Protein "requirements" beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 May;41(5):565-72. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0550. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Substantial evidence supports the increased consumption of high-quality protein to achieve optimal health outcomes. A growing body of research indicates that protein intakes well above the current Recommended Dietary Allowance help to promote healthy aging, appetite regulation, weight management, and goals aligned with athletic performance. Higher protein intakes may help prevent age-related sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, and strength that predisposes older adults to frailty, disability, and loss of autonomy. Higher protein diets also improve satiety and lead to greater reductions in body weight and fat mass compared with standard protein diets, and may therefore serve as a successful strategy to help prevent and/or treat obesity. Athletes can also benefit from higher protein intakes to maximize athletic performance given the critical role protein plays in stimulating muscle protein remodelling after exercise. Protein quality, per meal dose, and timing of ingestion are also important considerations. Despite persistent beliefs to the contrary, we can find no evidence-based link between higher protein diets and renal disease or adverse bone health. This brief synopsis highlights recent learnings based on presentations at the 2015 Canadian Nutrition Society conference, Advances in Protein Nutrition across the Lifespan. Current evidence indicates intakes in the range of at least 1.2 to 1.6 g/(kg·day) of high-quality protein is a more ideal target for achieving optimal health outcomes in adults.

Keywords: athletes; athlètes; contrôle du poids; elderly; exercice physique; exercise; muscle; obesity; obésité; personnes âgées; protein; protein quality; protein recommendations; protéines; protéines de qualité; rations protéiques recommandées; sarcopenia; sarcopénie; satiety; satiété; weight management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance
  • Body Weight
  • Body Weight Maintenance
  • Canada
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis*
  • Dietary Proteins / standards
  • Exercise
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Meals
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Muscle Weakness / prevention & control
  • Nutritive Value
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances*
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control
  • Societies, Scientific
  • Sports Nutritional Physiological Phenomena


  • Dietary Proteins