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How much protein should I eat?

Nutrition expert Dr. Allan Spreen answers common questions about diet and fitness:

Q: How many grams of protein should a person consume daily? If you have lost muscle over a long period of time because of yo-yo dieting, should you consume more for a short period until you have regained your muscle tone?

A: There are different dietary philosophies, each of which uses different amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the daily intake. "Atkins-type" plans use lots of protein, where over 50 percent of the diet can be protein (in the early stages of the plans). In "Zone-type" plans the recommendations are for 40 percent of daily intake to be protein, with 30 percent fat and 30 percent carbohydrates. In "Low-fat-type" regimens up to 70 percent of the diet can be carbohydrates with as little as 10 percent fat, which doesn't leave much room for lots of protein.

A long-time, rough rule of thumb for daily protein intake has been 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight (a kilogram, or Kg., is equal to 2.2 pounds). This would be about 50 grams daily for a 110-pound person, and about 70 grams for a 154-pounder.

Whether or not you need more protein due to "yo-yo" dieting is controversial, but if you are now working out to tone and develop more muscle tissue, then higher intake might be warranted. Ask your doctor.