People should eat DOUBLE the amount of protein suggested by the NHS, says dietitian

People should eat DOUBLE the amount of protein suggested by the NHS and current guidelines are outdated, say dieticians

  • There are calls for guidelines on how much protein to eat to be revised
  • Protein is a key nutrient used in the body to build more muscle, bone and skin
  • Expert says NHS suggested amount of protein should be doubled
  • Adults over 60 – who are prone to age-related muscle loss – may need even more

People should eat twice as much muscle-boosting protein as the NHS recommends, a top dietitian has claimed.

Other experts have also declared the current guidelines outdated and are calling for them to be revised to increase protein levels.

Protein is a key nutrient that is crucial for building muscle, bone and skin. Currently, the NHS and other international health bodies recommend eating around 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day.

This equates to approximately 56g per day for an average male and 45g for a female, or the equivalent of an average sized chicken breast.

Experts suggest that the amount of protein people recommend should be increased. Pictured are fish, red meat and chicken, all high in protein

But according to Professor Stuart Phillips, a muscle growth expert from McMaster University in Canada, this is far from enough.

“For more than 20 years I have been saying that the recommended dietary allowance for protein is insufficient,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The Food Program.

Professor Phillips recommends eating at least 1.2g of protein per kg of body weight per day. That’s about 100g for younger men or 84g for younger women, or the equivalent of a serving of eggs for breakfast, a serving of tuna for lunch, and a chicken breast at dinner.

Adults over 60 – who are prone to age-related muscle loss – may need even more and could benefit from a protein supplement that Professor Phillips is developing.

Dr Linia Patel of the British Dietetic Association does not advocate such high daily doses as Professor Phillips suggests, but she agrees that the guidelines need to be revised.

“NHS recommendations are based on studies done a long time ago, and now we have much more accurate ways of measuring and determining protein intake.”

Older nitrogen balance studies measured the amount of nitrogen in the sweat and urine of volunteers.

Nitrogen is released by the body when muscle tissue grows.

By monitoring the levels of nitrogen released by the body as muscle tissue grows, scientists have determined the amount of protein needed to help stimulate growth.

Dr Patel says modern techniques – in which food eaten with radioactive dye helps track the conversion of protein into muscle – paint a more accurate picture.

“It shows us that it takes more protein than originally thought to stimulate muscle growth,” she says, adding that her patients “time and time again” fail to get enough protein in their diets.

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