Recommended Protein Intakes

Recommended protein intakes can be stated in two ways: as a percentage of total calories, or as an absolute number (grams per day). The DRI committee recommends that protein provide 10 percent to 35 percent of total caloric intake.22 The recommended protein allowance for a healthy adult is 0.8 gram per kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of desirable body weight per day.

The recommendation for protein uses the desirable, not the actual, weight for a given height, because the desirable weight is proportional to the lean body mass of the average person. Lean body mass, not total weight, determines protein need. This is because fat tissue is composed largely of fat, which does not require much protein for maintenance.

The recommendations for protein intake are based on the assumption that the protein source will be a combination of plant and animal proteins, that it will be consumed with adequate calories from carbohydrate and fat, and that other nutrients in the diet will be adequate. These protein recommendations apply only to healthy individuals with no unusual metabolic need for protein.

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