In the fast-growing world of fitness and nutrition, the pursuit of an optimal diet for muscle gain and fat loss has thrown many people into extreme dietary practices. High-protein diets have quickly gained popularity among fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and athletes due to their obvious benefits. Therefore, some people believe that having more protein is better for their weight and body goals. However, the question arises, is going to such extremes truly worth it? Should you consider a 200-grams-of-protein-a-day meal plan?
In this article, we look at the science behind the 200-grams-of-protein-a-day diet, its potential benefits and risks, and whether this pursuit is sustainable and healthy.
The Basics of Protein
- Protein is one of the most essential macronutrients that supports your body’s structure, function, and overall health. It is composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks of tissues, muscles, and organs, and consuming adequate protein is paramount for muscle synthesis, immune function, and hormone production.
Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. While there are 20 different amino acids that can be arranged in a variety of combinations to create different proteins, they can be categorized into two types: essential and non-essential (15).
- Essential Amino Acids: These are the acids the body cannot produce itself, and must obtain from dietary sources. Examples: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
- Non-Essential Amino Acids: These can be synthesized by the body, so it does not obtain them directly from your diet. Examples: alanine, glycine, and glutamine.
- Protein plays an essential role in the growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues and organs. The synthesis process involves the creation of new proteins from amino acids, which leads to cell development and regeneration.
- Muscle Protein Synthesis: This is essential for those who perform physical activities such as resistance training. Protein ensures the repair and growth of skeletal muscle. Eating adequate protein is paramount for optimizing muscle protein synthesis and ensuring recovery following exercise.
- Enzymes and Hormones: Proteins serve as enzymes, facilitating biochemical reactions in the body. Many hormones such as insulin and growth hormone are proteins that regulate different physiological processes.
- Proteins are the defenders of health and act as antibodies in the immune system that recognize and neutralize foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Immunoglobulins, a type of antibody, are proteins that support immune responses, playing a key role in the body’s defense mechanisms.
- Protein acts as a carrier and transports essential substances such as oxygen, nutrients, and waste products through the body. Hemoglobin, which is found in the red blood cells, is a protein that attaches to oxygen and transports it from the lungs to the tissues.
- Protein provides structural support to cells and tissues, contributing to the stability of various structures in the body. For example, collagen is a fibrous protein that forms the basis of connective tissues, providing strength and elasticity to the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments (16).
- Proteins maintain the body’s acid-base balance and fluid distribution. Plasma proteins, such as albumin, regulate osmotic pressure, which prevents excessive fluid leakage from blood vessels and contributes to the maintenance of proper hydration.
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Do You Need to Go on a 200 Grams Protein a Day Meal Plan?
No, you don’t. A 200-gram protein meal plan is best left to elite athletes and bodybuilders who are looking to gain some lean muscle as most ordinary people do not need this much protein in their diets. The average person only requires 0.8 g of this nutrient per kilogram of body weight (5). This means that 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories should be made up of proteins.
Here is how to determine if you truly need to be on a 200-gram protein meal plan (6):
The Calorie Method
This is the method that is used by many bodybuilders. You take the number of calories you will consume in a day and multiply this figure by 35%. This will give you the maximum number of calories that should come directly from proteins. If you are looking for your minimum number, use 10%. From here, take this number and further divide it by 4 ( 1 g of protein = 4 calories). A quick example is as follows:
For someone eating 1,200 calories a day:
1,200 calories * 35% = 420 calories
420 calories / 4 calories/grams = 105 grams of protein per day
The Bodyweight Method
As discussed above, the average person only requires 0.8 grams per kg of weight as their protein intake a day. To calculate what you need, take your weight and multiply it by 0.8.
70 kg * 0.8 g/kg = 56 g per day
However, athletes and bodybuilders generally require more protein in a day – two to three times more than what you or I need. Athletes are recommended to consume 1.4 to 2 g per kg (9) of their body weight, while bodybuilders may require 2.3 to 3.1 g per kg of lean body mass (1). Therefore, a 95 kg competitive bodybuilder with 6% body fat (12) may require:
95 kg * 94% = 89.3 kg lean body mass
89.3 x 2.5 g/kg = 223 g of protein per day
How to Eat 200 Grams of Protein a Day Meal Plan
The best way of increasing your protein intake is to look for healthy foods that are naturally high in this nutrient. Perfect examples include oily fish, chicken and turkey, eggs, cottage cheese, nuts and nut butter, soybeans and milk, legumes, lentils, and grains (8).
Sample of a 200 Grams of Protein a Day Meal Plan for a Man
The following eating plans are approximately 2,000 calories and they are perfect for anyone who is on a cutting diet. A cutting diet is higher in protein and carbs and will help you maintain lean muscle mass while reducing body fat (7).
Meal 1: Breakfast bowl (17)
2 salami slices with avocado, 2 hard-boiled eggs, olives, spinach, and tomatoes topped with a drizzle of Italian dressing
Per serving: 273 calories, 23 g protein, 13 g fat, 24 g carbs, 8 g fiber
Snack: Peanut butter fruit mix
200 g mixed berries and 24 g powdered peanut butter
Calories: 196, Fat: 5 g, Proteins: 12 g, Carbs: 23 g
2 turkey burger patties, 200 g cauliflower rice, and 200 g sweet potato mash
Calories: 528, Fat: 10 g, Proteins: 61 g, Carbs: 52 g
Meal 3: Protein bar and yogurt bowl
1 protein bar, 1/4 cup breakfast cereal, 150 g mixed berries, 1 scoop protein powder, and 300 g zero-percent yogurt
Calories: 759, Fat: 13 g, Proteins: 79 g, Carbs: 78 g
Night snack: Cottage cheese and pineapple chunks
Half a cup of cheese and 1 cup pineapple chunks
Calories: 160, Fat: 2 g, Proteins: 13 g, Carbs: 24 g
Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,003, Fat: 32.5 g, Proteins: 197 g, Carbs: 202.7 g
2 eggs, 3 egg whites, 50 g spinach, 50 g tomatoes, and 30 g onion
Calories: 214, Fat: 10 g, Proteins: 25 g, Carbs: 6 g
Snack 1: Yogurt and rice cakes
200 g zero-percent yogurt and 2 rice cakes
Calories: 197, Fat: 1 g, Proteins: 22 g, Carbs: 25 g
150 g lean beef, 75 g bell pepper, 125 g kidney beans, 50 g spinach, 100 g tomato sauce, 30 g onions, 3 poppadoms, and salt and pepper to taste
Calories: 465, Fat: 9 g, Proteins: 54 g, Carbs: 42 g
Snack 2: Popcorn and fruit
1 pack of popcorn and 250 g melon
Calories: 173, Fat: 5 g, Proteins: 3 g, Carbs: 29 g
Half a pack of potatoes, 150 g lean beef, 400 g green beans, 100 g kidney beans, 50 g spinach, and 30 g onions
Calories: 530, Fat: 6 g, Proteins: 56 g, Carbs: 63 g
Snack 3: Oats and chocolate
15 g chocolate breakfast cereal, 60 g oats, 20 g protein powder, and a square of dark chocolate
Calories: 422, Fat: 10 g, Proteins: 25 g, Carbs: 58 g
Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,010, Fat: 42 g, Proteins: 184 g, Carbs: 224 g
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How Safe is a 200 Grams of Protein a Day Meal Plan for a Woman?
Generally, adult women require 1,600 to 2,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. This number can be higher or lower depending on age, lifestyle, and physical activity (4). As stated above, the amount of protein required per day is largely dependent on the amount of physical activity a person does in a day.
Therefore, it may be safe for a woman to consume 200 grams of this nutrient (or more) a day, but only if she is an athlete or competitive bodybuilder. Female bodybuilders can consume up to 4,000 calories a day (2) depending on the season, and they have to consume large amounts of protein to help with muscle synthesis and be within the 10-35% range of calories from protein. In addition, for some female bodybuilders, the recommended 2.3 to 3.1 grams of protein per kg lean body mass per day may fall somewhere close to 200 grams of protein.
Can You Have a 200 Grams Protein a Day Meal Plan As a Vegan?
Yes, you can. Many people who follow vegan diets are concerned with how they can eat more protein. This is because veganism does not allow for most traditional sources such as eggs, poultry, beef, and other meats, fish, milk, and milk products.
However, this should not stop you trying this diet. Here is a sample of a one-day vegan 200 grams of protein meal plan:
Meal 1: Avocado toast
2 slices of toasted protein bread, 1 avocado, 1 sliced tomato, 1 apple, and half a cup of red grapes
Calories: 619, Fat: 19 g, Proteins: 33 g, Carbs: 71 g
Snack: Protein bar
Calories: 217, Fat: 10 g, Protein: 10 g, Carbs: 21 g
Meal 2: Beans and rice
90 g of kidney beans, 75 g microwaveable basmati rice, and hot sauce if desired
Calories: 704, Fat: 22 g, Proteins: 26 g, Carbs: 100 g
Snack: Protein smoothie
2 scoops plant-based protein powder, 100 g mixed summer berries, and 2 cups vanilla almond milk
Calories: 466, Fats: 10 g, Proteins: 45 g, Carbs: 18 g
Meal 3: Black bean spaghetti
170 g firm tofu, 2 cups green beans, 100 g mixed peppers, 51 g dry black bean spaghetti, 1 tbsp coconut oil, and 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Calories: 496, Fats: 20 g, Proteins: 45 g, Carbs: 40 g
Meal 4: Seitan and black bean stir-fry (10)
400 g can black beans, 75 g dark brown soft sugar, 3 garlic cloves, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter, and 1 red chili
For the stir-fry – 350 g jar marinated seitan pieces, 1 tbsp cornflour, 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 red pepper, 300 g bok choy, 2 spring onions, and cooked rice noodles or rice to serve
This recipe makes four servings.
Calories: 326, Fat: 8 g, Proteins: 22 g, Carbs: 37 g
Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,828, Fat: 89 g, Proteins: 181 g, Carbs: 287 g
As seen above, you can consume 200 g of protein a day on a vegan diet. However, this sample is quite high in calories. If you are doing a high-protein, low-carb vegan diet, it is best to tweak the above plan to suit your diet.
Here are some fantastic sources of proteins for vegans (11):
- Tempeh and edamame – Like tofu, they are made from soybeans, which are a fantastic source of protein.
- Beans – These are the primary source of proteins for many vegans. Chickpeas are an excellent addition to your menu too.
- Lentils – 1 cup of cooked lentils contains approximately 18 grams of protein.
- Nutritional yeast – This is mostly used as a cheese substitute due to its cheesy flavor – 28 g of this yeast contains 14 g of protein.
- Hemp seeds – These are also a common favorite in the vegan community. Despite coming from the cannabis sativa plant, the seeds will not get you high. Instead, they will give you 10 g of this macronutrient per 28 grams.
- Spirulina – Made from blue-green algae, it has multiple benefits including strengthening the immune system and reducing blood pressure. 2 tablespoons of the powder give you approximately 8 g of protein.
- Seitan – This product is made from wheat gluten and provides you with 25 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Is it Possible to Have 200 Grams of Protein a Day Meal Plan on a Vegetarian Diet?
Yes, it is. Unlike vegans who do not consume any animal products, vegetarians only eschew some animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, and other variants of animal protein. However, they can eat eggs, honey, milk, and other dairy products (13).
In addition to all the above options for vegans, vegetarians can include other sources such as whey protein, eggs, Greek yogurt, cheeses, whey or plant-based protein powders, nuts, and seeds into their diets (3).
Read more: Does Protein Make You Gain Weight?
Side Effects of a 200 Grams Protein Meal Plan
It’s no secret that a high-protein diet has many benefits, including (14):
- Boosts weight loss.
- Keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which prevents snacking.
- Helps build muscle.
- Helps burn more calories as the body requires more energy to digest protein.
However, despite these fantastic benefits, consuming too much protein has some side effects, including:
- Weight gain – If you consume more protein than you need, your body will convert it to sugar to be used for energy or stored as fat. This means that you should probably not use a 200-grams-of-protein-a-day meal plan for weight loss. Most people do not need this much protein in a day, so this diet is unlikely to help you lose weight.
- Kidney disease – This is particularly bad for those with pre-existing kidney disease. This organ is used by the body to filter blood, which ensures the waste byproducts of protein metabolism are discarded. Extra protein intake makes the kidney work harder, which is dangerous if this organ is already ill (18).
- Heart disease – Many people tend to get their protein from meat and dairy products. While this is fine in small amounts, increased or excessive amounts of this can lead to high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol in the body. This places you at a higher risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart attack, and stroke.
- Dangerous for people with diabetes – Once protein is consumed, the body converts any excess to glucose. This increases your blood sugar levels, something that can be life-threatening to people with diabetes.
Is consuming 200 grams of protein a day necessary for everyone?
No, it is not necessary for everyone. The recommended protein intake varies based on factors such as age, activity level, and fitness goals. Most individuals do not require such high levels of protein in their diet.
Is 200 grams of protein a day too much?
Yes, for the average person, 200 grams of protein a day is typically excessive. Most individuals can meet their nutritional needs with a lower protein intake, and such high levels may pose health risks, including kidney strain and increased fat intake.
What are the basics of protein and why is it important for the body?
Protein is a macronutrient that is composed of amino acids, which are essential for muscle synthesis, immune function, hormone production, and overall body structure. It plays a crucial role in various physiological processes.
What does a daily intake of 200 grams of protein look like?
A 200-gram protein intake should be distributed across meals and snacks and include sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, and protein supplements. Careful planning may be required to meet this target.
Can I consume 200 grams of protein in one meal?
Consuming 200 grams of protein in a single meal is not advisable for most people. The body has limitations on the amount of protein it can effectively utilize for muscle synthesis. Spreading protein intake throughout the day is generally more beneficial for muscle protein synthesis and overall health.
What is the best way to get 200 grams of protein a day for vegetarians?
Vegetarians can achieve a high-protein diet through sources such as beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, dairy, and plant-based protein powders.
Is a 200-gram protein meal plan safe for women?
For most women, a 200-gram protein meal plan may not be necessary or beneficial. Protein needs vary, and it’s essential to align dietary choices with individual goals and activity levels.
What are the side effects of consuming too much protein?
Excessive protein intake can lead to weight gain, strain on the kidneys, increased risk of heart disease, and potential issues for individuals with diabetes. Moderation is the key here.
How can you determine your protein needs?
Protein needs can be calculated using methods such as the Calorie Method (caloric intake multiplied by a percentage) or the Bodyweight Method (body weight multiplied by a specific factor).
Can a high-protein diet be suitable for weight loss?
While protein can help with weight loss by promoting satiety and calorie burning, a 200-gram protein meal plan is not recommended for weight loss in the majority of cases due to its potential side effects.
Are there risks associated with a 200-gram protein diet?
Yes, risks include kidney strain, potential heart issues due to increased saturated fat intake, and challenges for individuals with diabetes. You should always consult a healthcare professional before you make significant dietary changes.
What are some vegan sources for a 200-gram protein meal plan?
Vegans can obtain high protein from sources such as tempeh, edamame, beans, lentils, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, and plant-based protein powders.
Can athletes benefit from a 200-gram protein meal plan?
Athletes may require an intake of more than 200 grams of protein a day intake to support their training and muscle synthesis, but individual needs vary. It is recommended to consult a nutrition professional for personalized recommendations.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to trying a 200-grams-of-protein-a-day meal plan, our advice is to leave it to bodybuilders and athletes. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, the chances are that your recommended protein intake (as dictated by calorie intake and body weight) is much lower than this.
The disadvantages of eating 200 grams of protein a day far outweigh the benefits, so it is simply not worth it. If you intend to try a high-protein diet, it is best to talk to your doctor or dietitian first, as they will be able to help you make an informed decision.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation (2014, jissn.biomedcentral.com)
- Female Bodybuilder Diet (2020, livestrong.com)
- How Can a Vegetarian Get 200 Grams of Protein? (2018, livestrong.com)
- How Many Calories Should You Eat per Day to Lose Weight? (2019, livestrong.com)
- How much protein do you need every day? (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- How Much Protein Is Too Much in Bodybuilding? (2020, verywellfit.com)
- How to Follow a Cutting Diet for Weight Loss (2019, healthline.com)
- How to Get 200 Grams of Protein Without Supplements (2019, livestrong.com)
- International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise (2017
- Seitan & black bean stir-fry (n.d, bbcgoodfood.com)
- The 17 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians (2016, healthline.com)
- What Is a Good Body Fat Percentage for a Bodybuilder? (n.d, livestrong.com)
- What is the difference between veganism and vegetarianism? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Is the High-Protein Diet? (2020, verywellfit.com)
- Amino Acids – Types and Effects (2023, everydayhealth.com)
- 9 Important Functions of Protein in Your Body (2023, healthline.com)
- 50 High-Protein Breakfasts For Weight Loss That’ll Keep You Full For Hours, From Dietitians (2023, womenshealthmag.com)
- Here’s How Much Protein You Need in a Day to Build Muscle (2023, healthline.com)