Benefits of Hiking.

hiking with friends logo

The warm sunshine on your face, the sound of the wind rushing through the trees overhead, and the soft earthy feel of the trail under your boots. Not only are these experiences enjoyable to have, but they’re good for you, too.

Hiking is proven to have many health benefits, ranging from physical exercise you get when out on the trail, to emotional or mental relief that comes from being in nature.

hikers in the distance hiking up red rocks
Hiking in Canyonlands National Park

NPS Photo / M. Reed

Physical Exercise

Hiking is one of the best ways to get exercise. No matter what type of trail you find yourself on, hiking is a great whole-body workout—from head to toe and everything in between.

Check out all of these physical benefits of hiking:

  • Building stronger muscles and bones
  • Improving your sense of balance
  • Improving your heart health
  • Decreasing the risk of certain respiratory problems

Whether you find yourself scrambling up a steep incline or walking on a winding dirt path, hiking in our national parks is the perfect opportunity to get a work out!

backpackers on a mountain top
Hiking at Wrangell St. Elias Park & Preserve

NPS Photo

Mental Health

Being in nature can boost your mood and improve mental health. Spending quality time in the great outdoors reduces stress, calms anxiety, and can lead to a lower risk of depression, according to a study done by researchers at Stanford University. In addition to having mental health benefits, being outdoors opens up your senses to your surroundings and improves your sensory perception. Taking in the sights, smells, and feelings of nature has so many health benefits it can even be prescribed by a doctor.

A man with a child on his shoulders walk down a dirt trail
Hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

NPS Photo / Jackson

Relational Health

You don’t have to go it alone next time you lace up your hiking boots. Grab a friend, neighbor, or family member for more fun on the trail. Hiking with a partner, or even in a group, can improve the strength and health of your relationships. Because hiking ranges in difficulty from an extremely challenging climb to a casual way of spending time outside, it’s a great way to strengthen the friendships or bonds you have with your companions. Whether it’s with a younger sibling, neighborhood friend, or even a grandparent, hiking a trail together can bring you closer and help build a healthy relationship.

A hiker stands with outstretched arms, behind her a blue lake in the distance
Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo courtesy of Hilary Terrell

Take a Hike

National parks and their many health benefits are open to anyone, no matter who you are and where you come from. There are more than 400 national parks for you explore across the country, and each one presents its own unique opportunities for experiencing nature. Don’t be afraid to lace up your boots and grab a walking stick. The opportunities and benefits of hiking are waiting for you, all you have to do is go.

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How to Be Happy: 25 Habits to Add to Your Routine.

 

Happiness looks different for everyone. For you, maybe it’s being at peace with who you are. Or having a secure network of friends who accept you unconditionally. Or the freedom to pursue your deepest dreams.

Regardless of your version of true happiness, living a happier, more satisfied life is within reach. A few tweaks to your regular habits can help you get there.

Habits matter. If you’ve ever tried breaking a bad habit, you know all too well how engrained they are.

Well, good habits are deeply engrained, too. Why not work on making positive habits part of your routine?

Here’s a look at some daily, monthly, and yearly habits to help kickstart your quest. Just remember that everyone’s version of happiness is a little different, and so is their path to achieving it.

If some of these habits create added stress or just don’t fit your lifestyle, ditch them. With a little time and practice, you’ll figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.

1.Smile

You tend to smile when you’re happy. But it’s actually a two-way street.

We smile because we’re happy, and smiling causes the brain to release dopamine, which makes us happier.

That doesn’t mean you have to go around with a fake smile plastered on your face all the time. But the next time you find yourself feeling low, crack a smile and see what happens. Or try starting each morning by smiling at yourself in the mirror.

2. Exercise

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and symptoms of depression while boosting self-esteem and happiness.

Even a small amount of physical activity can make a difference. You don’t have to train for a triathlon or scale a cliff — unless that’s what makes you happy, of course.

The trick is not to overexert. If you suddenly throw yourself into a strenuous routine, you’ll probably just end up frustrated (and sore).

 

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Consider these exercise starters:

Remind yourself of any fun activities you once enjoyed, but that have fallen by the wayside. Or activities you always wanted to try, such as golf, bowling, or dancing.

3. Get plenty of sleep

No matter how much modern society steers us toward less sleep, we know that adequate sleep is vitalTrusted Source to good health, brain function, and emotional well-being.

Most adults need about 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night. If you find yourself fighting the urge to nap during the day or just generally feel like you’re in a fog, your body may be telling you it needs more rest.

Here are a few tips to help you build a better sleep routine:

  • Write down how many hours of sleep you get each night and how rested you feel. After a week, you should have a better idea how you’re doing.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Reserve the hour before bed as quiet time. Take a bath, read, or do something relaxing. Avoid heavy eating and drinking.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Invest in some good bedding.
  • If you have to take a nap, try to limit it to 20 minutes.

If you consistently have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder requiring treatment.

4. Eat with mood in mind

You already know that food choices have an impact on your overall physical health. But some foods can also affect your state of mind.

For example:

  • Carbohydrates release serotonin, a “feel good” hormone. Just keep simple carbs — foods high in sugar and starch — to a minimum, because that energy surge is short and you’ll crash. Complex carbs, such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains, are better.
  • Lean meat, poultry, legumes, and dairy are high in protein. These foods release dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost energy and concentration.
  • Highly processed or deep-fried foods tend to leave you feeling down. So will skipping meals.

Start by making one better food choice each day.

For example, swap a big, sweet breakfast pastry for some Greek yogurt with fruit. You’ll still satisfy your sweet tooth, and the protein will help you avoid a mid-morning energy crash. Try adding in a new food swap each week.

5. Be grateful

Simply being grateful can give your mood a big boost, among other benefits. For example, a recent two-part study found that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on feelings of hope and happiness.

Start each day by acknowledging one thing you’re grateful for. You can do this while you’re brushing your teeth or just waiting for that snoozed alarm to go off.

As you go about your day, try to keep an eye out for pleasant things in your life. They can be big things, such as knowing that someone loves you or getting a well-deserved promotion.

But they can also be little things, such as a co-worker who offered you a cup of coffee or the neighbor who waved to you. Maybe even just the warmth of the sun on your skin.

With a little practice, you may even become more aware of all the positive things around you.

6. Give a compliment

Research shows that performing acts of kindness can help you feel more satisfied.

Giving a sincere compliment is a quick, easy way to brighten someone’s day while giving your own happiness a boost.

Catch the person’s eye and say it with a smile so they know you mean it. You might be surprised by how good it makes you feel.

If you want to offer someone a compliment on their physical appearance, make sure to do it in a respectful way. Here are some tips to get you started.

7. Breathe deeply

You’re tense, your shoulders are tight, and you feel as though you just might “lose it.” We all know that feeling.

Instinct may tell you to take a long, deep breath to calm yourself down.

Turns out, that instinct is a good one. According to Harvard Health, deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress.

The next time you feel stressed or at your wit’s end, work through these steps:

  1. Close your eyes. Try to envision a happy memory or beautiful place.
  2. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose.
  3. Slowly breathe out through your mouth or nose.
  4. Repeat this process several times, until you start to feel yourself calm down.

If you’re having a hard time taking slow, deliberate breaths, try counting to 5 in your head with each inhale and exhale.

8. Acknowledge the unhappy moments

A positive attitude is generally a good thing, but bad things happen to everyone. It’s just part of life.

If you get some bad news, make a mistake, or just feel like you’re in a funk, don’t try to pretend you’re happy.

Acknowledge the feeling of unhappiness, letting yourself experience it for a moment. Then, shift your focus toward what made you feel this way and what it might take to recover.

Would a deep breathing exercise help? A long walk outside? Talking it over with someone?

Let the moment pass and take care of yourself. Remember, no one’s happy all the time.

9. Keep a journal

A journal is a good way to organize your thoughts, analyze your feelings, and make plans. And you don’t have to be a literary genius or write volumes to benefit.

It can be as simple as jotting down a few thoughts before you go to bed. If putting certain things in writing makes you nervous, you can always shred it when you’ve finished. It’s the process that counts.

Not sure what to do with all the feelings that end up on the page? Our guide to organizing your feelings can help.

10. Face stress head-on

Life is full of stressors, and it’s impossible to avoid all of them.

There’s no need to. Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal says that stress isn’t always harmful, and we can even change our attitudes about stress. Learn more about the upside of stress.

For those stressors you can’t avoid, remind yourself that everyone has stress — there’s no reason to think it’s all on you. And chances are, you’re stronger than you think you are.

Instead of letting yourself get overwhelmed, try to tackle the stressor head-on. This might mean initiating an uncomfortable conversation or putting in some extra work, but the sooner you tackle it, the sooner the pit in your stomach will start to shrink.

Weekly Habits…

11. Declutter

Decluttering sounds like a big project, but setting aside just 20 minutes a week can have a big impact.

What can you do in 20 minutes? Lots.

Set a timer on your phone and take 15 minutes to tidy up a specific area of one room — say, your closet or that out-of-control junk drawer. Put everything in its place and toss or give away any extra clutter that’s not serving you anymore.

Keep a designated box for giveaways to make things a little easier (and avoid creating more clutter).

Use the remaining 5 minutes to do a quick walk through your living space, putting away whatever stray items end up in your path.

You can do this trick once a week, once a day, or anytime you feel like your space is getting out of control.

12. See friends

you got a friend in me

Humans are social beings, and having close friends can make us happier.

Who do you miss? Reach out to them. Make a date to get together or simply have a long phone chat.

In adulthood, it can feel next to impossible to make new friends. But it’s not about how many friends you have. It’s about having meaningful relationships — even if it’s just with one or two people.

Try getting involved in a local volunteer group or taking a class. Both can help to connect you with like-minded people in your area. And chances are, they’re looking for friends, too.

Companionship doesn’t have to be limited to other humans. Pets can offer similar benefits, according to multiple studies.

Love animals but can’t have a pet? Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter to make some new friends — both human and animal.

13. Plan your week

Feel like you’re flailing about? Try sitting down at the end of every week and making a basic list for the following week.

Even if you don’t stick to the plan, blocking out time where you can do laundry, go grocery shopping, or tackle projects at work can help to quiet your mind.

You can get a fancy planner, but even a sticky note on your computer or piece of scrap paper in your pocket can do the job.

14. Ditch your phone

Unplug. Really.

Turn off all the electronics and put those ear buds away for at least one hour once a week. They’ll still be there for you later. If you still want them, that is.

If you haven’t unplugged in a while, you might be surprised at the difference it makes. Let your mind wander free for a change. Read. Meditate. Take a walk and pay attention to your surroundings. Be sociable. Or be alone. Just be.

Sound too daunting? Try doing a shorter amount of time several times a week.

15. Get into nature

hiking with friends trail

Spending 30 minutes or more a week in green spaces can help lower blood pressure and depression, according to a 2016 studyTrusted Source.

Your green space could be anything from your neighborhood park, your own backyard, or a rooftop garden — anywhere you can appreciate some nature and fresh air.

Better yet, add some outdoor exercise into the mix for extra benefit.

16. Explore meditation

There are many methods of meditation to explore. They can involve movement, focus, spirituality, or a combination of all three.

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sitting quietly with your own thoughts for 5 minutes. Even the deep breathing exercises mentioned earlier can serve as a form of meditation.

17. Consider therapy

We’re certainly happier when we learn how to cope with obstacles. When you’re faced with a problem, think about what got you through something similar in the past. Would it work here? What else can you try?

If you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, consider speaking with a therapist on a weekly basis. You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental health condition or overwhelming crisis to seek therapy.

Therapists are trained to help people improve coping skills. Plus, there’s no obligation to continue once you start.

Even just a few sessions can help you add some new goodies to your emotional toolbox.

Worried about the cost? Here’s how to afford therapy on any budget.

18. Find a self-care ritual

It’s easy to neglect self-care in a fast-paced world. But your body carries your thoughts, passions, and spirit through this world, doesn’t it deserve a little TLC?

Maybe it’s unwinding your workweek with a long, hot bath. Or adopting a skin care routine that makes you feel indulgent. Or simply setting aside a night to put on your softest jammies and watch a movie from start to finish.

Whatever it is, make time for it. Put it in your planner if you must, but do it.

Monthly habits

19. Give back

If you find that giving daily compliments provides a needed boost to your mood, considering making a monthly routine of giving back on a larger scale.

Maybe that’s helping out at a food bank on the third weekend of every month, or offering to watch your friend’s kids one night per month.

20. Take yourself out

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No one to go out with? Well, what rule says you can’t go out alone?

Go to your favorite restaurant, take in a movie, or go on that trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Even if you’re a social butterfly, spending some deliberate time alone can help you reconnect with the activities that truly make you happy.

21. Create a thought list

You arrive for an appointment with 10 minutes to spare. What do you do with that time? Pick up your cell phone to scroll through social media? Worry about the busy week you have ahead of you?

Take control of your thoughts during these brief windows of time.

At the start of each month, make a short list of happy memories or things you’re looking forward to on a small piece of paper or on your phone.

When you find yourself waiting for a ride, standing in line at the grocery store, or just with a few minutes to kill, break out the list. You can even use it when you’re just generally feeling down and need to change up your thoughts.

Yearly habits

22. Take time to reflect

The start of a new year is a good time to stop and take inventory of your life. Set aside some time to catch up with yourself the way you would with an old friend:

  • How are you doing?
  • What have you been up to?
  • Are you happier than you were a year ago?

But try to avoid the pitfall of judging yourself too harshly for your answers. You’ve made it to another year, and that’s plenty.

If you find that your mood hasn’t improved much over the last year, consider making an appointment with your doctor or talking to a therapist. You might be dealing with depression or even an underlying physical condition that’s impacting your mood.

23. Reevaluate your goals

People change, so think about where you’re heading and consider if that’s still where you want to go. There’s no shame in changing your game.

Let go of any goals that no longer serve you, even if they sound nice on paper.

24. Take care of your body

healthy or unhealthy foods

You hear it all the time, including several times in this article, but your physical and mental health are closely intertwined.

As you build habits to improve your happiness, make sure to follow up with routine appointments to take care your body:

  • see your primary care physician for an annual physical
  • take care of any chronic health conditions and see specialists as recommended
  • see your dentist for an oral exam and follow up as recommended
  • get your vision checked

25. Let go of grudges

inner circle

This is often easier said than done. But you don’t have to do it for the other person.

Sometimes, offering forgiveness or dropping a grudge is more about self-care than compassion for others.

Take stock of your relationships with others. Are you harboring any resentment or ill will toward someone? If so, consider reaching out to them in an effort to bury the hatchet.

This doesn’t have to be a reconciliation. You may just need to end the relationship and move on.

If reaching out isn’t an option, try getting your feelings out in a letter. You don’t even have to send it to them. Just getting your feelings out of your mind and into the world can be freeing.

8 Digestive Health Supplements.

Stuck in a rut!!

Hello everyone have you ever felt stuck in a rut where you just try or do anything and everything to get out of it and it just does not seem posssible? weather it be spiritual, financially or just having a better way of life for you or your immediate family. in those moments that you feel hopeless and almost like you have your hands tied behind your back or perhaps mental fog has set in your mind or way of thinking.

most of the time is that we are trying way to hard to accoplish those goals or task at hand. but we have to realised that we must take a step back and relax take a breather let our minds take a mental break in the process becuase you will bet burned out if not.

Here are afew things that you can do to give your mind a break.

 

  1. Listen to soothing music or sounds that stimulate your brain into relaxing.mind waves

 

2. Go out for a walk weather it be with friends just around the block maybe to a park were they might have a track field. Going to the beach and taking in the sounds of the waves and the sounds of the seagulls and just the ambient noise that is soothing and calming to the soul..

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3. Going hiking enjoying the great outdoors sothing that will lift your spirits and will give you a sense of hope a sense of accomplishment.

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4. Get together with friends that will make you happy and will give you hope that will encourage you to accomplish whatever itr is that you are trying to do. friends that are in the same mental level as you or higher sos that your thincking or your brainstorming gerts challenged and find results to issues that you might not be capable at all by yourself.

inner circle

5. Staying in good health is possibly the biggest challenges amongs everyone. We have so many temptations as far as foods this is were our will really gets tested. we must make those choices now because in the long run that will catch up with us and we will definitely pay for it..

healthy or unhealthy foods

 

Please leave a comment below i would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

How to Get in Shape After a Long Period of Inactvity.

How to Get in Shape After a Long Period of Inactvity

Inactivity breeds complacency. Dropping onto your couch after a long day at work has become a comfortable habit. And, even though you know you should get in shape, it’s tough to overcome the mental resistance. Exercise takes work and discipline. Getting in shape after being sedentary means making a physical and mental commitment to improving your health and becoming physically fit. There’s satisfaction to getting in shape after a long period of inactivity, not only from looking better than you have in years, but from participating in activities that challenge and inspire you.

Step 1

Visualize yourself where you want to be.

Stop making excuses. Rid your mind of all the negative chatter that’s been holding you back from getting in shape. No more, “I can’t” or “I’m too tired.” Replace those kinds of statements with positive affirmations that speak to your goals — whether those are to have better health, a toned body or improved self-esteem. Declare your intent to get back in shape on a daily basis and visualize what you want your body and your life to look like once you’re in shape. Pictures of what you want to look like, or what you used to look like, may be the simple motivators you need to become re-inspired every day, so put them where you’re bound to see them, at work and at home.

Step 2

Buy yourself some high quality running shoes.

Get your gear together. Buy yourself the best running shoes you can afford. If your feet hurt from ill-fitting sneakers, you won’t look forward to putting them on. The same goes for your workout clothes. If they’re dingy or have holes, you won’t want to be seen in them and that can be a de-motivator. Purchase, rent or borrow anything you might need to kick-start your fitness plan – that means everything from a yoga mat, workout DVDs, water bottle or gym bag. Having all your tools at the ready will give you less time to ponder and more incentive to road test your gear.

Step 3

Put on some of your favorite tunes.

Start slow. Even though the Centers for Disease Control advocates 150 to 300 minutes every week, or 20 to 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity, you can start getting back in shape by working out for 10 minutes at a time. Set the countdown timer on your phone and take a brisk walk around your neighborhood. Put on your favorite dance tunes and let your spirit move you around the living room. As long as your chosen activity gets your heart rate up, you can be as creative as you like. When your fitness level improves, then exercise for 20 to 30 minutes a day doing an activity you enjoy.

Step 4

Buy fresh produce and eat healthy!

Change your diet to reflect your commitment to getting in shape. Swap out the prepackaged, overly sweet or salty foods for healthier ones. Buy fresh, luscious fruits and vegetables, leaner cuts of meat and whole-grain products. Use low-fat dairy products and fill jars with a variety of nuts and seeds that you can snack on when your energy stores need a boost. Pour over recipes that you’ve never tried. Experiment with exotic spice blends — anything to change what you have been doing into something new and exciting. Getting in shape never has to be boring.

Here’s how much protein you really need

eggs

 

 ” Eggs are a great source of protein, and contrary to popular belief they’re not bad for your cholesterol”

Gym buffs get a lot of grief for their shaker bottles full of chalky protein powder—but should they? They, like so many of the rest of us, are just trying to fuel their bodies properly. And when it comes to protein, there’s not a lot of clear guidance.

Let’s start with the basics: Everyone needs protein. Your body breaks it down into its constituent amino acids, then uses them to build other proteins, like enzymes or those that make up collagen or the cytoskeletons inside your cells. You also need them to build new skeletal muscle. The question, of course, is how much protein you need to eat in order to fulfill all these bodily requirements.

For a long time, nutritionists maintained that although athletes need more calories total, that people didn’t need more protein intake if they were doing intensive exercise. Powerlifters and bodybuilders long ignored that advice and ate enormous amounts of protein, using the logic that they needed more amino acids to build up new muscle mass. And in recent years, the field of nutrition has come around to something closer to that view—that optimal protein intake is probably higher for some athletes, especially if you’re building muscle.

But there’s also been a conflicting idea: that eating too much protein was bad for your kidneys. As a filtration organ, your kidneys are responsible for removing excess nutrients and electrolytes and various toxins from your blood and sending them out in your urine. This includes excess amino acids from eating a lot of protein, so the principle seemed sound: if you take in too much, you don’t necessarily improve your muscle function, but you might be straining your kidneys.

Research hasn’t really borne this out. Several studies have shown that even high intake isn’t associated with a decrease in renal function. Some research has found that people who already have impaired kidneys might benefit from a low protein diet, but even those studies have found mixed results.

That’s not to say that you can’t have too much protein, though. It’s just that what’s problematic about too much protein isn’t the impact on specific organs, but rather that you start sacrificing other nutritional intakes. If you only eat meat, for instance, you may have virtually no carbohydrate intake, and you need carbohydrates to fuel your brain and muscles with easily accessible glucose molecules. You also need fats to use in your cellular membranes and to maintain your hair and skin. If you’re sacrificing these other macronutrients for the sake of protein, you’re eating too much protein.

But what about the rest of us, who are mostly eating some combination of all the macronutrients? How much are we supposed to eat? The answer depends on a lot on the amount and type of exercise you do.

I mostly exercise by walking, or I don’t really exercise at all

Congratulations! You’re the person that the recommended daily allowance, or RDA, was made for. In the U.S. and Canada, that means you’re advised to eat about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day. You should calculate this for your specific weight, but for the average American man, who weighs about 89 kilograms (or 196 pounds) that means 71 grams total. It’s a bit less for the average woman, as she weighs around 168 pounds (or 76 kilograms) and would need around 61 grams of protein daily.

“In general, this guideline works for most people,” says Jessi Haggerty, a registered dietician and trainer in Somerville, MA, “but it’s best to focus on your whole diet, and making sure you’re consuming enough energy all together. If you’re doing that, and consuming protein at most meals and snacks, then it’s highly unlikely that you’re not meeting your protein requirements.”

It’s pretty easy to see when you start to look at how much protein is in even small amounts of animal meats. For every 100 grams of chicken breast (which is roughly 3.5 ounces, and likely around the size of a standard chunk), you get 31 grams of protein, which is already half your daily needs if you’re on the lower end of the weight spectrum. A 9-ounce steak has a full 78 grams of protein, so with one ribeye you’re pretty much set.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, despite the myths, it’s not hard to get all the protein you need—again, you just have to take a little care. That same 100 grams in black beans gets you 21 grams of protein. That’s a bit less than chicken, but the beans also boast 16 grams of fiber—so they’ll be filling, and arguably more nutritious than a chicken breast on its own. Or take nuts, which not only have healthy fats but also multiple essential vitamins. Walnuts have 15 grams of protein per cup (which, if they’re in halves, weigh roughly 100 grams). A cup of whole almonds gets you twice as much protein. Now, nuts also have a lot of calories, since they have plenty of (again, healthy) fats, so no one is saying you should get all your protein that way. But there are plenty of ways to get your daily protein needs without turning to animal products; you just have to make sure you’re grazing on a good variety of whole foods.

I run, or do some other kind of endurance exercise

This is probably where there’s the most debate. You likely need slightly more than the RDA of protein, because the average American is way more sedentary than you are. But because the goal of most endurance exercise isn’t to bulk up all your muscles, you don’t need as much as a powerlifter. “If you are active you will need additional protein,” says Jay Hoffman, a professor in the Sport and Exercise Science program at University of Central Florida. But he still recommends just 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight for endurance athletes, which is about on par with other recommendations in the scientific literature. This 2007 review suggests 1.2 to 1.4, and this 2011 overview cites anywhere from 1.2 to 1.7 (though that also encompasses resistance trained athletes). A 2004 study in the journal Nutritionsuggests a bit lower, somewhere around 1.1 grams per kilogram, as a minimum required amount, but notes that individual needs may go up to 1.6. So you might want to take a look at your dietary spread to double check that you’re getting enough protein, but if you’re eating a balanced diet you’re probably already set.

I lift weights, or do some other kind of resistance training

Protein requirements are going to be highest for anyone trying to build muscle, and even someone who is aiming to maintain muscle mass needs to eat enough protein to prevent muscle breakdown (especially if you’re getting a borderline amount of total calories). Hoffman recommends between 1.6 and 2.0 grams per kilogram bodyweight. “Closer to 1.6 would be likely sufficient for the recreational lifter,” he says, “but no harm is done if you consume more.”

That means if you weigh 80 kilograms (176 pounds), you need about 126 grams of protein daily. If you’re getting your protein from whole foods, as opposed to protein powder or other drinks, you can pretty easily attain that intake as long as you plan your eating a bit. But it’s also why powerlifters like to use protein powder—it’s a super convenient way to up your intake without too much thinking. That being said, it’s inadvisable to get most of your protein that way. Natural protein sources pack in lots of other nutrients, and since your body has to break down the food first, you get the dosage of protein over a longer period of time instead of one big dump. That helps your system push the protein to where you need it, instead of filtering it out into your pee.

Haggerty also notes that it’s important to get a variety of protein sources—don’t just focus on meat. Incorporate fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and beans as well.

I’m still not sure what to do. Help!

This is where nutritionists come in handy. “Protein requirements can differ from person to person,” Haggerty explains, so “depending on what type of exercise they do, so working one-on-one with a dietitian can be beneficial if you’re unsure if your needs are being met!”

If you can’t afford to see a specialist, aim for one of the guidelines listed here based on your level of exercise. You’re unlikely to hurt your kidneys if you don’t stray too far from those recommendations, and it’s difficult to eat a harmful amount of protein if you’re eating a balanced diet, anyway. Remember, the best diet advice is generally the most boring: eat a variety of foods in moderation. And enjoy it.

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