“HOW MUCH PROTEIN PER DAY SHOULD I BE GETTING?”
One of the most common questions I hear from my clients is just that, they are confused about how much protein per day they should be having.
There are a lot of debates and myths surrounding protein needs for each person. The aim of this post is to give you an idea of not only how many grams of protein YOU need, but also WHY it matters and what other factors to consider.
Protein is crucial for the functioning of your body.
Forget your six-pack abs and bulging biceps for a moment. You need protein for survival. Your muscles, connective tissue, hormones all rely on protein. More specifically, they rely on the building blocks of protein, the amino acids.
Unlike fat, we can’t store amino acids in our bodies in large quantities. That is why it is so important to get it from our diet. If our body doesn’t have enough protein it will literally start cannibalizing itself (think of the breaking down your own muscles … ouch). No bueno here…
So, how much protein per day?
Well, it depends.
The amount of protein a person requires changes with age and with the level of physical activity. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) suggests a protein intake of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.36gr/lb).
So for a 170 lb male that would be whopping 61 gram protein per day!
Not much, right? Well this amount is fine you want to avoid starvation.
If you are an active individual who is pursuing body composition changes (think building more muscle, losing fat) you need MORE than the RDA suggests.
RDA was designed to establish a MINIMUM amount of protein to avoid malnutrition or starvation. If you’re reading this post you are most likely not concerned about starvation and want to rather thrive.
For an active individual, the range is somewhere between 0.6-1.2 grams/lb of bodyweight.
For our clients who are aiming to build muscle, we recommend a range of 0.7-1.1grams per lb of body weight.
For our clients who are aiming to lose fat we recommend 1-1.4 grams per lb of body weight.
One of the reasons why “fat loss focused” clients need more protein is because they are in a caloric deficit and some of the amino acids will be used as a source of energy.
Also, consuming higher protein during caloric restriction increases glucagon hormone that releases glucose from the liver and also mobilizes fat stores as source of energy. Post-workout nutrition is also key for progress and recovery.
WHY QUALITY MATTERS
Now that you know how protein do you need let’s talk about type and quality of protein.
When we are talking about quality, it is more specifically about two things:
- Digestibility – how easy is to digest and how much you absorb
- Amino Acids Profile – what types of amino acids does it contains
Not all amino acids have the same value. Some of them (essential amino acids for example) your body can’t create and has to be sourced from food.
Another term used is “complete and incomplete” proteins referring mainly to animal-sourced (complete) to a plant-based sourced (incomplete).
You can still get a complete protein, meaning containing all essential amino acids from an incomplete aka plant-based source as long you have a wide variety of sources.
The takeaway points, DO THIS NOW.
When it comes to how much protein a person needs per day, one thing is clear—there is no definite answer. The amount YOU need per day varies and depends on your current state of health, age, workout frequency, physique and fitness goals, body composition, and many more.
STEP 1: How much protein per day are you eating now?
First, figure out how much protein you’re eating now. Track all your food using any diet tracking app or measure your food and calculate your total intake of protein in grams per day. Then divided by your weight in pounds and you will get grams per pound.
STEP 2: Adjust
Compare your number (grams per pound) to the recommendations above based on your preference (are you trying to build muscle/gain weight or lose body fat).
If you’re on the lower end, increase your protein intake, if on the higher end or over, decrease it.
STEP 3: Observe
Observe how you feel, perform at the gym, how is your digestion and overall sense of being. If you’re feeling better, keep with your new intake, if not, adjust it again.
Only through the process of experimentation, assessment and observation, you will find out your ideal protein amount and what works the best for you.
If you need any help figuring out where to start, don’t hesitate and reach out to us. We are here to help.