How much Protein do you need?

How much Protein do you need?

Are you getting enough protein? Probably not.

Obtaining adequate protein in the diet is essential for athletes and non-athletes alike. For non-athletes, dietary protein is required for the myriad of health functions. For active exercisers and athletes, additional protein intake is required for the repair and recovery of muscle tissue, as well. Depending on the goals of the active individual, they may need more protein in their diet than the average sedentary person.

Calculate your own daily protein needs according to the RDA of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. To do this, simply multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8 to get your total recommended amount of protein for 1 day. If you typically weight yourself in pounds, divide that scale weight by 2.2 to convert it to kilograms first. This formula varies greatly based on your activity levels.

Grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight table based on activity levels

None

N/A

0.8 to 1.2

Light to Moderate

Cardiovascular

Resistance

1.2 to 1.6

1.5 to 2.0

Moderate to Vigerous

Cardiovascular

Resistance

1.5 to 2.0

1.7 to 2.2

 

So a 180 pound moderately active man doing cardio training, should be consuming 122g of protein a day.

Recent developments in the methods used to determine protein needs suggest that recommendations have been underestimated by about 30 to 50% (Bandegan, Courtney-Martin, Rafii, Pencharz, & Lemon, 2017; Elango, Humayun, Ball, & Pencharz, 2010; Kato, Suzuki, Bannai, & Moore, 2016; Pencharz, Elango, & Wolfe, 2016).

Individuals who are seeking weight loss often lose muscle mass and fat mass concurrently and in relatively equal proportions, with typical calorie restricted diets. Maintaining as much muscle mass as possible while dieting can be achieved with greater protein intake (at least 1.8 to 2.2 grams per kilogram) and regular resistance training. Several research studies have verified that simultaneous loss of fat and maintenance of lean body mass is possible (Demling & DeSanti, 2000; Josse, Atkinson, Tarnopolsky, & Phillips, 2011). This requires careful consideration of calorie and protein intake and alignment with a well-designed resistance training program. Those beginning a fat-loss program with a more athletic and muscular physique may be able to lose fat mass with more normal caloric intakes.

Incorporating high-protein snacks, whether they are advertised as such or not, may be an effective strategy as part weight loss and muscle gain plans. Do not be fooled, though; calories are the most important factor in weight loss, gain, and maintenance. Having a snack such as a low-carb, low-fat protein bar can certainly help with weight loss by curbing appetite between meals. 

Moreover, research on the effects of very high protein intake (3.0 to 4.4 grams per kilogram) on body composition indicate that individuals overeating protein will not experience an increase in body fat mass over time (Antonio et al., 2015; Antonio et al., 2014; Claesson et al., 2009). Therefore, it is typically more prudent to make general recommendations of consuming more protein than to recommend less protein within the specified ranges, particularly when the client desires to increase lean muscle mass or maintain muscle mass while decreasing fat mass.