It’s very important to have enough protein for everyone. Protein is essential to remain healthy, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to reach your bodybuilding goals, such as gaining muscle. If your body is not getting enough protein, not only your body composition will take the brunt, but so will your health. This will further have negative effects on your fitness efforts.
However, lots of people wonder: “How much protein should I eat?”
Well, everyone seems to have a different opinion on the normal daily protein intake. While it’s different from one person to another (it’s pretty obvious that a 250 lbs person should have more protein than a 125 lbs person), we’re going to share more information about it.
How Much Protein Should I Eat?
So, if you’re going to look at official nutritional organizations, analyzing the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake), daily protein intake is pretty modest, recommended at only around 0.36 grams of protein per pound (0.7 g per kg) of body weight. By doing simple math calculations, the daily protein intake amount would be 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man of 70 kg (154 lbs).
The problem is that this daily protein intake is somewhat the bare minimum. In order to understand how many grams of protein per day you actually need, there are lots of factors to consider such as:
- Physical goals
- Overall health
- Activity levels
- Muscle mass
Of course, the more muscle mass and weight you have – the more protein you need to keep it. Moreover, what if you want to add even more muscle mass? You need to increase the amount of protein again. Moreover, a physically active person will also require more protein. The point is – depending on your goals, weight, age, physical activity, etc. the protein intake can greatly vary.
For example, our muscles are predominantly made of protein. Want to build more? Eat more protein! To gain muscle, our bodies must synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down. So, a common recommendation to gain muscle is at least 1 gram of protein per pound (2.2 grams per kg) of body weight, which is significantly more than the recommended DRI. In this case, the same man of 154 lbs (70 kg) should eat 154 grams of protein per day, while staying physically active. That’s roughly 3 times more!
Why Is Protein So Important?
Protein is the main building block of the body. Whether it is to make muscle, tendons, organs, or skin, protein is extremely important serving lots of vital body functions. You need a proper daily protein intake, among other crucial vitamins and minerals to support bodybuilding goals or even to simply stay healthy.
Proteins consist of smaller molecules – amino acids. They link together forming protein chains folding into complex shapes. Protein supports fat loss and muscle gain preventing both abnormal weight loss and gain. If you’re trying to cut fat, protein plays a crucial role in helping you lose weight. You need to burn more calories than you eat, however, protein boosts your metabolic rate (metabolism) and increases the calories you burn. Moreover, it helps reduce your appetite, therefore reducing the amount of calories that you eat, keeping you full.
Comparing protein to fat or carbohydrates (the other two key macronutrients), protein has been proven helpful to keep you fuller for longer. Protein can help reduce the desire for late-night eating, snacks, or junk food by about 50%! It also prevents weight gain (fat gain). A study proves it is effective in reducing the amount of fat participants regain after weight loss by 50% simply by increasing their daily protein intake by 3% (from 15% to 18%)!
Overall, a high protein diet is highly effective at both burning fat and gaining lean muscle mass! Don’t forget that muscles are mostly made of protein. They need to stay in a positive protein balance AKA “nitrogen balance” because protein is high in nitrogen. This helps support muscle maintenance and growth.
A combination of a high daily intake of protein with exercise will help build strength and muscle. While also supporting your cutting goals too!
Protein Side Effects (consuming too much protein)
While there’s little evidence proving that too much protein can cause side effects, studies suggest that it might. The thing is that too much protein is very rarely a problem. Most commonly, it’s a problem mostly for those who have a very high protein diet for a very long period while having a sedentary life.
Too much protein for prolonged periods without working out can lead to:
- Intestinal discomfort and indigestion
- Kidney issues
However, it was mostly associated with kidney issues if the person was already suffering from pre-existing kidney issues even before starting a high-protein diet.
On the other hand, a high protein diet can lower blood pressure, and fight against diabetes – both of which are risk factors for kidneys. In short, a too high protein diet is very rarely a problem, and mostly if you actually abuse it. Such as consuming 5 grams of protein per kg of body weight or even more for long periods.
Where To Get Protein From?
Here is a list of foods that are packed with proteins.
- Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
- Chickpeas and most beans
- Spelt and teff
- Nutritional yeast
- Green peas
But these are plant based foods that are high in protein. Generally, plant based foods are not considered as high as meat-derivative foods though. So, some of the best sources of proteins are considered:
So, tracking your diet (both calories and macronutrients, including protein) can greatly help you hit your bodybuilding goals.
Remember, each food has a certain amount of protein per 100 grams. For example, chicken breast is considered one of the most popular and best protein sources in the world. It contains 31 g of protein per each 100 g of chicken breast you eat.
Summary: How Much Protein Do I Need?
If you’re a healthy weight, do not exercise regularly, and don’t lift weights without plans to change anything, you can aim for 0.36 to 0.6 grams per pound of body weight. Depending on your weight, it usually ranges between 56 to 91 grams per day. Eating less protein than 0.36 g per pound of body weight may not be healthy! Nonetheless, if you’re planning to achieve some bodybuilding goals such as burning fat and/or gaining muscle while lifting weights and staying active, 0.6 grams per pound of the body may not always be enough, some people tend to increase it to at least 0.8 g or even up to 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight!
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