How Much Protein Per Day To Lose Weight
If you want to lose weight, aim for a daily protein intake between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight . Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram if aiming for weight loss.
My practical recommendation to people is that if you carry a BMI of over 30 or a body fat percentage above 25-30% it makes more sense to base your protein recommendations off of your goal weight.
For the correct amount of protein to gain muscle, check this resource out.
Limitations Of The Above Research
Youve probably noticed a big limitation of the research weve covered so far: its short term. We only see acute effects of protein intake.
In the long-term, theres good evidence to suggest that how much protein you eat within a single mean doesnt matter nearly as much as how much protein you eat throughout the day.
One good example of that is intermittent fasting. Folks who follow IF routinely fast for 16-18 hours and consume their daily dose of protein within one or two meals. And they build muscle just fine.
Dont believe me? Take a look at Brad Pilon and Martin Berkhan.
When most bros hear about fasting for 16-18 hours each day, they can feel their muscles cringing away. But the fact is, splitting up your protein intake only seems to add an unnecessary layer of complexity.
In one study, the researchers found that IF doesnt affect protein metabolism . They found that consuming 101 grams of protein within a four-hour window had no different effects on lean mass preservation when compared to a more traditional eating pattern.
In a different paper, the researchers examined the effects of reduced meal frequency . Over the course of sixteen weeks, subjects ate their calories in either one or three meals. They also consumed roughly 86 grams of protein daily .
What they found was that all subjects maintained their body weight, but those that consumed just one meal experienced greater hunger, and had lost some fat, but not muscle.
Include Protein In Each Meal
Whether you eat three or six meals a day, its safe to include some protein in each one. This will allow you to hit your daily protein needs and you wont have to stuff yourself with tons of protein in a single sitting.
Remember: protein is very satiating and if youre someone who struggles to eat enough food as it is, its better to space it out over multiple meals.
But this is not to say that, if you do follow intermittent fasting, you are wasting potential gains. Plenty of guys have built amazing physiques while following IF and, as we saw from the research, as long as the protein intake is sufficient, you wont harm your muscle-building abilities.
To paraphrase what Martin Berkhan said in one of this articles:
When I eat, I eat big. I cant satisfy myself with 5 or 6 small meals. Im constantly hungry. Im much better off eating one or two giant meals.
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Higher Acute Anabolic Ceiling Than Previously Thought
More recently, Macnaughton et al. employed a randomized, double-blind, within-subject design whereby resistance-trained men participated in two trials separated by ~2 weeks. During one trial subjects received 20 g of whey protein immediately after performing a total body resistance training bout during the other trial the same protocol was instituted but subjects received a 40-g whey bolus following training. Results showed that the myofibrillar fractional synthetic rate was ~20% higher from consumption of the 40 g compared to the 20 g condition. The researchers speculated that the large amount of muscle mass activated from the total body RT bout necessitated a greater demand for AA that was met by a higher exogenous protein consumption. It should be noted that findings by McNaughton et al. are somewhat in contrast to previous work by Moore et al. showing no statistically significant differences in MPS between provision of a 20 g and 40 g dose of whey in young men following a leg extension bout, although the higher dose produced an 11% greater absolute increase . Whether differences between intakes higher than ~20 g per feeding are practically meaningful remain speculative, and likely depend on the goals of the individual.
What Is The Maximum Amount Of Protein The Body Can Process In A Single Meal
So, if 20, 30 or 40 grams isnt the supposed special cutoff point after all then what is? What is the maximum amount of protein the human body can handle in one sitting?
The answer to this question is we dont know. There really is no exact amount.
But the consensus best guess isa lot. As in like I alluded to a second ago the maximum amount of protein youd ever be capable of consuming in a single meal. Basically, youd go holy crap, I cant eat anymore long before actually reaching that unknown maximum amount.
Ive even seen others describe this limit as likely similar to the amount thats maximally effective in an entire day.
So, yeah. Unless youre planning on entering a hot dog eating contest, youre gonna be just fine.
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Does Protein Have Any Negative Health Effects
Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems.
Some people believe that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis, but science does not support these claims.
Though protein restriction is helpful for people with preexisting kidney problems, theres no evidence that protein can cause kidney damage in healthy people (
Overall, theres no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to optimize their health.
Protein does not have any negative effects on kidney function in healthy people, and studies show that it leads to improved bone health.
The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products, as they have all the essential amino acids that your body needs.
Some plants are fairly high in protein as well, such as quinoa, legumes, and nuts.
However, most people generally dont need to track their protein intake.
If youre healthy and trying to stay that way, simply eating quality protein sources with most of your meals, along with nutritious plant foods, should bring your intake to an optimal range.
What’s The Best Protein Source
This is a complicated question! Let’s start with complete proteins. A complete protein is a protein source that contains adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids, which are deemed “essential” because your body can’t make them on its own. Most animal protein sourcesâlike meat, fish, milk, eggs, and poultryâare complete. These are great protein sources because they’re highly bio-available and contain all the building blocks your body needs.
“These are great protein sources because they’re highly bio-available and contain all the building blocks your body needs.”
Beyond that, protein quality is measured in a variety of ways, including biological value, net protein utilization, and the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acids Score . The PDCAAS test is the FDA’s preferred method of determining protein quality. A PDCAAS value of 1 is the best possible score. Casein, whey, egg white, and soy protein all fall into this category, so they’re all stellar protein sources.
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Where Did This Idea Come From
Theres a general understanding that your body has an upper limit for protein absorption per meal. Depending on where you read it or who you ask, that number is in the ballpark of 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
And because theres a theoretical ceiling on protein absorption, many people see it as a good idea to space out their protein intake across 5 or more meals each day. Otherwise, ingesting, say 80 grams of protein in one sitting would result in most of it going to waste.
But, the idea that theres a limit on how much protein we can absorb is wrong. As a survival machine, the human body is very good at keeping us alive. This means that it can absorb unlimited amounts of food and make some use of that energy.
Thats why there are morbidly obese individuals who weigh upwards of 500 pounds. And this idea is also supported by research. A 2009 paper on food digestion found that:
How You Should Space Out Your Protein Intake
When you eat your protein is just as important as how much you eat. Its not about simply loading up after exercising or at one meal and skimping on it for the rest of the day. Like we mentioned, the body doesnt have a protein holding tank like it does for carbs, where it can siphon away extras for quick access when we need it.
Thats why the best way to get your protein is split up throughout the day. Eating a good amount of protein at different points in the day helps your body direct protein where its needed, when its needednot to mention, keeps you feeling satisfied and energized. So take a look at your daily amount , and see how you can break that up in your various meals throughout the day.
Spacing out protein intake is also super important for active individuals. Thats because muscle repair and growth are greater when you consume adequate protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Dr. Linsenmeyer explains. Yes, protein is vital after a workout, Yasi Ansari, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and assistant director of Performance Nutrition for UC Berkeley Athletics, has previously told SELF. But it is important for people to know that more is not necessarily better.
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Protein Helps You Feel Full Longer
One of the biggest things that impedes weight loss is hunger.
People are far less likely to stick with a nutrition or diet plan if they experience high levels of hunger.
Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients .
Several different lines of research have all pointed to the same thing: higher protein intakes tend to provide more satiety and less hunger.
For example, in one study, high protein snacks allowed people to go longer between eating and also caused them to eat less at subsequent meals .
Another study showed that including protein into a glass of water decreased hunger compared to water alone .
Depending on the source of protein, there does appear to be minor differences in the exact amount of satiety that protein provides, however these differences are minor and dont really make a meaningful impact for most people .
Currently, there is no consensus on the optimal level of daily protein intake in ones diet with regard to stay full. However, roughly 1.8 – 2.9 grams of protein per kilogram daily appears to provide substantial benefit on satiety .
How Much Of Your Muscle Mass You Damage Through Training
In one study, subjects were split into two groups: lower and higher levels of muscular development . Muscle protein synthesis was measured after either 20 or 40 grams of whey protein after a whole-body workout.
What the researchers found was that 40 grams of whey stimulated higher levels of muscle protein synthesis, likely because the subjects did whole-body workouts:
We believe the most likely explanation for the difference in response of MPS to resistance exercise and protein ingestion is the amount of muscle activated during the exercise bout.
Keep in mind that the subjects werent by any means that big. Its important for the next point.
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Getting Those Amino Acids: The Best Protein Powder For Maximum Absorption
A fast absorbing protein is a protein that can be absorbed within a few hours so the body is able to utilize it faster to aid in processes like muscle protein synthesis. So then what is the fastest absorbing protein?
Whey protein is the most popular fast absorbing protein. Its absorption rate has been estimated at roughly 10 grams per hour. At this rate, it takes just 2 hours to fully absorb a 20 gram-dose of whey. A commonly recommended protein powder dosage is 12 scoops , so if you consumed 20 grams of whey protein around the time of a workout, that means your body would be able to utilize that protein within two hours of exercising. This is an especially fast rate of absorptioncompared to other proteins.
While whey protein powder is arguably the best protein powder for maximum absorption, there is a possible downside: Whey protein contains lactose and is a by-product of cheese production, which is a problem for people who are vegan or lactose intolerant. Thankfully, there are a few fast absorbing protein options for those with dietary restrictions, including pea protein. Of those most common vegan or plant proteins , pea protein has the fastest absorption rate.
How Much Protein You Need Depends On Your Goals
Your daily protein requirement depends on whether you’re in a calorie deficit to lose fat or a calorie surplus to gain size. But the research definitely doesn’t say “more to grow, less to cut.” The opposite is true!
If you’re dieting, you need to consume more protein to minimize muscle loss, keep yourself feeling full to stave off hunger, and lose more fat. Research suggests that a range of 0.8-1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day is the most effective amount to preserve lean body mass when you’re cutting. The overall consensus for all athletes eating for maintenance or in a caloric surplus is to consume 0.5-0.9 grams of protein per pound.
Factors such as your age, how conditioned you are to strength training, and what sport and activities you participate in affect where within these daily protein ranges you need to aim. For example, aging increases protein needs and people who have done more strength training actually require less protein.
In short, no one-size protein requirement is right for everyone. And more isn’t always better. It may just beâ¦more.
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Putting It All Together
If we assume the final goal is health, you can consume a fair amount per sitting as the gut will tend to slow down absorption and feast happily on the amino acids. No study has looked at the ‘maximal’ amount that can be consumed though, as ‘health’ is hard to define accurately.
The same notion applies to building muscle and losing fat, which want amino acids floating around in the blood rather than hopping between the intestines and liver . The body will tend to slow down absorption in response to how much you eat, as the presence of amino acids can self-regulate their own digestion.
The body likes to adapt in response to stresses, and is pretty good at it. There isn’t a single number which is the answer here, as the body tends to try and preserve all amino acids. How effective it is at this is individual.
In a study done on women, consumption of more than 54g of protein in a single meal versus across four meals resulted in no differences. As these women had on average 90 lb of lean mass, it is highly plausible that more protein could be efficiently processed. The same researchers found that a single high protein meal was actually more effective in a population of elderly women.
Research done on Intermittent Fasting supports the theory that your body can cope with far more protein than most people think, with two studies showing that the consumption of an average of 80-100g of protein in 4 hours yielded no differences in lean mass
Many People Claim That The Body Can Only Absorb Certain Amounts Of Protein Per Meal Some Say More And Some Say Less Whos Right
I used to eat protein every 2 to 3 hours.
Every day. Like clockwork.
And if I missed a feeding, I swore I could feel my muscles withering away, begging for sustenance.
Why, you wonder?
Because I had read in a bodybuilding magazine that the body can only absorb about 30 to 40 grams of protein per meal.
Anything over that threshold would simply be converted into glucose and burned.
To make matters worse, I had also read that I should be eating about 300 to 400 grams of protein per day.
Well, as you can imagine, eating 40 grams of protein 8 times per day wasa struggle.
Why did I believe all this, you now wonder?
I was a bit of a muppet, I guess.
Those times have passed and I no longer live on Sesame Street.
And I want to tell you what I now know about protein absorption
You see, when it comes to absorption thresholds, there are many numbers floating around out there.
Some experts claim the same range I read about years ago. Some say its less and some say its more.
Theyre trying to say that the bodies of both NFL linebackers and horse jockeys deal with protein in more or less the same ways?
That genetics, lifestyle, and body composition dont dramatically influence protein metabolism?
This just defies common sense.
Furthermore, theyre saying that eating large amounts of protein just 2 to 3 times per day will result in protein loss and even deficiencies?
How, then, did the human species survive the hunter-gatherer days, I wonder?
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What Happens If Your Protein Intake Isnt High Enough
Your body is designed to store extra fuel in your muscles in the form of glycogen. If youre involved in high-intensity exercise, restricting calories, or not eating enough carbs and as a result dont have the resources available to produce the energy you need your body starts to break down your muscle to access that glycogen. The glycogen is broken down into its component glucose molecules and released into the bloodstream to be used as fuel.
As an athlete or bodybuilder, simply someone who cares about their health or body composition, the last thing you want is to lose muscle mass and therefore strength. So you need to make sure your amino acid pool is full enough so your body can easily access the energy it needs when it runs low and that means getting enough protein. However, consuming a large quantity of protein in one sitting may not be the answer.