Protein is one of, if not THE, most researched supplements and nutrients. It's a staple in our diet, and runs an insane amount of processed within the body. I mean, our DNA is made of protein!
However, people are always confused on how much they really need. This is because there is always an argument as to what is right. One magazine says this, while some guru says something different. No wonder that everyone is confused. We're presented with too many options!
Now, I' going to start by saying that you need protein. You need a good amount of it too. The variation comes from what you're looking to accomplish.
The standard amount of protein is 0.8g/pound of body weight. This is basically the bare minimum when we're discussing protein intakes. This amount is good enough for someone who isn't very active, but needs to support or maintain some muscle mass. General populations will be fine with this much. However, as you activity increases or other variables change, you're going to need more to support those changes.
For someone who is looking to be a little more active and maybe even grow some muscle mass, more protein is needed. This is when you should look to take your intake from .08g/pound of body weight, up to 1g/pound of body weight. Now, this may seem like a lot to some, and I don't recommend just going straight for it. You are going to have to work your way to it. This may mean, just gradually increasing your intake over time. Trust me, the first time I tried to eat 200g of protein it was hard, but now it's no big deal. The body adapts to it over time. Having that 1g/pound of body weight is enough to support recovery and protein synthesis after workouts. So, if gaining some muscle is your goal, this is the number you should shoot for.
Now, if you are an elite level athlete or looking to seriously put on some muscle mass, then you can consider eating close to 1.2g/pound of body weight. This provides the needed constituents for recovery after intense training. If you are under consuming protein, then you are risking over training. Just remember that as your activity level increases, you need to also increase the protein.
What about weight gain?
Some people may try to argue that eating high amounts of protein will cause you to gain weight, however, that isn't completely true. Protein actually helps you to lose weight and burn body fat. This happens in a few ways:
Increasing your muscle mass, making your metabolism more efficient. Muscle burns more calories than fat.
Increasing your satiety. Protein fills you up and lowers your hunger response. Try eating a ton of chicken breast and then eat more food. Let me know how that goes.
Protein burns calories when you digest it. It takes the most energy to breakdown.
I always emphasize high protein intakes with any client, because it really can and will help people to achieve their goals. It's also a component of the human diet that is under consumed in most.
You should also keep your protein high if you are cutting weight. As you begin to eat in a deficit of calories, you are going to lose some muscle mass. The only way to prevent this from happening is to eat more protein. So, as you decrease calories, you need to increase protein.
As you age, you need more protein. When we age, we lose muscle mass. Tissues begin to die off as the body begins a very slow shutting off. However, we lose things faster if we don't use them. For most elderly, they aren't very active, so how can you preserve muscle mass? You can consume more protein. Now, there are some who will have an illness or disorder that limits the amount of protein they can consume (kidney failure). Those individuals will have a different protocol. However, for the average person, just increase your protein as you age.
Coach Blake do I have to eat every gram?
Eating a ton of protein is hard. That's a lot of meat, and it can be expensive sometimes. That's cool! You don't have to get every bit of protein from meat.
I highly recommend that you grab yourself a protein supplement. This is going to make your life so easy. Especially if you're someone who is always on the go or having trouble making your meals.
There are plants that have protein in them as well! Peas, soybeans, chick peas, and other lentils all have protein within in them. However, it takes a lot more of them versus a piece of meat to get the same amount. My suggestion is that plant proteins just be used as a supplementation versus your main source of protein, however, depending on your moral or religious beliefs plants may be your main source of protein. That's up to you!
We can also get a significant source of protein from dairy source. There are plenty of cheeses such as parmesan or milk that have tons of added protein.
Not to mention the most bioavailable source of protein there is, the egg!
Vary your sources, and eat a bunch of protein rich foods if you are looking to hit your desired numbers.
So, depending on where you are with your goals or what you are trying to achieve, the amount of protein you need may be different.
you have these 3 suggestions:
0.8g/pound of body weight (general pop. sedentary, not too active)
1g/pound of body weight (active, looking to gain muscle mass, recovery)
1.2g/pound of body weight (elite athlete, intense training)
You should fit within one of those three, and start by working your way to the needed numbers!
-Peace and Love-
-- Coach Blake