Home / Daily Protein Requirements Explained

Macronutrient Ratios, Energy and protein requirements

Let’s first have a look at how our tool established your protein requirements.
Our calculator takes your fitness goals and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Using the Harris-Benedict formula, it calculates your BMR and then applies an activity factor to figure your Desirable Estimated Energy Requirement (DEER). The DEER considers the amount of energy an individual needs in order to maintain a healthy body size and support levels of physical activity that are consistent with good health.

From this base number, we used the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ratios (AMDR) provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Health to determine your recommended daily protein intake.

The macronutrient ranges stipulated in the Nutrient Reference Values for New Zealand and Australia are the following:

  • Protein: 15-25% of the DEER
  • Carbohydrate: 45-65% of the DEER
  • Fat: 20-35% of the DEER

So the values provided by our calculator simply gives you an idea of how much energy you should be aiming for each day for optimal health, and what 15-25% of that looks like once transposed into grams of protein.

How does that differ to Recommended Dietary Intakes?

In adults, Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDI) are set to achieve a balance between what we eat and what we lose on a daily basis through normal body function and physical activity. The RDI of protein for most adults is between 0.75-1.07 grams of protein, per kilogram of body weight per day. While we generally meet our minimum protein needs each day, intakes above this level may provide additional health benefits such as muscle growth or improved cognition. This is why the protein intake recommended by our calculator sits slightly higher than the RDI.

How do I know I eat enough protein?

Protein is found in a wide range of foods – from animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy as well as plant-based sources, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and even certain wholegrain cereal and bread. A balanced wholefood or a varied vegan diet offers plenty of possibilities to meet your target protein intake.

The latest NZ Adult Nutrition Survey from 2008/09 found revealed that Kiwi women and men were getting on average 71g and 102g respectively, which was around 16% of their overall energy intake.

So while we have a pretty good idea that we’re eating more than our minimum protein requirements, our intakes are on the lower end of the optimal range of the AMDR.

What factors impact my daily protein needs?

Everybody’s protein needs are different. Protein is the building blocks of muscles and depending on your personal goals your protein requirements will change. Protein plays a crucial role in muscle recovery and repair. Your level of activity and the intensity you exercise will dictate your need for higher protein intake. There is a direct link between your body composition goals and your protein requirements.

We already stated that the minimum recommended daily intake for protein to support good health is around 0.8/Kg of bodyweight.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends 1.5g to 2g of daily protein per kilogram of body mass each day for those who are regularly active.
Those who are active and looking to build lean muscle can require closer to 2g of protein per KG of body mass, while for those who are active but looking to lose or maintain body fat 1.4g to 1.6g of protein per Kg of body mass may be sufficient.

The following group are also notoriously have increased protein requirements:

  • Growing teenagers: during their adolescent growth spurt protein needs are high to cover both energy requirements and support the growing body.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women - protein requirements are increased to support the changes in the mother and foetal growth, or to help lactation.
  • People with illnesses (such as cancer) and injuries - as protein aids the repair of body tissue, and keeps our immune systems healthy. When your body doesn’t get enough protein, it might break down muscle for the fuel it needs. This makes it take longer to recover from illness and can lower resistance to infection.

How does protein intake affect my physique goals?

Whether your goal is fat loss or muscle growth, protein is the big key player many people overlook. Protein works on both sides of the "calories in vs. calories out" equation helping to fill you up and burn more calories at the same time.

Protein taxes your body with the most energy to be broken down. It has the highest thermogenic effect of all macronutrients. High protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism and increase the number of calories burned by about 80 to 100 per day.
By replacing carbs and fat with protein, you reduce the hunger hormone and boost several satiety hormones, which leads to a major reduction in hunger. People getting 30% of their calories from protein automatically dropped their calorie intake by up 441 calories per day - most than 20% of the RDI for women (1)!
Generally, improved protein intakes are linked to better overall diet quality. It is not surprising to see that higher-protein diets lead to weight loss, even without intentionally restricting calories, portions, fat or carbs.

So while we have a pretty good idea that we’re eating more than our minimum protein requirements, our intakes are on the lower end of the optimal range of the AMDR.

1 serving of Go Good protein powder equals...

2 broccoli heads
2 broccoli heads
4 large eggs
4 large eggs
1 chicken breast
1 chicken breast
3/4 cup almond
3/4 cup almond

How to make the most of protein?

In Australasia, our protein consumption is typically skewed heavily towards the evening. Emerging research suggests that spreading the consumption of protein more evenly across your meals during the day may actually help stimulate muscle synthesis, therefore helping your body to use protein more effectively. This is backed by studies showing that consuming a protein nutrient at the start of the day helps to kickstart your metabolism, improve cognitive function and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

We already stated that the minimum recommended daily intake for protein to support good health is around 0.8/Kg of bodyweight.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends 1.5g to 2g of daily protein per kilogram of body mass each day for those who are regularly active.
Those who are active and looking to build lean muscle can require closer to 2g of protein per KG of body mass, while for those who are active but looking to lose or maintain body fat 1.4g to 1.6g of protein per Kg of body mass may be sufficient.

The following group are also notoriously have increased protein requirements:

  • Growing teenagers: during their adolescent growth spurt protein needs are high to cover both energy requirements and support the growing body.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women - protein requirements are increased to support the changes in the mother and foetal growth, or to help lactation.
  • People with illnesses (such as cancer) and injuries - as protein aids the repair of body tissue, and keeps our immune systems healthy. When your body doesn’t get enough protein, it might break down muscle for the fuel it needs. This makes it take longer to recover from illness and can lower resistance to infection.

Protein supplementation

Consuming what are considered typical protein sources like meats, fish, grains and eggs may not always be convenient and can be expensive. Getting sufficient protein from a vegan diet is possible but can also be difficult. Enters protein powder. Protein powder is a concentrated, powdered form of the protein nutrient. Protein powders can be consumed by themselves as shakes, or easily blend with other ingredients to create complete meal replacement. Protein powders have a long stable shelf life and a very economical cost per serve when compared to most traditional protein sources.

A single serving of quality Go Good protein powder ($1.78 NZD) will deliver as much protein as 3 glasses of whole milk, or 1 small chicken breast, or 4 eggs, or ¾ cup of almonds.