About Protein: Understanding the Purpose of Calculating Protein Needs
Written by: Jasmine Blake; September 21st, 2019
Protein can be consumed via animal sources or plant sources. Digestion of proteins begins in the stomach where proteins are broken down into amino acids. Amino acids are the smallest forms of proteins, and pepsin and hydrochloric acid help break it into these small forms so these amino acids can be digested into the system. After the stomach breaks down these proteins the pancreas sends out other chemicals (trypsin, chymotrypsin, and carboxypeptidase) to help finish the process. After the proteins are broken completely the body can absorb them and utilize their potential.
Everyone has a different amount of protein that should be consumed. This information is based on bio-individuality. People who are young differ from people who are old or sick. For example adolescents need a slightly higher amount of protein than adults because they are still growing. Children between the ages of 9 years old and 13 years old actually need even more becuase their bodies are still developing. Another important fact about protein is if a person is sick, injured, or experiencing an acute disease state. These types of people will also need higher amounts of protein to promote healing and repair.
What is also misleading is weight versus the amount of protein intake. It is often said the bigger you are the more protein you should be consuming. This is partly true. In fact a person should be consuming the amount of protein of their Ideal Body Weight unless they are 30% or more over weight. Then at that point a person should be consuming the amount of protein that is calculated to their Adjusted Body Weight. How does a person know if they are 30% or more over weight? The BMR/RMR Calories Calulator can help you decipher that info. Nonetheless, this is the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein. Again, protein varies among each individual depending on age, physical activity, and disease state. Athletes for example can need anywhere between 1.2 g/kg of protein up to 2.0 g/kg of protein per day. They could even need to adjust daily depending on their activity days versus their non activity days.
Bone health is also affected by the amount of protein one takes in, and so is brain development. When feeding infants, the right amount of protein is needed for breast milk to ensure the infant is getting all its nutrient needs. Sufficient protein is also need for people who are sick. For example no dialysis patients with renal disease need less protein ranging from 0.5 g/kg to 0.8 g/kg. People on dialysis will need more for prevent malnutrition while particles in fluids are being separated. As well people with cancer need more protein than usual. Although studies say there need to be less, the types of proteins that need to be increased are plant proteins instead of animal proteins. Other diseases also require varying amounts of protein such as autoimmune disease, hepatic complications, neurological diseases, and even HIV.
Knowing how to calculate protein is essential to ensure a person stays healthy. The calculator above gives a general assessment of basic protein needs. To get an in-depth assessment based on bio-individual needs and personal lifestyle, a personalized nutrition assessment would be the way to go.
References, Calculations, & Chart References:
Mahan, L. K. & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krause’s food and the nutrition care process (14th Ed.). St. Louis MO: Elsevier
Ross, C. A., Caballero, B., Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K. L., & Ziegler, T. R., (2014). Modern nutrition in health and disease (11th Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.