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Today, I’m going to be your personal nutrition coach.
I’m going to share exactly how to eat 250 grams of protein per day, including the specific types of foods, amounts, and a daily meal plan.
I’ll also share 14 of my top tips for boosting your protein intake to hit the 250-gram protein goal.
Let’s jump in!
- Those who will benefit from 250 grams of protein per day are active individuals who require between 2,857 to 4,000 calories per day.
- Getting 250 grams of protein entirely from whole foods can be challenging, so plan to supplement with a high-quality protein powder at least once per day.
- It’s best to work your way up to 250 grams over time, rather than doubling your protein intake overnight, to reduce digestive discomfort.
Who Should Be Eating 250 Grams Of Protein Per Day
In general, I recommend 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for active individuals who engage in regular resistance training. This would mean that 250 grams of protein per day would be appropriate for active people who weigh 250 lbs.
However, if you have a different activity level or fitness goal, then this general guideline of 1 gram of protein per pound might not apply to you.
Here are some specific examples to be sure that 250 grams of protein is right for you:
Sedentary individuals are those who get less than 20-30 minutes of activity per day and have a desk job.
Unlike active individuals, sedentary individuals only need about 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
For most sedentary individuals, 250 grams of protein per day is too high.
Active individuals are those who get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day, or who have an active job that requires standing and/or walking such as bank tellers, mail carriers, and other similar professions.
Studies recommend 0.82 grams to 0.91 grams for active individuals looking to maintain their weight, which is where the general guideline of 1 gram per pound of body weight comes from (it’s simpler “back of the napkin” math).
This guideline applies to all active individuals of any sex or gender since it is based on weight. However, the recommendation will change if your goal is to change your weight by losing fat or building muscle.
The general guideline changes during a fat loss (cutting) phase, to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of goal body weight for active individuals.
Protein intake recommendations are even higher during fat loss than during weight maintenance because protein intake is very important during a fat loss phase to assist with preserving lean muscle mass.
Also, since protein is the most satiating macronutrient, it’s very helpful for managing hunger and cravings that arise during a calorie deficit (when eating fewer calories than you’re burning).
Similar to a cutting phase, the general guideline also changes during a muscle gain (bulking) phase, to 0.7 grams of protein per pound of goal body weight for active individuals.
The reason for this lower intake (compared to cutting and maintenance phases), is that calorie needs for energy are more than met while in a calorie surplus (eating more than your body needs to maintain weight), so there is a “protein-sparing” effect.
This means that protein won’t be used for meeting the body’s energy needs, so it can easily go toward muscle mass.
This meta-analysis concluded that protein intake above 0.7 grams per pound of body weight does not result in further increases in muscle gain, so there is no value in consuming extra amounts of this expensive and filling macronutrient.
Plus, since protein is so filling (satiating), it makes sense to actually try to eat less of it while in a surplus, to avoid feeling uncomfortably full.
- Related Article: Low Budget High Protein Meal Plan
Percent Of Total Calories
A final way of calculating protein intake is as a percentage of total calories. For an active individual, protein should provide 25-35% of total daily calories.
250 grams of protein equals 1,000 calories (protein has 4 calories/gram), so those who need between 2,857 to 4,000 calories per day would need around 250 grams of protein.
- Active individuals with a daily calorie target of 4,000 calories or more should be eating at least 250 grams of protein.
- Active individuals with a daily calorie target of 2,857 calories or less should be eating fewer than 250 grams of protein to avoid exceeding 35% of calories from protein.
Related Article: Does Protein Increase Testosterone? (What New Research Says)
14 Tips For Reaching 250 Grams Of Protein A Day
Now that you’ve determined that you actually need to be eating 250 grams of protein per day, here are my top 14 tips for hitting this protein target:
1. Understand Sources of Protein
To get 250 grams of protein, you’re going to need to know the best food sources for this macronutrient.
I’ve put together this list of the Top 50 Highest Protein Foods to help you see which foods have the most protein per calorie.
The five highest protein sources are:
- Seafood & shellfish
- Egg whites
- Turkey breast (skinless)
- Wild game
- Chicken breast (skinless)
You can also check out my other article Best Single Macro Foods for a downloadable PDF of protein-rich foods.
2. Pick High-Protein Sources of Carbs & Fat
Another tip to help get you to 250 grams of protein per day is to choose higher protein carb and fat sources. Even if it’s just a few extra grams of protein per serving, these grams can add up to make it easier to get to your goal.
Some higher-protein carb options are:
- Beans & Legumes
When you’re thinking about sources of fat, prioritize fat sources like cheese, eggs, nuts, and seeds (which also have protein) rather than butter and oil.
3. Prioritize Protein At Every Meal & Snack
When you start thinking about having a meal or snack, decide on the protein source first, and then build the rest of the meal around it. Reframing the way you build your meals is going to be crucial to get 250 grams of protein per day.
To get 250 grams of protein consistently, you’re going to need to include one or more servings of protein every time you eat.
4. Set A Protein Target For Each Meal & Snack
My favorite way to stay on top of my protein intake throughout the day is to have a protein target for each meal and snack.
This helps you figure out ahead of time how much you need to eat, rather than getting to the end of the day and realizing you need to drink 4 protein shakes before bed to hit your goal.
Take your 250 grams of protein and divide it across the number of meals (including snacks) you plan to eat per day to create your targets.
As a bonus, research shows that when you consume protein evenly over the course of the day, you encourage better muscle retention and growth than having most of your daily protein in one serving.
5. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead may seem like a basic concept but knowing you need to plan ahead and actually planning are two different things.
Hitting 250 grams of protein in one day will not happen by accident: you need to plan your meals and snacks to be sure you have the high-protein foods on hand when it’s time to eat.
This means knowing what and how much you’re going to eat, as well as going to the store to have these foods on hand. Think about the next 5 to 7 days, and plan your meals and snacks.
If you fail to plan, I can almost guarantee that you will not meet your 250 gram protein target.
6. Shop Smart
When you do go to the grocery store, how do you know what to buy? Check your plan (Tip #5), and get in the habit of buying a variety of lean protein sources like chicken and fish, high-protein dairy products like Greek yogurt, and high-protein milk, and some convenience items like protein bars.
You’ll also want to buy items that reflect your schedule and time constraints.
If you have a busy week ahead of you with limited time to prepare your food, then stick to options like pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.
If you have more time to prepare your food, then consider cooking a turkey or a bone-in roast which takes longer to prepare but yields more meat.
7. Prep Your Protein
Once you have your groceries, devote a few hours each week to batch-cooking your protein sources. Batch-cooking ensures that your protein sources will be as convenient as possible, making it more likely that you’ll consume them.
This can look like cooking an entire package of extra lean ground beef (or chicken, turkey, or pork), grilling a tray of chicken breasts or thighs, or putting a roast in the slow cooker.
You can also pre-portion your protein into separate containers based on what you need at each meal (Tip #4), making them easier to grab and go.
8. Increase Your Serving Sizes
If you’re already eating one or more sources of protein in your meals, you might discover that you can hit your target of 250 grams of protein simply by increasing your existing serving sizes.
If you’re stuck around 200 grams of protein per day, then increasing each protein serving size by 25% will get you to 250 grams of protein per day.
- Related Article: 30 Ways To Increase Protein Intake Without Protein Powder.
9. Choose High Protein Snacks
When you’re trying to get 250 grams of protein, a snack isn’t just a snack, it’s a mini meal.
As such, it should be structured the same as a regular meal with a lean protein source, a fruit or vegetable to provide fiber and nutrients, and some fat to make it satisfying.
At FeastGood, our recipe for snacking is protein + fiber + fat, aka “PFF snacking”.
Snacks are opportunities to include a protein source (tip #1) and higher-protein carb and fat sources (tip #2).
If you can’t get whole foods at snack time (i.e. greek yogurt + berries + hemp seeds) at a minimum plan to have a protein bar or ready-made protein shake that provides a blend of protein, carbs, and fat all in one.
- Related articles: 15 Ideas For High-Protein Snacks
10. Find A High-Quality Protein Powder
It can be very challenging to get 250 grams of protein entirely from whole food sources because protein is very filling, meaning it might be physically uncomfortable to eat enough food to get 250 grams of protein.
It can also be more expensive (meat has a hefty price tag) and less convenient than protein powder because meat usually requires cooking/preparation, and needs to be refrigerated.
I highly recommend using protein powder to overcome the challenges of food volume, cost, and convenience of solely using whole foods to meet your 250 gram target.
I’ve tested over 20 whey protein brands and my top recommended product is Transparent Labs Whey Protein (click to read my review).
11. Bake Or Cook With Protein Powder
Now that you’ve got a good protein powder (Tip #10), you can increase the protein content of any meal or snack by cooking with protein powder.
You can add protein powder to recipes like:
- Baked Goods
- Soups, Stews & Chilis
- Stir Fries
In baked goods, I recommend using a flavored protein powder but in meals like soups and stir-fries, it’s best to stick with an unflavored protein powder.
12. Choose High Protein Desserts
Since you can bake with protein powder (Tip #11), there is no excuse for a low-protein dessert. Having a high-protein dessert at the end of the day is the perfect way to finish off your protein macros at the end of the day.
My favorite high-protein desserts are:
For more inspiration, check out our 50 protein powder dessert recipes.
13. Choose High Protein Processed Foods
Another way to boost your protein intake is to search for higher protein alternatives for your favorite processed foods.
These days it’s easy to find higher protein versions of your favorite meals and snack foods.
Some examples include:
- Protein cereal
- Protein pasta
- Protein wraps
- Protein potato chips
- Protein ice cream
- Protein macaroni & cheese
If every food you eat is helping boost your protein intake, then reaching your 250-gram protein target will feel much easier (without compromising on flavor).
14. Track Your Protein Intake
Finally, you can’t know if you’re actually hitting your target of 250 grams if you don’t track your intake. Start tracking your food intake using a macro-tracking app like MacroFactor (click to read my review).
The data from the app will allow you to see what meals and/or days of the week you struggle to get enough protein, and what days you hit your targets easily.
How Much Protein Should Come From Supplements vs. Whole Foods If Eating 250 Grams of Protein A Day?
To avoid missing out on valuable micronutrients found in whole foods, no more than 20-33% of your daily protein should come from supplements. Whole foods should provide at least 66-80% of your daily protein requirements.
At 250 grams per day, this means no more than 50-83 grams of protein powder.
Since each scoop of protein powder provides about 25 grams of protein, on average, this is approximately 2-3 scoops per day.
The same principle applies to food items containing protein powder, like protein bars and ready-made shakes.
Same Meal Plan: 250 Grams of Protein
Here are three examples of meal plans that add up to 150 grams of protein:
1. Omnivore Meal Plan (includes meat, eggs, & dairy)
- Breakfast: 3 eggs + ½ cup (125 g) liquid egg whites, scrambled; 1 cup (80 g) of rolled oats for oatmeal; ¾ cup (175 g) of nonfat plain Greek yogurt topped with 1 cup (152 g) of sliced strawberries (60 g protein)
- Snack: 1 cup (250 g) low-fat cottage cheese; 1 medium apple (154 g); ½ oz (14 g) hemp seeds (35 g protein)
- Lunch: 8 oz (227 g) grilled chicken breast; 1 cup (202 g) cooked brown rice; 4 oz (112 g) steamed broccoli; mixed greens salad; 2 tsp (10 g) olive oil (60 g protein)
- Snack: 1 scoop (30 g) whey isolate protein powder; 1 medium banana (126 g); 1 cup (250mL) skim milk (35 g protein)
- Dinner: 8 oz (227 g) grilled sirloin steak; 4 oz (112 g) baked sweet potato; ½ cup (85 g) steamed spinach; 2 tsp (10 g) butter (63 g protein)
Total: 253 g of protein
2. Vegetarian Meal Plan (includes eggs & dairy)
- Breakfast: 3 eggs + ½ cup (125 g) liquid egg whites, scrambled; 1 cup (85 g) steamed spinach; 2 slices (68 g) sprouted whole grain toast with 2 tbsp (30 g) peanut butter; ½ cup (74 g) fresh blueberries (49 g protein)
- Snack: 1 cup (227 g) nonfat plain Greek yogurt; ½ cup (63g) high protein granola; ½ cup (77 g) fresh cherries (52 g protein)
- Lunch: 8 oz (227 g) extra firm tofu, cubed, stir-fried with ¾ cup (100 g) of mushrooms and 1 cup (100g) of bok choy, served on 1 cup (202 g) cooked brown rice (47 g protein)
- Snack: 1 scoop (30 g) whey isolate protein powder; 1 medium banana (126 g); 1 cup (250mL) high protein skim milk; 1 serving (15 g) powdered peanut butter (48 g protein)
- Dinner: 2 cups (500mL) black turtle beans; ¼ cup (63 g) sugar-free salsa; ½ cup (60 g) part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese; 3 corn tortillas (72 g); 1 extra large (200 g) grilled bell pepper; ¼ cup (60 g) light sour cream (51 g protein)
Total: 248 g of protein
3. Vegan Meal Plan (no animal products)
- Breakfast: 8 oz (227 g) extra firm tofu, fork-mashed, scrambled with ¼ cup (15 g) nutritional yeast and ¾ cup (100 g) sauteed mushrooms; 1 small (53 g) sliced tomato; 2 slices (68 g) sprouted Ezekiel bread with 1 tbsp (15 g) almond butter (60 g protein)
- Snack: ⅔ cup (100 g) roasted lentils, 1 cup (262 g) soy-based yogurt (36 g protein)
- Lunch: 2 cups (200g) grilled eggplant, 2 cups grilled portabella mushrooms (242 g), 1 cup (100g) sauteed kale, 3 roasted red peppers (190 g), 1 cup cooked quinoa (185 g), ¼ cup (60 g) hummus (29 g protein)
- Snack: 2 scoops (82 g) Vega sport plant-based protein powder, 1 medium banana (126 g), 1 cup (250mL) orange juice (63 g protein)
- Dinner: 8 oz (227 g) Banza chickpea-based rotini, 1 cup (250mL) primavera pasta sauce, 2 cups (170 g) chopped romaine lettuce, 2 tsp (10 g) olive oil (58 g protein)
Total: 246 g of protein
Staying On Track: My Practical Recommendations
When you first start trying to eat 250 grams of protein per day, it will probably feel like a ton of food, so it’s best to work your way up to this intake over time.
If you’re currently only eating 125 grams of protein, then it’s not realistic to try to double your protein intake overnight.
Here’s how to start working up to 250 grams of protein per day:
Start by adding 20-30 grams to your existing daily intake for one week; this is the equivalent of adding about 1 scoop of protein powder, or 4 oz of cooked lean meat.
Once you are used to that, then try adding another 20-30 grams of protein per day for a week. Continue to increase your intake in manageable increments until you hit the target of 250 grams.
Aim For Progress, Not Perfection
Some days you might easily hit 250 grams of protein or even go over; other days you struggle to reach the target.
As I mentioned in my comments about tracking your intake, figure out what is working well on the days that you do hit your target, and see how you can apply what you learn to the days where you fall short.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Eating 250 Grams Of Protein Safe?
Unless a doctor or other healthcare provider advises limiting protein intake, eating 250 grams of protein per day is safe for most people as long as it does not exceed 35% of daily calories.
Exceeding this intake would impact your intake of other important nutrients (carbs, fats, and micronutrients).
Can I Eat 250 Grams Of Protein With Just 1 Source of Protein?
It is possible to eat all 250 grams of protein from just one source such as all from tuna, or all from steak, but this is not ideal.
More variety in dietary protein sources ensures a sufficient amount and variety of micronutrients, as each source will have a different micronutrient profile.
Can I Eat 250 Grams Of Protein In One Sitting?
Yes, it’s possible to eat 250 grams of protein in one sitting, but this is not ideal. This volume of food will lead to digestive distress. It could also limit the body’s ability to get other essential nutrients.
According to this study, each meal should have 0.4 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
How Many Calories Is 250 Grams Of Protein?
The calorie content of 250 grams of pure protein with no additional grams of carbohydrate or fat is 1,000 calories.
Each gram of protein provides about 4 calories. But, in reality, most high-protein foods also contain at least a few grams of carbs and/or fats, which provide additional calories.
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About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.