Protein Intake: How Much Do You Really Need?

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By:  Dr. Oemil Rodriguez MD /  Sport Nutrition Specialist

In the world of bodybuilding, popular belief has always been that more is better. More sets, more reps, and more weight will lead to more gains and when it comes to protein intake, why would this belief be any different. It makes sense that the more protein we eat, the more muscle we will build and if it makes sense then it must be true. High protein diets are highly prevalent in the bodybuilding industry but what exactly is a high-protein diet and how much do we truly need to build muscle, lose fat and still perform.

For starters let’s define what a high-protein diet really is. Popular belief would has us to believe that a high-protein diet means that the vast majority of your daily caloric intake is in the form of protein but a high-protein diet is simply a diet in which the daily protein intake exceeds the recommended protein intake suggested by the American dietetic Association (ADA). Current recommendations by the ADA is that the average individual consume 0.8g/kg of lean body weight a day of protein in their daily diet. This means that a typical 80 kg person should consume 64g of protein a day in order to maintain their muscle mass assuming that their daily caloric intake is sufficient to meet their daily metabolic needs.  This amount of protein has been proven to be sufficient for the average individual regardless of the age or sex of the individual however this does not hold true for athletes engaged in endurance or resistance training including bodybuilders.  Since the rate of muscle protein degradation and subsequent synthesis of muscle protein following endurance or high intensity resistance training is greater in athletes, the amount of daily protein intake that is required for an athlete to maintain and even stimulate muscle growth far exceeds that of the recommendations set forth by the American dietetic Association hence, the high-protein diet.

So exactly how much protein is recommended in a high-protein diet?  Well if you were to walk into your local gym and ask 10 people you would probably get 10 different answers.  It is important to understand that not all high-protein diets are the same and not all will provide the same results. Ketogenic diets, a popular option when it comes to weight loss, have you consume the vast majority, anywhere from 50-70%, of your daily caloric intake in the form of protein, 10-30% in the form of fats with very minimal, 10-20%. Although this option is fairly effective for losing weight, it has very little value in athletes because of the muscles dependence on muscle glycogen stores during such exercises. Such a decrease could lead to decrease in exercise performance as well as muscle regeneration which would ultimately lead to a reduced ability to grow muscle or keep hard earned muscle.

Another popular option among bodybuilders is the 40/30/30 diet in which 40% of your daily caloric intake comes from the form of carbohydrates, 30% coming from proteins and the last 30% coming in the form of fats.  This option appears to be more reasonable and more

Sustainable than a ketogenic diet. It provides for a fair amount of carbohydrate intake which allows for improved exercise capacity when compared to a ketogenic diet, contains more than ADA recommended 0.8g/kg/day of protein which allows for improved muscle synthesis and recovery as well as an adequate amount of fat which is essential for maintenance of hormone levels. However, depending on your daily caloric intake, following this diet might lead to daily protein ingestion far greater than what you actually need on a daily basis regardless of the intensity of your training.

So how much protein do you really need? According to the American dietetic Association and the international Society of sports nutrition, resistance training athletes should consume anywhere from 1.6-2g/kg of protein per day and endurance athletes consume 1.4-7g/kg.  These recommendations are based on years of studies which have shown no significant increase in the benefit of higher amounts of protein intake and although it is recognized that some of these studies have been flawed in regards to the subjects energy balance and caloric intake which could have hindered further gains, no study has revealed a significant in muscle hypertrophy, strength or recovery.

As we can see, high-protein diets are necessary for muscle growth but not the amount believed by many. So how can you achieve you necessary protein requirements? I recommend either Chrome Whey or Iso-28 from Chrome Supps to supplement your daily protein requirements. One scoop of either after your workout will assist in muscle repair and recovery for better muscle development and growth.