Protein requirements can vary depending on a person’s age, activity levels, body weight, and other factors. Most people should aim for a maximum of 2 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per day.
Consuming too much protein could lead to a range of problems involving the digestive system, blood vessels, and kidneys.
The recommended dietary allowance or RDA for protein depends on factors, such as:
- pregnancy and breastfeeding
- activity levels
Read on to learn more about how much protein a person should consume. This article looks at the recommended protein intake, the side effects of too much protein, and more.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
The recommended daily allowance of protein for adults with minimal physical activity is around 0.8 g per kilogram (kg) of body weight, though this may vary.
|Life stage and sex||Recommended amount of protein per day|
|Infants and children|
|6–12 months||11 g|
|1–3 years||13 g|
|4–8 years||19 g|
|9–13 years||34 g|
|14–18 years||52 g|
|19 years and older||56 g|
|14 years and older||46 g|
|Pregnant or breastfeeding|
|All ages||71 g|
Being physically active can increase the RDA of protein that people should eat. A 2016 study recommends eating:
- 0.8–1.0 g of protein per kg of body weight with minimal activity levels
- 1.3 g of protein per kg of body weight with moderate activity levels
- 1.6 g of protein per kg of body weight with intense activity levels
Anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding will typically need to eat a lot more protein.
Some studies have also found that people may need to increase their protein intake as they age. A different 2016 study concluded that older adults should eat more protein than is currently recommended to promote healthy aging.
The researchers recommended that adults should ideally consume protein in the range of 1.2–1.6 g per kg of body weight daily, to prevent age-related muscle loss or sarcopenia.
The study also concluded that these amounts would also improve appetite control, satiety, and weight management.
A dietitian can advise on how much protein a person should aim for based on their individual circumstances
Learn more about how much protein a person needs.
People can typically consume 2 g of protein per kg of their body weight daily, long-term, without any significant side effects.
Some people, such as elite athletes, may be able to eat as much as 3.5 g per kg of body weight daily without any side effects.
However, most research indicates that eating more than 2 g per kg of body weight daily of protein for a long time can cause health problems.
Symptoms associated with too much protein include:
There are serious risks associated with chronic protein overconsumption, including:
- cardiovascular disease
- blood vessel disorders
- liver and kidney injuries
Doctors have also linked certain conditions to chronic protein overconsumption:
It is best for a person to contact their doctor if they have concerns about the possible side effects of consuming too much protein.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2050 recommends adults get between
Most people can safely eat up to 2 g per kg of body weight daily. However, athletes may be able to consume up to 3.5 g per kg of body weight daily.
Consuming more protein than the body needs can cause side effects and may increase the risk of certain conditions. A doctor can help a person determine how much protein they should aim for.
It is possible that higher protein diets may assist with weight loss and weight management.
It is likely that high-protein diets can promote weight loss because high protein foods tend to promote a feeling of fullness, helping reduce hunger cravings and overeating.
More research is necessary to understand the full relationship between high protein diets and weight loss.
A large variety of plant and animal-based foods are high in protein, including:
- soy products
If a person has concerns that they are consuming too much protein, a dietitian can help them monitor their protein intake and create a suitable eating plan where necessary.
Learn more about high protein foods.
Some people cannot eat as much protein as others because of conditions that interfere with digestion.
Risk factors associated with developing side effects from protein overconsumption include the following:
Here are some frequently asked questions about protein.
How much protein is too much in a day?
The amount of protein a person should aim for each day can vary. The
Is 200 g of protein a day too much?
Regularly consuming 200 g of protein per day is generally too much. If a person consumes 200 g of protein in one day, it is best to adjust their protein intake for the rest of the week accordingly.
What are the signs of too much protein?
Too much protein can cause fatigue, dehydration, nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and digestive discomfort. It is best for a person to contact a doctor for advice if they believe they are consuming too much protein.
In general, a person can consume 0.8–2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. Athletes, people with physically demanding jobs, and pregnant or breastfeeding people may require more.
Consuming more protein than the body needs can cause symptoms such as intestinal discomfort, dehydration, nausea, fatigue, headaches, and more. Chronic protein overconsumption can also increase the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, blood vessel disorders, liver and kidney issues, and seizures.
A person can contact their doctor for advice if they have concerns about their protein intake. The doctor may refer them to a dietitian, who can help them make any necessary changes to their diet.