The Power of Protein

John Malinowski, ATC, CET

Why is protein important?

Protein is necessary for body maintenance, growth and repair. Protein is present in almost all body cells and has many functions including:

  • Formation and maintenance of muscles, connective tissues, red blood cells, enzymes, and hormones
  • Transporting many body compounds as well as medications
  • Maintaining the balance of body fluids
  • Fighting infections and strengthening immunity

How much protein do I need?

Each individual’s calorie and protein requirements will vary. A rough estimate of your calorie needs is 25-35 calories per kilogram of bodyweight (or 55-77 calories per pound of bodyweight). An estimate of your protein needs is 0.8-1.0 grams per kilogram of body weight (or 1.8 to 2.2 grams per pound of bodyweight). If undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, protein needs generally increase, and estimated needs are typically 1.0 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (or 2.2 to 3.3 grams per pound of bodyweight). It is important to discuss your individual caloric intake and protein needs with your physician and registered dietitian. Depending on the type of cancer and other medical conditions, metabolic processes can change how the body uses proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.