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Eating 170 grams of protein a day might seem impossible. Fortunately, there are multiple tactics you can implement to boost your intake and achieve your goals. As a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I’m here to share my best tips with you!
- The easiest ways to boost your daily protein intake to 170 grams are to start the day with a high-protein breakfast, eat protein-rich snacks, supplement with either whey or plant-based protein, and prioritize lean (over fatty) meat. Below, I give you a full meal plan.
- Aim to divide your protein intake across each meal. For example, 40 grams at breakfast, 50 grams at lunch, 20 grams from a snack, and 60 grams at dinner.
- Using a nutrition tracking app is the simplest way to ensure you’re on target and consistent. You might not need to use an app indefinitely, but learning how much protein is in specific food portions is helpful when starting.
Who Should Be Eating 170 Grams of Protein a Day
According to the current scientific consensus, the ideal protein intake for active individuals falls between 1.6 and 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight, translating to roughly 0.8 to 1 gram per pound.
Therefore, someone weighing 170 to 212.5 lbs would need 170 grams of protein daily.
“..a daily protein intake of ~1.6 g/kg/day or as high as 2.2 g/kg/day, appears to be the most influential factor to consider when optimizing muscle mass growth…” –Journal of Nutrients.
Active individuals aiming to maintain or gain weight should aim for the lower end of this range (0.8 g/lb), whereas those who are dieting should aim for 1 g/lb or higher (1.2 g/lb).
Those who are dieting have higher protein requirements because they are at a greater risk of losing muscle mass; additionally, the higher protein intake can help them manage hunger by keeping them satiated for longer.
These recommendations are for active individuals with an average body fat percentage (10-18% for men and 20-31% for women).
Those with a higher body fat percentage and those who are sedentary will have different protein requirements.
You are sedentary if you get less than 20 to 30 minutes of purposeful activity per day and spend most of your day sitting down or in a stationary position.
Sedentary people can get away with eating as little as 0.8 grams per kilogram (around 0.4 grams per pound).
Based on this recommendation, you would only need 170 grams of protein per day if you weighed 425 lbs as a sedentary individual.
High Body Fat Percentage
Protein requirements are based on lean body mass (total body weight minus body fat).
For those with an average body fat percentage, it’s easier to use their total body weight to calculate their protein requirements using the 0.8-1 g/lb recommendation.
However, using lean body mass in this equation will be more accurate for those with a higher body fat percentage.
If you know your body fat percentage, then you can calculate your lean mass with the following equation:
- Total Weight (lbs) X Body Fat Percentage (%) = Fat Mass (lbs)
- Total Weight (lbs) – Fat Mass (lbs) = Lean Mass (lbs)
If you don’t know your body fat percentage, then you can estimate it using this calculator and plug the corresponding percentage into the above equation.
For example, if you weigh 243 lbs and have 30% body fat, you have 170 lbs of lean mass, so you should eat 170 grams of protein (if you’re active).
7 Tips For Reaching 170 Grams Of Protein A Day
Now that you know you should be eating 170 grams of protein per day, here are my top tips for making it happen:
1. Eat Protein At Every Meal (and snack)
Looking at the daily goal of eating 170 grams of protein can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to fit it all in at the end of the day.
Fortunately, the task is far easier when you break it down into bite-sized objectives throughout the day.
Make it a point to eat enough protein at every meal and snack. The amount of protein you need for each meal will depend on how often you eat.
If you eat four meals per day, it could look like this:
- Breakfast – 40 grams
- Lunch – 50 grams
- Afternoon snack – 20 grams
- Dinner – 60 grams
Alternatively, if you eat six times per day:
- Breakfast – 30 grams
- Snack – 20 grams
- Lunch – 40 grams
- Snack – 20 grams
- Dinner – 40 grams
- Snack – 20 grams
It feels far more manageable by breaking it down and working toward the 170-gram mark with each meal/snack.
2. Prioritize Lean Over Fatty Meat
Meat is one of the highest protein foods you can eat, but the type of meat you eat matters if you have a protein intake of 170 grams or more.
Meats containing more fat (such as pork chops) have a smaller percentage of protein per serving. In contrast, leaner meats, such as chicken breast, provide mostly protein with little to no fat.
For this reason, eating leaner meats makes it easier to get more protein and control your calorie and fat intake.
Here are some high-protein lean meats to consider:
- Chicken breast
- Lean beef cuts (strip steak, tri-tip roast, and flank steak)
- Pork tenderloin
3. Stock Up On Convenience Protein Items
Having high-protein foods that are quick to prepare or require no prep makes it easier to get enough protein throughout the day, even if you’re not motivated or too busy to cook.
Some convenient options to stock up on are:
- Canned tuna
- Canned salmon
- Canned chicken
- Pre-packaged boiled eggs
- Beef jerky
- Cottage cheese
- Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Fat-free deli ham
4. Consider Protein Supplements
Protein supplements can be an excellent addition to an already healthy diet for people who struggle to eat enough whole-food protein and those who don’t have enough time to prepare all their meals.
Mixing a scoop of protein powder with water can provide 20 to 30 grams of protein; if you combine it with milk, you can get 30 to 40 grams of protein.
Whey protein is an excellent option because it provides high-quality protein, dissolves well in liquids, and tastes great.
The Transparent Labs Whey Powder is our top pick because of its high-quality ingredients and percentage of protein per serving (click to read our review).
5. Start Your Day Strong
It’s often said that what we do in the morning dictates how the rest of our day goes.
So, if the goal is to get 170 grams of protein, get the ball rolling as soon as you get out of bed by eating a high-protein breakfast.
Some excellent high-protein breakfast options include:
- Scrambled eggs (with egg whites)
- Oatmeal with some whey protein
- Protein pancakes
- Greek yogurt bowl
- Turkey, spinach, and potato skillet
Getting a head start on your protein goal will save you from struggling to cram it all in at the end of the day.
- Related: 20 Best Bodybuilding Breakfast Ideas
6. Track Your Intake With an App
Tracking your protein intake is perhaps the simplest and most accurate way to ensure you’re on target.
Tracking your protein intake day in and day out ensures that you stay on target more often than not.
Most of the time, people think they’re more adherent than they are, so it can be helpful to track your intake to see if you really are eating 170 grams consistently.
Tracking also helps you learn which foods are high in protein and which aren’t, providing you with knowledge you can apply later to plan your meals and snacks more efficiently to help you hit your protein goals.
Whether you’re new to macro tracking or a pro, our favorite app on the market is MacroFactor. It allows you to log your food in many different ways, has the fastest food logger on the market, and even serves as a built-in diet coach.
(Enter code FEASTGOOD to get an extra week on your free trial for two weeks total.)
7. Eat Protein-Rich Snacks
For many of my clients, eating protein at main meals is easy, but finding snacks that are high in protein can be a struggle.
Without enough protein at snacks, it can be challenging to get 170 grams of protein a day, so here are a few options to get you started:
- Turkey roll-ups: a few slices of turkey breast or ham with spinach and cheese
- Hard-boiled egg + veggies + dip: for the dip, use plain Greek yogurt mixed with ranch seasoning pack
- Cottage cheese taco dip: blend cottage cheese, top it with taco-seasoned beef and cheddar cheese, and serve with bell peppers or corn chips
- Greek yogurt bowl: yogurt (+ protein powder for an extra boost) topped with nuts or seeds and berries
- Crackers + tuna or chicken salad: mix it with guacamole instead of mayo for more nutrients
Sample Meal Plan: 170g Grams of Protein
To show you how much you need to eat to get to 170 grams of protein a day, I’ve created three meal plans (each with different dietary requirements) for you to reference.
Meal Plan #1: Includes Dairy, Eggs, and Meat
Breakfast (50 grams of protein)
- Greek yogurt (1 container): 17g
- Scrambled eggs (3 large): 18g
- Turkey sausage (3 links): 15g
Lunch (47 grams of protein)
- Grilled chicken breast salad (5 ounces of chicken): 32g
- Cottage cheese with cucumbers (½ cup): 15g
Afternoon Snack (24 grams of protein)
- Tuna salad lettuce wraps (3 ounces of tuna): 24g
Dinner (50 grams of protein)
- Sirloin steak (6 ounces): 48g
- Large salad (mixed greens): 1g
- Large apple: 1g
This sample menu has 171 grams of protein.
Meal Plan #2: Vegan Meal Plan (no animal products)
Breakfast (52 grams of protein)
- Vegan protein smoothie (with 2 scoops of hemp protein, mixed berries, and a cup of almond milk): 32g
- Peanut butter on whole-grain toast (3 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 slices): 20g
Lunch (42 grams of protein)
- Lentil soup (2.5 cups): 22g
- Quinoa salad with black beans and avocado (1.5 cups cooked quinoa, ½ cup black beans): 20g
Afternoon Snack (39 grams of protein)
- Roasted chickpeas (1 cup): 14g
- Edamame (1.5 cups): 25g
Dinner (39 grams of protein)
- Tofu stir-fry with broccoli, bell peppers, and snow peas (8 ounces of tofu): 22g
- Brown rice (1.5 cups cooked): 8g
- Tempeh “bacon” strips (3 strips): 9g
This sample menu has 172 grams of protein.
Meal Plan #3: Vegetarian Meal Plan (eggs & dairy included)
Breakfast (29 grams of protein)
- Non-fat Greek yogurt (1.5 cups): 19g
- Whole grain toast with avocado (2 slices, 1/2 avocado): 10g
Lunch (54 grams of protein)
- Spinach and feta cheese omelet (5 large eggs, 1/4 cup feta): 36g
- Lentil soup (2 cups): 18g
Afternoon Snack (23 grams of protein)
- Edamame (1 cup): 17g
- Almonds (1 ounce): 6g
Dinner (67 grams of protein)
- Quinoa and Vegetable Stir-fry (1.5 cups cooked quinoa): 13g
- Chickpea and vegetable patties (4 medium-sized patties) 28g
- Cottage cheese with cucumbers (1 cup): 26g
This sample menu has 173 grams of protein.
How Much Protein Should Come From Supplements vs. Whole Foods If Eating 170g A Day?
I recommend getting no more than 30% of your protein from supplements.
Your goal of 170 grams of protein daily would mean consuming at most 51 grams of protein per day from supplements (protein powder, protein bars, and similar products).
Fifty-one grams of protein is the equivalent of approximately two scoops of protein powder, depending on the brand.
The remaining 70% (or more) of your daily protein intake should come from whole foods because whole foods have more nutrients to offer.
Consuming larger quantities of whole food proteins ensures you get all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally, especially if you’re eating various protein foods (rather than just one source).
If there is a day when you’re extremely busy, and the only way to hit your protein target is to consume more supplements, then feel free to do so; however, you should not make it a habit.
My Practical Recommendations to Stay on Track
Fit Fun Foods Into Your Day
Having the occasional less-than-healthy snack is not the end of the world.
However, indulging in guilty pleasures too often can make it more challenging to eat enough protein.
Planning these fun foods into your day and your high-protein foods can help you hit your protein targets more efficiently and allow you to enjoy your favorite foods.
These are small decisions most of us don’t think about, but they affect our nutrition. Learn how to upgrade your fun foods so that you’re still getting lots of protein.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Aiming for perfection could be why you can’t succeed; perfection is unrealistic, and when you strive for perfection and don’t achieve it, you’re more likely to give up because you think you’ve failed.
Just because the goal is to eat 170 grams of protein daily doesn’t mean you will always be able to do it. You might be above or below that target some days, which is okay. A better approach is to try to average it out.
If your weekly average is around 170 grams of protein per day at the end of the week, then you’re doing really well despite not being perfectly on target every single day.
Do your best to get close to your target on most days, and don’t worry about the occasional slip-up because it’s unlikely to affect your long-term results.
Vary Your Protein Sources
Protein-rich foods are everywhere, and you don’t have to limit yourself to a handful of options just because they are familiar and you know how to prepare them.
Part of what makes a nutritional plan sustainable is variety, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.
You can start by preparing your usual foods in new ways. After that, you can make a point to try new foods to keep your diet interesting.
For instance, if you’ve mostly eaten meat for protein in the last few months, try incorporating fish and seafood for 1-2 meals per week to switch things up.
Make A Meal Plan & Batch Cook
Having a meal plan also allows you to batch-cook food for multiple days in advance. That way, you can stick to your diet even if your schedule gets hectic and you don’t have the time to prepare meals.
Feel free to create your meal plan by mixing and matching meals from the three meal plans above.
Once you develop your plan, I recommend setting aside a couple of hours on Sunday to prepare the meals so there’s one less thing to worry about during the week.
Are 170 Grams of Protein a Day Safe to Eat?
Eating 170 grams of protein a day is safe for most people.
However, folks with health conditions (especially kidney-related issues) should consult their doctor before increasing their protein intake.
Can I Get My 170 Grams of Protein From a Single Source?
You can, but we don’t recommend it.
This approach is unsustainable because you will get tired of eating large amounts of the same food daily.
Plus, overeating from the same source could limit your intake of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Can I Eat 170 Grams of Protein In One Meal?
You can, but it may be less beneficial to consume it all at once rather than spread it throughout the day.
According to a paper by Schoenfeld and Aragon, a better approach for muscle retention and growth is to split your daily protein intake into 4-6 roughly equal doses.
How Many Calories Are 170 Grams of Protein?
Protein technically has an energetic value of 4 calories per gram.
So, 170 grams of the nutrient would equal roughly 680 calories.
Other High Protein Meal Plans
- How To Eat 150 Grams of Protein A Day
- How To Eat 160 Grams of Protein A Day
- How To Eat 180 Grams of Protein A Day
Stokes T, Hector AJ, Morton RW, McGlory C, Phillips SM. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients. 2018 Feb 7;10(2):180. doi: 10.3390/nu10020180. PMID: 29414855; PMCID: PMC5852756.
Jäger R, Kerksick CM, Campbell BI, Cribb PJ, Wells SD, Skwiat TM, Purpura M, Ziegenfuss TN, Ferrando AA, Arent SM, Smith-Ryan AE, Stout JR, Arciero PJ, Ormsbee MJ, Taylor LW, Wilborn CD, Kalman DS, Kreider RB, Willoughby DS, Hoffman JR, Krzykowski JL, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 20;14:20. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8. PMID: 28642676; PMCID: PMC5477153.
Paddon-Jones, D., Westman, E., Mattes, R. D., Wolfe, R. R., Astrup, A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein, weight management, and satiety. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(5), 1558S-1561S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1558S.
Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Feb 27;15:10. doi: 10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1. PMID: 29497353; PMCID: PMC5828430.
About The Author
Philip Stefanov is a certified conditioning coach, personal trainer, and fitness instructor. With more than nine years of experience in the industry, he’s helped hundreds of clients improve their nutritional habits, become more consistent with exercise, lose weight in a sustainable way, and build muscle through strength training. He is passionate about writing and has published more than 500 articles on various topics related to healthy nutrition, dieting, calorie and macronutrient tracking, meal planning, fitness and health supplementation, best training practices, and muscle recovery.
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