Spread Out Your Intake
“At any given moment, even at rest, your body is breaking down and building protein,” says Jeffrey Volek, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition and exercise researcher at the University of Connecticut. Every time you eat at least 30 grams of protein, Layman says, you trigger a burst of protein synthesis that lasts about 3 hours.
But think about it: When do you eat most of your protein? At dinner, right? That means you could be fueling muscle growth for only a few hours a day, and breaking down muscle the rest of the time, Layman says. Instead, you should spread out your protein intake.
Your body can process only so much protein in a single sitting. A recent study from the University of Texas found that consuming 90 grams of protein at one meal provides the same benefit as eating 30 grams. It’s like a gas tank, says study author Douglas Paddon-Jones, Ph.D.: “There’s only so much you can put in to maximize performance the rest is spillover.”
Eating protein at all three mealsplus snacking two or three times a day on proteins such as cheese, jerky, and milkwill help you eat less overall. People who start the day with a protein-rich breakfast consume 200 fewer calories a day than those who chow down on a carb-heavy breakfast, like a jam-smeared bagel. Ending the day with a steak dinner doesn’t have the same appetite-quenching effect, Layman says.
Breaking The Golden Rule Of Nutrition: Why Im Eating Just 05g Of Protein Per Lb Bodyweight
In the startup/business world, theres a term called MVP which stands for minimum viable product.
Basically, its when you launch product with the minimum amount of features to satisfy a customer.
For the past year, Ive been toying around more with my own version of MVP.
Except I call my MVP, Minimum Viable Protein.
Clever, I know.
Hear me out.
Ive been on a quest to see just how little protein I could get without impacting my physical/mental health.
Does Incomplete Protein Count Towards Your Daily Total
Back in the day, proteins used to be classed as either complete or incomplete.
A complete protein is a food that supplies all eight essential amino acids in sufficient amounts to maintain tissue and support growth. With few exceptions, single foods containing complete proteins come from animal sources such as milk, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
An incomplete protein usually found in plant sources such as grains and vegetables is low in one or more of the essential amino acids.
The term complete protein is something of a misnomer. Thats because almost every source of dietary protein contains all of the essential amino acids. Some foods are just lower in certain amino acids than others.
From The Protein Book by Lyle McDonald:
Rather than thinking in terms of complete or incomplete, it then becomes more valuable to talk about dietary proteins in terms of having a limiting amino acid.
This is defined as the amino acid that is found in the lowest proportion to what is required by the body. The amount of this limiting amino acid will determine, to a great degree, how well that protein is used by the body.
A common example is that grains are low in the amino acid lysine but high in methionine while beans are low in methionine and high in lysine. So the limiting amino acid in grains is found in ample supply in legumes and vice versa.
But thats not entirely true.
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So Whats The Takeaway Here Should You Go Lower Protein
If you think Im some weak fuck for cutting my protein, fine.
Im not telling you to dramatically cut your protein intake.
Your life, your rules.
Im just saying, if youre sick and tired of all this protein talk and can live with being slightly less muscular, try cutting back to the 0.6 gram range.
But make sure to keep everything else the same your workouts, training intensity, sleep, fruit/veggie intake, any vital non-protein supplements, water intake, etc
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Do it for 30 days and have an open mind about it.
If you really cant live with yourself after the 30 days because your arms shrunk by 1/4 of an inch and you lost all sense of self-worth, then you could always bump back up your protein.
But I think youll be pleasantly surprised by how little youll actually lose and how much youll gain.
Working Out The Numbers
To determine how much protein you need based on lean mass, you first need to work out your lean body weight, or fat-free mass. The formula involves subtracting your body fat weight from your total body weight. To find your body fat, either have a trained professional measure you with skin fold callipers, or use a handheld body fat measurement machine. This will give you a body fat percentage reading, and from there you can work out your levels of lean weight. If you weigh 180 pounds, for instance, and your body fat is 20 percent, you have 36 pounds of fat. Subtract this from 180, and your lean weight is 144 pounds.
Consuming Too Little Protein
Consuming too little protein is just as bad as consuming too much over long periods of time. People who consume too little protein may simply be adhering to vegan, vegetarian or other diets that feature many plant-based foods. Regardless of the diet you choose to follow, a balanced diet should typically have about 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates, 12 to 20 percent protein and 30 percent fat. Using these ratios as a guideline, you can adjust your protein consumption to whatever is best for you.
You should be aware that a protein intake of less than 5 percent, can cause loss of muscle mass and is considered to be too little to sustain good health. Even low-fat, low-protein, high-carbohydrate diets involve consuming a minimum of this much protein.
If you want to make sure that you’re getting the right amount of protein each day, you can use the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Reference Intakes Calculator. This tool will not only show you how much protein to eat, but the amounts of all the nutrients you should consume to maintain good overall health. These days, many different apps are also available to help you determine the amount of protein that’s suitable for you, regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle or just stay healthy.
Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Healthy Sedentary Adults
For adults, the US Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 g/kg. However, a more appropriate statistical analysis of the data used to establish the RDA suggests this number should be higher: 1.0 g/kg.
Note that, contrary to popular belief, the RDA doesnt represent an ideal intake. Instead, it represents the minimum intake needed to prevent malnutrition. Unfortunately, the RDA for protein was determined from nitrogen balance studies, which require that people eat experimental diets for weeks before measurements are taken. This provides ample time for the body to adapt to low protein intakes by down-regulating processes that are not necessary for survival but are necessary for optimal health, such as protein turnover and immune function.
An alternative method for determining protein requirements, called the Indicator Amino Acid Oxidation technique, overcomes many of the shortcomings of nitrogen balance studies. Notably, it allows for the assessment of protein requirements within 24 hours, thereby not leaving the body enough time to adapt. Studies using the IAAO method have suggested that about 1.2 g/kg is a more appropriate RDA for healthy young men, older men, and older women.
Further evidence that the current RDA for protein is not sufficient comes from a randomized controlled trial that confined healthy, sedentary adults to a metabolic ward for eight weeks. The participants were randomized into three groups:
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How We Calculated Your Protein Intake
Theres a difference between avoiding a nutrient deficiency and eating the optimal amount of a nutrient.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administrations daily value for protein is 50 grams, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, which is 10 percent of your total calories. A protein deficiency can cause muscle wasting and a greater risk of bone fractures, among other issues.
But if you want to maximize the amount of muscle you can build and minimize the amount of fat youll gain? Or if youre eating in a calorie deficit, if you want to maximize muscle retention and fat loss, then just about every expert and non-expert will recommend anywhere from 0.5 to 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Heres what the data says on setting your own intake.
Other Circumstances That Can Increase Protein Needs
Regardless of muscle mass and physique goals, those who are physically active need more protein than those who are sedentary.
If your job is physically demanding or you walk a lot, run, swim, or do any sort of exercise, you need to eat more protein.
Endurance athletes also need significant amounts of protein about 0.50.65 grams per pound of body weight (
This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia, both of which are significant problems among older adults.
People recovering from injuries may likewise need more protein .
People who are physically active, as well as older adults and those recovering from injuries, have significantly increased protein requirements.
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Whey Protein Dosage For Weight Loss
Want to burn an extra 80-100 calories per day and curb your appetite? Look no further than whey protein! Not only can it boost your metabolism, but it also curbs cravings, which reduces the urge to snack and overeat – all resulting in fat loss. The good news is, you dont need to consume large amounts of whey protein to reap the fat-burning benefits of this supplement.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is a minimum of 0.4-0.6 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. Do note, that’s the bare minimum amount you need to meet your basic nutritional needs and avoid deficiency. To really reap the benefits for weight loss, it’s best to get around 30% of your daily calories from protein.
In case you’re wondering, one scoop of our Organic Whey Protein contains 20 grams of clean protein. With this in mind, heres our general recommendation on how much whey protein to take per day for fat loss:
- MODERATE ACTIVITY : 10-20 grams of protein should do the trick to curb cravings and boost your metabolism.
- HIGH ACTIVITY : 20-40 grams of protein will keep hunger cravings at bay and promote a healthy metabolism.
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How To Calculate Protein Intake For Muscle Growth
To calculate the amount of protein you need to maximize muscle growth, multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 0.7. If you prefer metric, multiply your bodyweight in kilograms by 1.6.
|230 lb||167 grams|
It is worth pointing out that the researchers dont rule out the possibility that a higher protein intake may be beneficial.
Given that the confidence interval of this estimate spanned from 1.03 to 2.20, it may be prudent to recommend approximately 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day for those seeking to maximise resistance training-induced gains in fat-free mass.
In other words, they think that the muscle-building benefits of protein plateau at around 0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight per day.
But, they acknowledge that there may be a small benefit to eating more around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight per day, or 2.2 grams per kilogram.
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Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Pregnant Women
The protein RDA for pregnant women is 1.1 g/kg. This value was estimated by adding three values:
The RDA for a healthy adult
The amount of additional body protein a pregnant woman accumulates
The amount of protein used by the developing fetus
However, as we saw previously with non-pregnant healthy adults, the RDA may not be sufficient, let alone optimal. Theres some IAAO evidence that the RDA for pregnant women should be about 1.66 g/kg during early gestation and 1.77 g/kg during late gestation . Moreover, a meta-analysis of 16 intervention studies reported that protein supplementation during pregnancy led to reduced risks for the baby:
34% lower risk of low gestational weight
32% lower risk of low birth weight
38% lower risk of stillbirth
This effect was more pronounced in undernourished women than in adequately nourished women. Importantly, these values were determined from sedentary women carrying one child, meaning that pregnant women who engage in regular physical activity or are supporting the growth of more than one child may need even higher amounts.
Also, keep in mind that we can only tell you what the studies reported we cant possibly know about your health and your pregnancy specifically. Please be sure to consult with your obstetrician/gynecologist before making any changes.
Excess Consumption Of Protein
It’s perfectly acceptable to increase the amount of protein you eat, but there are, of course, limits to the amount you should consume. According to the Harvard Medical School, eating 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or more could be bad for your health. Some of the negatives that can occur when consuming too much protein include:
- High cholesterol, often associated with the consumption of too much saturated fat, which is found in animal products and other foods like coconuts
- Gastrointestinal system issues, including diarrhea and constipation
- Kidney problems, including kidney stones and kidney disease
- Increased risk of age-related diseases, including heart disease and cancer
- Weight gain
Consuming large amounts of protein over a short period of time likely won’t affect you in these ways. However, long-term consumption of a high-protein diet may negatively affect your health.
If you choose to consume a substantial amount of protein each day, it’s important to make sure that you still eat a balanced diet. In this case, that would mean choosing different types of protein, like fatty fish, eggs and plant-based proteins, as well as animal products. Consuming a variety of proteins will help increase the amount of nutrients in your diet, reduce the amount of saturated fat you’re consuming and be better for your overall health.
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What Should You Do
Research on how much protein is the optimal amount to eat for good health is ongoing, and is far from settled. The value of high-protein diets for weight loss or cardiovascular health, for example, remains controversial.
Before you start ramping up your daily protein intake, there are a few important things to consider. For one, dont read “get more protein” as “eat more meat.” Beef, poultry, and pork can certainly provide high-quality protein, but so can many plant foods including whole grains, beans and other legumes, nuts, and vegetables. The table below provides some healthier sources of protein.
Its also important to consider the protein “package” the fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that invariably come along with protein. Aim for protein sources low in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates and rich in many nutrients.
One more thing: If you increase protein, dietary arithmetic demands that you eat less of other things to keep your daily calorie intake steady. The switches you make can affect your nutrition, for better or for worse. For example, eating more protein instead of low-quality refined carbohydrates, like white bread and sweets, is a healthy choice though how healthy the choice is also depends on the total protein package.
Whey Protein Dosage For Building Muscle
Whey protein is jam-packed with all 9 essential amino acids, which are key players in your body’s ability to build and repair muscle. Additionally, the body absorbs whey faster than any other protein, which leads to increased muscle protein synthesis .
To reach your goals, research suggests combining HIIT or strength training with whey protein supplementation. And to maximize results, be sure to check out our recommendations for the best time to take whey protein.
Heres our recommendation on how much whey protein to take for muscle gain:
- MODERATE ACTIVITY : 20-25 grams of whey post-workout should give you that protein boost you need to build lean muscle.
- HIGH ACTIVITY : If youre an athlete you may need up to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That’s a lot of protein, so to help you reach your protein goals and maximize your muscle gain and repair, we recommend taking 24-48 grams of whey post-workout.
For a quick and easy post-workout protein shake, try our Low-Carb Vanilla Protein Shake! It takes just 30 seconds to make, making it a breeze to get your protein fix in that crucial post-workout nutrition window.
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But What About When Cutting
A final objection that is often heard is that these values may be true during bulking or maintenance periods, but cutting requires more protein to maintain muscle mass. Walberg et al. studied cutting weightlifters and they still found 0.73g/lb was sufficient to maintain lean body mass.
A perhaps even more telling study is by Pikosky et al. in 2008. The researchers took a group of endurance trained subjects and had them consume either 0.41 or 0.82g/lb of protein per day. They also added a thousand calories worth of training on top of their regular exercise. So these guys were literally running on a 1000 calorie deficit while drastically increasing their training volume. Talk about a catabolic state Of course the nitrogen balance in the low protein group plummeted. However, the protein intake of 0.82g/lb in the other group completely protected the subjects from muscle loss. Nitrogen balance, whole-body protein turnover and protein synthesis remained unchanged.
A further review of the literature on the optimal protein intake in a deficit can be found in this article of the research on protein by Eric Helms.
As such, there is simply no empirically substantiated reason to think we need more than 0.82g/lb of protein per day when cutting. If anything, you could reason the body should be able to use more protein during bulking periods, because more muscle is being built and a lot of other nutrients are ingested that may enable more protein to be used.