Protein Counting

Protein Counting

Use this calculator to find your optimum daily amount of protein.

  • A bigger person needs more protein than a smaller person
  • Hard physical work breaks down muscle, more protein is needed
  • Growing babies and children need lots of quality protein

The calculation is based on

  1. How big you are – “lean body mass” (the amount of muscle that needs to be nourished; body-weight minus fat and bone)
  2. How much activity you’re doing to break down muscle – “activity factor”.

The result will be grams of pure protein.

This is the upper level; most people will be adequately nourished with around 75% of this.

Continue down the page to find how much pure protein is in various foods.

  1. Lean Body Mass (LBM)

Use a BIA Body Composition Monitor, it will give a fairly accurate “muscle mass” (see BIA info below).

Or you can use skinfold calipers, which is more accurate if you know how to use them.

Otherwise – decide your ideal trim body-weight in kilograms and subtract 20% for men, 25% for women. This will be a useful number to work with.

Write down your Lean Body Mass in kilograms.

  1. Activity Factor

On the chart, find the number that suits your average level of activity for the day.

Write this down also, then multiply it by your lean body mass as in the calculator below.



Lean Body Mass (kg)  _______   x  Activity factor  _______  =  Daily protein need (grams)  _________

You now have your daily protein requirement by weight in grams of pure protein.

How much pure protein is in food?

Every food with protein has different amounts of it. Meats are about 25% protein content, most vegetarian protein foods are about 10%.




For most of us this will be three meals; breakfast, lunch and dinner. For most of us, the average daily amount of (pure) protein is about 60 grams. Divide this between 3 meals.

So; breakfast could be 15 grams, lunch 20 grams and dinner 25 grams. Total = 60 grams.

To obtain 15 grams of protein; 3 eggs.

For 20 gram protein; 100 grams of fish or 80 grams of chicken.

For 25 gm protein; 100 gm red meat.

Standard bathroom scales show weight, they can’t show changes in body composition.

For example: anyone doing a “weight loss” program can starve themselves thin and be happy to watch weight reducing on the scale. But where is the weight coming off? Rapid weight loss is likely to scavenge muscle as easily as bodyfat.

It’s critical that muscle mass is preserved. So we have to monitor body composition – that is, muscle mass and fat percentage (and eat nourishing food, taking time to adjust the metabolism).

Bio Impedance Analysis (BIA) technology was used by NASA to monitor the body composition of astronauts during time in space, it’s now available to us in affordable bathroom scales. BIA scales are a great way to monitor body composition.

The scale has electrodes under each foot pad which pass a small electrical current through the trunk of the body and through each foot. The resistance is measured and used to calculate body fat, muscle mass and overall hydration.

Other measurements can be available on these scales; visceral fat, bone mass, athletic status, metabolic age. They’re interesting but of less certain accuracy.

BIA scales have about 5% error but they’re very handy if a few guidelines are followed
• for a consistent reading use the scale in the morning upon rising after a visit to the toilet
• readings taken at various times of the day, after drinking water and after exercise will vary quite a lot
• body fat cannot hold water so the ‘hydration’ reading will relate to the fat percentage. That is, a person with high body-fat will show poor hydration which will improve as the body-fat percentage is reduced
• scales which include hand held electrode grips are more accurate but the cost is probably not worth the investment.