This protein calculator is an excellent tool for anyone who is interested in living a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet. With its help, you’ll be able to calculate the optimal protein intake for your weight and activity level. In the further text, we will answer the question “What are proteins?”, and talk about the significance of different types of proteins for our body. After that, you will be able to give a few examples of proteins and maybe even tell your friends what is the function of proteins present in our blood. You will also learn the recommended daily protein intake according to DRI nutrition guidelines (dietary reference index). We won’t leave you with just the theory, though. A list of foods high in protein and a recipe for a banana protein shake already await you! Finally, we will cover the topic of children from developing countries suffering from chronic protein deficiency.
What are proteins? – protein definition
Proteins, just like carbohydrates and fats, are macronutrients – substances used by organisms to produce energy and sustain basic bodily functions. Being organisms, proteins are essential to our existence; Different types of proteins not only build our muscles, but also regulate our hormones and metabolism. Some of them are antibodies – without proteins, our immune system wouldn’t work at all.
There is also another group of proteins, albumins. These globular proteins are found in our blood, and travel through the blood vessels of our body. Albumins serve many roles. They transport various substances that need to get to every part of our body: cations (Na⁺, K⁺, Ca²⁺, Mg²⁺), fatty acids, bilirubin, hormones (including thyroxine) and some pharmaceuticals (if administered). It has some serious clinical implications. Clinicians should remember that the serum calcium and magnesium levels can be altered due to hypoalbuminemia – a state of low albumin level in blood serum. Acquired Ca²⁺ and Mg²⁺ levels have to be corrected using special equations.
Albumins are also responsible for keeping an adequate oncotic blood pressure. It is the force that keeps the blood inside the arteries and veins. When there is a low serum albumin level, the patient may suffer from edemas, where fluids escape the bloodstream, enter the tissues, and stay there. Clinicians use this knowledge to determine the source of ascites (an excess of fluid inside the peritoneal cavity).
If proteins are so important, where can you find them? Well, there are many different sources of protein. The most popular ones are animal foods, such as meat, fish, and dairy products. However, it is also possible to plan a vegetarian or even a vegan diet with a sufficient amount of protein. Beans and nuts are some examples of non-animal sources. We will give you a list of foods high in protein in further paragraphs.
When on a vegan or vegetarian diet, it’s best to consult a professional dietitian to make sure that you are consuming sufficient amounts of various macronutrients, including protein.
Now, if your friends ask you: “what is the function of proteins?”, you can already elaborate on many topics considering proper functioning of our body and mention a few examples of proteins. It is time to answer the question: “How much protein do I need?”.
How much protein do I need? – recommended protein intake
While many bodybuilders follow the “the more, the merrier” rule when planning their protein intake, the truth is that our bodies are not able to utilize a lot of protein at once. If you eat an enormous steak, only a fraction of it will be used by our cells. The rest will be converted into carbohydrates for energy. Now, how much protein per day should you eat?
There are many different approaches to estimating how much protein per day should be supplied to our bodies. Typically, we should keep the percentage of proteins in the total calorie intake at 10-15%. Our protein calculator uses exactly these values.
Other recommendations, such as the one issued by the Food and Nutrition Council of the National Research Council, gives the maximum allowed amount of proteins in grams per kilogram of body mass. An adult should consume about 0.8 g protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This value can be higher for infants, pregnant women, or athletes. The National Institutes of Health guidelines provide, in turn, a fixed amount of recommended daily protein supply depending on a person’s sex and age. We will talk more about this in the DRI – nutrition guidelines paragraph.
If you want to recalculate calories of protein into grams, you should use the following equation:
4 kcal = 1 g
This protein intake calculator uses this formula to estimate your recommended daily protein. Please note that the 10-15% requirement is valid for people without special diets (e.g., diabetic diet) – if you need a personalized eating plan, consult a dietitian.
DRI – nutrition guidelines
If you would like to deepen your knowledge on which nutrients you should eat and in what quantity, we encourage you to visit the webpage of the National Institutes of Health. You will find there DRI – nutrition guidelines. The DRI comes from dietary reference index. These indexes consist of many different tables presenting data on the recommended supply of any particular nutrient for each sex and age group.