Now, let’s talk about protein. The reason I want to write this article on protein is just because I haven’t really talked about it much and I find that even though there are plenty of articles or videos on the topic of protein, if something is not put out recently, it loses its momentum. What I’m going to do is just give you my opinion and what I have learned about protein over the years because I still get a lot of questions about protein and I understand that there’s constantly new people, new information. This is just my post on the topic of protein.
How Much Protein Do you need?
Let’s talk about the most commonly asked question. How much protein do you need? How much protein do you need to build muscle? The answer’s going to be a little bit surprising.
Alot of people suggest more than a gram per pound, which is most commonly accepted. But muscle building studies have done research on as low as 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight.
Now, for those that aren’t real good with math, if you’re a 200-pound person, that would be 160 grams of protein per day. That’s pretty low for someone who weighs 200 pounds and works out. That would be considered low protein. For the typical general population, my dad, your mom, that’s a lot of protein, right, so 0.8 grams would probably be a huge increase from what they’re currently doing, but for those of us that are involved in bodybuilding fitness, 0.8 can be pretty low.
They did the 0.8 grams for an entire quarter and found that the test group gained lean body mass taking in 0.8 grams. What does that mean? That means that you probably can build muscle taking in 0.8 grams per gram of body weight, which is below a gram per pound of what you weigh. That’s fine, but let’s talk about why that might be possible and how I like to do things.
Muscle Protein Synthesis
So 0.8 grams, now if you’re a 200-pound person and you’re going to take in the protein three or four times a day, that means your doses of protein are going to be more than 40 grams per session. Why is that important? What we’ve learned about losing is that it stimulates muscle protein synthesis. We need to get a minimum amount of protein to reach our losing threshold. Now that can change depending on sources. I’m not going to go into that now, but just understand that you need to get a large dose of protein. Usually with a quality source, that’s going to be between 25 and 30 grams minimum to induce muscle protein synthesis, right. This is the process of actually synthesizing protein and building muscle.
When the study was done, I can assure you they weren’t eating 10 grams of protein every hour. No, they were getting 40 grams of protein probably multiple times per day so they were still getting the benefits of muscle protein synthesis, their carbohydrates and fats were in the proper range and they were doing resistance training with weights.
Now, why do I recommend more protein than this? What I typically like to do with protein is have someone eat around 1.1, maybe 1.2 grams per pound of weight, unless we’re talking about someone who’s BMI is over 30. Someone who is a little bit heavier set, then I’ll focus more on lean body mass, right. Let’s say someone is 300 pounds, am I going to have them have 350 grams of protein? Probably not unless they tell me they absolutely love protein and they want to eat more of it. No, I’ll typically have that person probably under 300 grams, maybe around 260, 270, something like that. Again, the goal here is that we’re getting multiple doses of protein per day, three, four, maybe five times per day, we’re getting a large dose of protein.
How Much Can Your Body Digest?
Which leads me to probably the second most common question when it comes to protein and that is how much protein can your body digest? I know you hear a lot of things that, “Oh, well, if you eat more than X amount of protein,” let’s say 30 grams, 40 grams, “it’s wasted.” Your body does not use it. That is incorrect. The correct question is what is the most amount of protein you need that is beneficial, right? That’s what we discussed earlier. We’re talking about probably around a gram per pound, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, but in that range and then, you want to space large doses of protein out every three, four, five, six hours. Space them apart, right, so you get these spikes in muscle protein synthesis.
Now, what happens if you say you eat 100 grams of protein in a single meal? You’re definitely going to get your spike to your muscle protein synthesis and you’re also going to digest that much slower. Protein is very satiating. Protein as the macro nutrient burns the most calories while it’s being digested. It has the highest thermic effect, but it doesn’t mean it’s wasted. It doesn’t mean you get diarrhea if you eat 100 grams of protein. No. What it means is your body just slows down the digestion so it can break down those amino acids, you can get them into your bloodstream, and protein can be stored as body fat as well. They are in fact calories that can be stored as body fat. It’s not that protein is going to get wasted. It’s just it’s going to get used differently and it’s not maximized.
Now as a coach, what I would prefer is that someone takes in carbohydrates to promote building muscle because carbohydrates are also muscle sparing so instead of someone being on a huge amount of protein, which is very common, I’ve seen people as high as twice their body weight in protein, I would rather put their protein in the proper range, take those extra calories that they’re getting, and use them as carbohydrates. That’s where I believe protein needs are met.
There are some other circumstances like what happens when we get really lean. I like to bring protein up a little bit higher when you get really lean because as I mentioned, protein is very satiating. When your calories are very low, I find that some people start to crave protein and if you can remain more consistent on your diet because your protein is a little higher and you feel a little fuller, you’re not going to be putting on body fat anyway because we’re still in a caloric deficit. That’s where I look at doing some things like that.
Hopefully, this answered some questions, but if it just created more questions, comment below or message me and we can discuss them going forward. That’s my thoughts on protein and where you should be. I can’t give you an exact number, what you should be eating, but let’s just use the 200-pound male who is let’s say 12 to 14% body fat, pretty typical. I would have that person probably on 240 grams, 230, 240, 250 grams of protein per day based on what their metabolism is like. Someone who has a very good metabolism, their protein might actually be higher because their calories are so high. I don’t just raise carbs and fats. I like to get the protein in the same ratios still. There may be a little bit more protein involved there for someone who has a very, very good metabolism.
Anyways, it’s all about the individual, but yeah, I’m going to be right around that 1.1, 1.2 is going to be my sweet spot for the average typical person. Unfortunately, not everyone is average or typical so I can’t give you recommendations for you, but if you message me and say, “Hey, Stefan, I’m 5’1″. I’m 30% body fat and I weigh 200 pounds. How much protein should I be taking?” And I can give you my estimate on what I think you should be taking in.
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