To maximize lean body mass and help maintain healthy body weights, men should eat adequate amounts of protein on a daily basis. Protein is also important for healthy hair and skin, wound healing and maximizing immune function. However, although protein is a key nutrient for men, too much protein can cause problems.
Minimum Protein Needs
Protein recommended dietary allowances, or RDAs, should be treated as minimum protein requirements for men because protein RDAs may be underestimated, according to a review published in 2010 in “Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care.” The current protein RDA for adult men is 56 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Recommendations for Active Men
Men who exercise regularly often require more protein than inactive men, because protein is necessary for muscle repair and growth after workouts. The position stand of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition is that active men should aim for 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, equivalent to 0.64 to 0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. This equates to 115 to 164 grams of protein daily for a 180-pound active man. Protein needs for active women are also based on body weight.
Maximum Safe Amounts
Excessive protein intakes, especially at the expense of eating fewer carbs, can lead to weight loss but also unpleasant — even dangerous — side effects. These may include nausea, diarrhea and even the possibility of death, according to a review published in 2006 in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.” Authors of this review suggest eating no more than 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, which equates to 1.14 grams per pound of body weight — or 205 grams of protein daily for a 180-pound adult man.
Sources of Dietary Protein
Men can get all the protein they need daily from eating a well-balanced diet. However, the position statement of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition is that using protein supplements is a practical way to boost protein for athletes. Always check with your doctor before taking dietary supplements. Healthy protein-rich foods include egg whites, lean meats, seafood, poultry, low-fat dairy foods, legumes, soy products, seeds and nuts.