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Does Everyone Need Protein?

Though we often think of bodybuilders and fitness models when protein powder comes to mind, they’re definitely not the only people that need protein! Athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking to support their goals  may turn to protein as a macronutrient to adjust in their diet. , the conversation around protein has changed a lot over time, and protein consumption is very much a nutritional priority for most healthy people, in addition to almost all types of athletes. Let’s explore: 


Sports are dynamic and demanding physical activities that can require a mix of endurance, strength, and intensity. Athletes who play sports like basketball, soccer, tennis, wrestling, martial arts, boxing, baseball, football, hockey and more may all pay close attention to their protein intakes throughout the day.  Physical activity overtime and overall exertion can cause muscle protein breakdown, which is why it is recommended to meet individualized protein needs to help support muscle recovery.


It’s a common misconception that endurance athletes only need carbohydrates, and that protein can cause them to bulk up and slow down. However, endurance athletes, such as long-distance runners, swimmers, cyclists, bikers, and rowers, also require protein in their diet to help support muscle recovery. Muscle is used in all aspects of endurance, from walking on a treadmill to running up a mountain. The level of muscular endurance, however, may differ based on activity, duration, distance, and type of terrain.


Strength athletes, like bodybuilders, powerlifters, and weightlifters, require protein in their diet to support muscle building over time and muscle recovery. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle tissue, and strength athletes need to consume enough of it to support the increased demand during their training. Strength training and muscle building takes time, and the amount of time depends on the individual’s training regimen, nutrition, rest, health, and recovery schedule.

Healthy Adults

Protein is an essential macronutrient required for all healthy adults, active or not. Protein helps to form tissues, organs, muscles, and other important structural tissues in the body. After a protein is ingested, it has the potential to perform thousands of different functions within the body from structure to function and regulation processes.

Protein Needs

While protein is necessary for all healthy adults, the amount and type of protein required may vary depending on factors such as age, sex, weight, activity level, and overall health status. It’s imperative that all healthy adults consume adequate amounts of protein whether they are active or not. However, the amount of protein needed for the average adult varies depending on their lifestyle. Click here to calculate your personal protein needs.

Quick Tips:

  1. Aim to make protein about 10 to 35% of your total daily diet / caloric intake
  2. Try for 20 - 40 grams per meal or snack and find opportunities throughout the day to add a variety of proteins; try both plant-based and animal proteins
  3. Look toward a food-first approach from chicken, turkey, seafood, eggs, dairy, soy products and other plant-based protein sources such as legumes, nuts, and seeds

Take Aways

Protein is required by all healthy adults - on a daily basis, active or not - through every stage of life. Athletes and people who engage in regular physical activity may also need more protein to help support recovery  after exercise. Not only do bodybuilder and physique athletes require protein, but also team sport athletes and endurance athletes such as long-distance runners. Ultimately, if your protein needs aren’t being met, then your body’s overall requirements aren’t being satisfied. If you are unsure about your protein intake, consult a registered dietitian or healthcare professional for personalized advice.