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How Much Protein Should I Consume (Science Based Answer)

If You Need To Know Exactly How Much Protein You Need to Drop Fat, Build Muscle And Finally Get lean, You Should Read This Article

I remember the days… Chugging a metric tonne of protein shakes down my throat in the hope of those ‘gains’.

Sitting there, digesting all those ‘fitness magazines’, blasting Protein over everything they said. So like any old kid, I took it seriously, and just ate protein.

And more

And more

And more

Like 300g a day everyday. Trust me when I said I used to be full! That was with 3 protein shakes a day (coz you know, you can’t build muscle without them).

 

Never had the gains...
Never had the gains…

But then, after a while, about 10 months later I realised I wasn’t really changing shape. Muscle stayed the same, my strength stayed the same and…

I looked the same.

So I adapted my diet and training to actually get results.

And now?

I’ve dropped my protein and have made significant gains each and every year. And with that, I began to understand how much protein you actually need to build muscle and burn fat.

 

What have I learnt?

I’ve learnt you don’t need to be chugging down protein every 2-3 hours to make significant ‘gains’. You probably need less than you think if you’re a dude and more than you think if you’re a dudette.

 

Important Point: Most women are seriously undereating on protein and this article will show you why…

[bctt tweet=”Is protein really that important?” via=”no”]

So, to all of you that aren’t really seeing the hard work in the gym reflected in their progress, this article will break down why protein is an important factor when looking to drop fat and build a toned physique.

Especially when it comes to your personal goals.

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What is protein and is it really that important?

Protein is a macro nutrient essential for the body. That means, you can’t survive without it.

Protein, therefore, is a compound comprised of smaller chains of molecules, known as amino acids. The building blocks of your body.

Fitness girl - attractive young woman working out with dumbbells

And your body requires 21 of these to form proteins.

Your tissue such as muscle, skin, ligaments, tendons, hair, organs as well as hormones all require protein.

So you can already see that it’s pretty important.

Protein plays an extremely important in other roles too. These include:

  • Regulation of metabolism
  • Structure and strength of cells

In regards to the amino acids, your body can produce 12 but requires the other 9 from food. These 9 are commonly known as the ‘essential amino’s’

  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Isoleucine
  • Histidine
  • Threonine
  • Valine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Methionine
  • Tryptophan

And you probably see most people in the gym, chugging on luminous coloured drinks. Enter BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids)

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

And a lot hope that by having the BCAA’s, they’ll help prevent the breakdown of muscle within the session and may help fight off fatigue mid-set.

But again, the effects of Leucine (AKA the king of AA’s for bodybuilders) shows that anything more than 3g of it at a time doesn’t really result in an increase in work capacity nor does it prevent the breakdown of muscle anymore.

Furthermore, BCAA’s have also been shown to not really make much of an impact if you’ve already eaten that day and are in a feasted state.

Basically, if you’ve eaten recently, BCAA’s aren’t needed.

By eating protein throughout the day, and before the workout the effects of BCAA’s aren’t magnified.

However, if you hit your weights up in the morning (before food) then having BCAA’s before and during your workout has proven to be effective.

Yes, even for you – ladies.

Most people eat protein to constantly repair and grow their muscle, and that is great, as it’s their primary role.

However, they also prevent the breakdown of muscle too. Majorly important when trying to burn fat and keep your metabolism as high as possible.

With regular gym work and exercise, you can imagine your body takes a bit of battering and therefore increases the demand for protein on your body.

Protein isn’t just required for the active, though. Even if you’re not that active you should be still consuming protein. If you don’t, you’ll be losing muscle at a much faster rate.

And that’s never a good thing.

So is it just the amount you should worry about? Or shall you consider where you get your protein from?

What are the best sources of protein?

Protein, like any food, has it’s better sources, one’s which are leaner than others, ones that are absorbed by your better body than others.

>>>> And if you’ve heard that broccoli contains more protein per 100g than beef, you’re wrong. <<<<

Utterly wrong.

For starters, you have to eat a hell of a lot of broccoli to get enough protein, if that’s your thing.

And…

100g of Broccoli contains 3g of protein.

100g of Sirloin Steak contains 21g of protein.

And like I said above, some are absorbed better than others and their amino profiles differ.

Animal proteins like chicken, eggs, beef, salmon contain high quantities of amino acids which is why they’re popular with regular gym goers and those that follow a high protein diet.

Typically speaking, vegetarian options have less amounts of amino acids, and higher amount of carbs.

So choose wisely and be careful of overloading one macronutrient.

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How much can you realistically absorb?

Back in the hunter gatherer days, when we’d cycle between feasting and fasting (basically when we couldn’t hunt anything for days) did we process meat the same as today?

Research apparently tells us we can’t process more than 40g in one sitting right? Or around that figure if you listen to different people.

But is there really a ceiling?

I used to think so, so back in the day I got through about 7 different meals a day, just to hit my 280g of protein. You know, coz otherwise I wouldn’t gain as much muscle and I’d be wasting it.

Less gains I thought…

But then I read about people eating one meal a day and I was just plain confused…

And it got me thinking, would a 50kg bikini model absorb protein the same as a 120kg rugby player?

They’re different people, with different requirements, backgrounds, weight and sex.

So the bottom line is, don’t worry about the amount of protein you have per meal, or the meal timing and frequency, instead focus on your situation, your lifestyle and the time you have in a day to eat.

The ceiling of protein absorption is pretty high, and therefore you don’t need to worry just yet.

Especially when you’re just starting out.

What happens to your body when you absorb protein?

When we absorb protein it get’s broken down into amino acids by enzymes in the stomach. Whey protein is absorbed (broken down) quicker than say, beef.

From there, the amino acids get shuttled into the small intestine and into the blood stream through certain cells found in the small intestine.

However, we don’t have an endless supply of these cells and therefore, we can only absorb a certain amount per hour.

That’s limited by the protein absorption rates

  1. How long it takes for protein to be broken down into amino acids
  2. How long it takes for the amino acids to be transported from the small intestine into the blood stream.

For instance, whey protein is absorbed quicker than beef.

With that, you’d think that once you’ve hit your maximum protein intake for one meal (20g-40g)  you wouldn’t be able to synthesise any more protein?

And that would therefore correlate to the absorption rates.

If your body can’t synthesise any more protein by having more of it, then the rest of it is just wasted, right?

No.

It’s not just about the elevation in protein synthesis but also how long it remains elevated for.

How much should I eat to lose weight?

Let’s be clear, it’s not weight you really want to lose. I’m sure you don’t want to lose muscle.

You want to lose fat – appear slimmer.

 

online coaching
Naomi stayed the same weight but her body changed by consuming more protein and training with weights

And for that, having a high protein diet has been proven to be very effective. It keeps you satiated for a longer period of time and also studies have shown your recovery increases as your stress levels decrease compared to a lower protein diet.

When you’re looking to lose fat, always opt for a little higher protein because not only does protein help build and repair muscles etc, but it helps prevent the breakdown of muscle.

And when you’re in a caloric deficit, muscle loss may happen naturally.

IF your protein isn’t high.

Research has show roughly 2g per kg of bodyweight up to 3.4g per kg of bodyweight to be optimal.

For the average woman looking to drop a few lbs, start at the bottom.

Shoot for around 2g per kg of bodyweight and build from there.

To be honest, you’ll probably find 2g a struggle to start with if you’re not used to eating a lot of protein.

So start lower and each week build from there. Perhaps if you’re having less than 50g a day at the moment but realise you need around 150g then add in 20g today and slowly build from there.

Understood?

How much should I eat to gain weight?

Not that I get this that often but it’s a relevant point. Ladies you can skip this point…

Research has shown that eating anywhere between 0.6g to 0.8g of protein per pound of bodyweight is normal for maximising protein synthesis.

Research has shown that eating anywhere between 0.6g to 0.8g of protein per pound of bodyweight is normal for maximising protein synthesis.

We know though that by working out, it increases our bodies demand for protein.

But there’s other research out which shows that your protein requirements may be slightly higher IF you’re doing frequent or intense exercise.

This does vary though, depending on your training history, your type of training (intensity) and energy balance.

For years, it’s been an unwritten rule to roughly have around 1g per lb of body weight (2.2g per kg of bodyweight). When you chat to most serious gym goers and ask how much protein they consume, it’ll roughly be around the ratio above.

With everything though, you’ll get those stuck in their ways eating hundreds of grams a day for those gains (where I was a few years ago!)

(where I was a few years ago!)

Personally, when I’m in a ‘bulking’ phase and when I’m creating programs, I opt for 2g per kg of bodyweight. That seems to work well.

That seems to work well.

This number might slightly increase when on a deficit as outlined above…

When you’re in a weight gain (bulk) phase, carbohydrates can be increased here and will be where you get most of your calories from.

What’s the best protein I should eat to lose weight?

Protein comes in different forms and to be precise, it doesn’t really matter what protein you consume.

Nowadays we have weight loss pills, protein bars and powders and a whole host of other supplements designed to help you ‘lose weight’.

Most are a waste of time.

Supplements, are, of course, by definition, there to supplement a diet. A diet already full of nutritious and flavoursome foods.

However, there are some types of foods that are more conducive to weight loss.

The list below contains proteins that are fairly lean, but keep you satiated, are packed full of protein and nutrients and therefore, may make it ‘easier’ to stay within your deficit.

You can opt for the more lean meats, such as

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Haddock
  • Cod
  • Sea Bass
  • Eggs
  • Tuna

The above are protein sources that help fill you up without adding a tonne of calories to your day. By having these, you’re not wasting calories on foods that leave you feeling hungry and do little in adding to your vitamin intake.

If you’re having meats like duck and lamb, they pack on calories, and will, again, leave you feeling a little hungry later on. Therefore, limit them when you’re looking to drop fat.

Save those extra calories for other foods, or perhaps another meal.

However, if you don’t mind being a little hungry and having a higher calorie meal at some point during the day, by all means go ahead.

At the end of the day, as you know, it comes down to energy balance.

If by consuming protein you remain in a deficit, that really is all you need to worry about.

Is protein powder any good?

protein powder. Supplements for bodybuilders

Generally, when looking at protein powders you need look to the ones with minimal carbs and fats. Sole reason because you shouldn’t be in the mindset of drinking your calories.

It just doesn’t fill you up like foods do.

And I know when I’m on a diet, I like to be full as often as I can.

Otherwise I just get hungry and my gf? She hates me for a long time. Very long time.

And when you’re on a diet, drinking stuff like poor quality protein powders, fizzy drinks and juices make it more likely you’ll over eat.

You can get through a few hundred calories but be hungry straight after.

Not a good idea if you’re wanting to lose weight.

Having said that, after a workout if you’re in need protein and you have limited time, then a protein shake may be a good thing.

It’s quick, it’s lean (100 calories or so) and can help you ingest protein quickly after a workout, if that’s your thing?

Especially important if you haven’t prepared any food over the next few hours.

A great example would be after working out in the morning and you’re rushed before heading to work. A qucik 30 second shake of your bottle and there you go. Meal prep is done.

 

So how much protein should you eat?

So, hopefully this article has given you an insight into not only how much protein you need but also why it’s important in your everyday life. Regardless of whether you’re training or not.

Whey protein isn’t necessary, just rather convenient. Protein isn’t necessary post workout, just hitting your protein requirements over the course of the day is. But, grabbing a quick protein shake or having some chicken post workout is quick and easy so why wouldn’t you do it?

Overall.

Stick to good quality protein sources, keep hitting your protein goals and you won’t really go far wrong.

If you’re still not sure on how much protein you should be having, leave a comment and I’ll help you out 🙂

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