mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, or on a salad.