How Does It Affect My Body
Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids that are absolutely essential for a number of reasons, notes Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD, and Founder of Nutrition by Carrie. Not only are our organs, muscles and other tissueslike skin, nails, and hairbuilt from amino acids, but so are our hormones, the enzymes that facilitate the zillions of chemical reactions in our cells that keep us alive, and the antibodies that help us ward off infections.
So, its no surprise that the U.S. National Library of Medicine refers to protein as the building blocks of life. Not only does protein build and repair tissue and prevent us from getting infected, it also regulates metabolism, boosts energy levels, and aids in weight loss or maintenance. Most notably, it plays a hefty role in building, maintaining, and regenerating muscle.
Protein is key in building muscle after a tough cardio or strength training workoutlike the ones available on Aaptiv.
How Did We Calculate Your Protein Intake
Bodybuilding.com’s protein calculator starts with the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, which is considered by our nutritionists and dieticians to be the “gold standard” of calorie calculators. Here’s how it works:
Calculate basal metabolic rate , or the calories your body burns simply by being alive. For men: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age + 5 For women: 10 x weight + 6.25 x height â 5 x age -161
Then, this BMR count is multiplied, depending on your activity level:
Sedentary = 1.2
Optimal Protein Intake Guide
Your optimal daily protein intake depends on your weight, goal, and level of physical activity: from 1.21.8 g/kg if youre sedentary all the way up to 3.3 g/kg if youre trying to minimize fat gain during a bulk. You can quickly and easily calculate your optimal daily intake with our protein intake calculator.
Quickly and easily calculate your optimal daily intake with our protein intake calculator.
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How To Meet Your Protein Requirements
The best way to get a full range of amino acids is to eat real food . But this isnt always practical, and obviously, some people choose not to eat any animal protein at all.
There are lots of fun and tasty ways to keep on top of your protein intake whatever type of diet you follow, and however busy you get!
Protein Shakes: choose your favourite protein powder and make a simple shake with water, or whizz into smoothies, or stir into porridge oats.
Breakfast Smoothie: Try a breakfast smoothie its really quick and easy to get a protein-packed breakfast going.
Protein Flapjacks: grab Protein Flapjacks for a protein snack on the go.
Protein Bars: so many to choose from, including delicious Protein Cookies, and Protein Bars.
Jerky: jerky is a traditional savoury protein snack which is ideal for keeping in your bag, with options such as Fish Jerky, Beef Jerky, and Biltong.
Liquid Egg Whites: Bottles of liquid egg whites make it so easy to add extra protein to your meals, or to whip up an egg-white omelette.
One final thing to remember: almost all food contains some protein, so take that into account when youre calculating your protein intake. Oats, potatoes, rice, even fruit and vegetables all contain small amounts of protein, and it all adds up.
This research was conducted by our friends over at bulk.com who believe that sport, health, fitness and nutrition are for everyone no matter who you are, what you do, or how you do it.
Not Enough Protein There May Be Bigger Problems
On the whole, those not getting enough protein often have a low-quality diet in the first place, Kapur says. This raises another issue: Who has access to quality food to begin with? People tend to chalk up healthy eating to education alone if you know better, you do better. But when I see patients, I hear eye-opening stories about challenges and struggles they have, Kapur says.
Low-income areas often have more expensive but lower-quality foods available in nearby supermarkets, and those same stores might be too far away to get to, especially if most locals dont have cars. A study in Detroit, for example, showed that grocery stores were on average about a mile further away from majority Black impoverished neighborhoods than they were from mostly white low-income areas. In some cases, running up againstbarriers to a better diet can frustrate people even more, Kapur says. Knowing what works for you but not being able to make it happen can be demoralizing.
In the past five to ten years, however, Kapur has seen more insurance companies cover visits to dietitians. That’s helpful for those with those plans. But overall, “access is huge part of health care,” Kapur says. “I would love for everyone to have that.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct an error. Adults over 65 should eat 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for pregnant mothers, the recommendation is 1.1 grams per kilogram.
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Unless Youre Going Really Hard On Protein You Probably Dont Have To Worry
The potential negative side effects of protein likely only happen if youre eating too much protein regularly and for an extended period of time. Going over the recommended daily amount every once in a while isnt something to worry about.
If youre eating a balance of protein, carbs, and fat at every meal, youre likely getting the protein that you need.
How Much Protein Do I Need Daily
To put it simply, the recommended daily amount for the average adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram . This puts us around 46 grams a day for the average woman and 56 grams a day the average man. If youre highly active, recovering from an injury, or looking to build muscle, bump this number up to around 1.2-1.8 grams per kilogram .
Beyond fitness goals, its critical we consume at least the daily recommended amount of protein per day. This is because our bodies are constantly losing it. We lose protein every day as we shed skin cells and hair, eliminate bodily wastes, and break down muscle, Dennett mentions. We need to replace that protein. Our body is able to manufacture some amino acids on its own, but there are others that we have to get from food because we cant make them. For optimal intake, spread your protein throughout the dayyour body can only use so much at a time.
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Digging Deeper: After Better Than Before
Is it better to eat before or after exercising?
In a 2020 crossover trial we first summarized for Examine Members, 8 healthy young men were divided into three groups.
All three groups performed a full-body strength workout in the morning. One group ate a meal 1.5 hours before, another just after, and the last waited for lunchtime.
This happened three times, with three days in between. Each time, the men switched to a different group. Thus, at the end of the trial, they had all tried all three meal times.
Blood insulin and certain modified amino acids were measured as indicators of muscle breakdown. The results? Eating a mixed-nutrient meal immediately after resistance training, rather than 1.5 hours before or not until lunchtime, resulted in the greatest suppression of muscle protein breakdown.
Whether or not this correlates with improvements in muscle growth and recovery, however, is unclear.
Optimal Daily Protein Intake For Toddlers
The same data used to establish the RDA for infants aged 712 months was used to determine the RDA for toddlers aged 13 years . The average daily protein intake of US toddlers is 4.0 g/kg, with 90% of US toddlers consuming over 3.0 g/kg.
There is a dearth of data for this age group. However, in toddlers aged 2 years with a total daily protein intake of 4.0 g/kg, complementary protein from meat led to better growth than the same amount of complementary protein from dairy.
There is little research on what is optimal, but the average daily protein intake of US toddlers is 4 g/kg nearly four times the RDA. Meat appears to be a better complementary food than milk.
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Is Too Much Protein Bad
Well, by its very definition, too much of anything is too much. The research that has been done tends to focus on amounts commonly consumed in diets and or supplements that consist of 40% of your overall calorie intake .
This is normally discussed in terms of kidney function do you damage your kidneys with a diet that is too high in protein? Well, this has been thoroughly studied, and we need to begin by differentiating between those that have kidney damage and those that do not.
If you have kidney damage, there is a lot of debate about whether a high-protein diet makes that damage worse. When you consume more protein, your kidneys are being asked to filter more protein, which means that they may be working harder.
The evidence is pretty clear, though, that this would not cause someone to get kidney damage. There is no evidence or plausible mechanism by which increased filtration leads to kidney disease in otherwise healthy people6.
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.
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How Much Protein Is Too Much This Is How Much You Really Need
It’s possible to overdo it.
No doubt, protein is a good thing. Its the building block of our muscles, bones, and other tissues, and getting enough of the nutrient essential for health.
Word seems to have gotten around about the many benefits of protein. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of Americans consider protein to be an important part of their diet for overall health, and over half intentionally seek out high-protein foods.
Although its certainly possible to get enough protein from food sources like meat, fish, eggs, and soy, many people choose to add more protein throughout the day with supplements like protein shakes and bars. The U.S. market for protein supplements was around $8.4 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow about eight percent every year, according to Grand View Research.
But is it possible to get too much of a good thing? The answer, of course, is yes. Too much of anything can be harmfuleven drinking too much water can be fatal .
Whether youre loading up on protein as part of a strength-building routine, a low-carb diet , or just because you really love beef and want to eat it at every meal, its important that you dont overdo it.
Heres what to know about how much protein is too much, and what you should keep in mind when youre upping your intake.
Protein: Is More Better
For a relatively active adult, a daily protein intake to meet the RDA would supply as little as 10% of his or her total daily calories. In comparison, the average American consumes around 16% of his or her daily calories in the form of protein, from both plant and animal sources. But is that too much?
For some people, there may be potential benefits of higher daily protein intake to preserve muscle mass and strength. How and when you consume protein might also influence its effectiveness. Some studies described in the summit reports suggest that protein is more effective if you space it out over the days meals and snacks, rather than loading up at dinner like many Americans do.
However, over the last several years, the public health message has shifted away from desired percentages of protein, fats and carbohydrates. For example, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize the importance of eating healthier protein rich foods rather than concentrating on specific amounts of daily protein.
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The Myth Of 1 G/lb: Optimal Protein Intake For Bodybuilders
Protein. Its every bodybuilders favorite macronutrient and for good reason. Protein is extremely essential, super satiating and amazingly anabolic. Protein is awesome but youre consuming too much of it.
Like most myths, the belief that you should take in 1g/lb of body weight has become so deeply entrenched in the fitness world that its validity is rarely questioned. Strangely, very few people think its a bit too accidental that the optimal amount of protein your body can assimilate in a day is exactly 1g/lb. 2.2g/kg doesnt sound as right, does it? Of course, I know you read my articles for their scientific merit, so lets look at the literature on the effects of daily protein intake to find out if 1g/lb really is the optimal amount of protein intake for maximum muscle gains.
How Much Protein Do I Really Need
There are several factors that determine the protein requirement of an individual. The most common among them are weight, level of physical activity, medical history and need for essential amino acids and nitrogen.
The general chart suggests 19 grams for kids aged 4-9, 34 grams for kids aged 9-13, 52 grams and 46 grams respectively for boys and girls aged 14 and above.
Why Protein Matters?
In simple terms, proteins are the building blocks of the body. Made of amino acids, they build and repair muscle and tissues, maintain hair, skin, nails and bones and produce hormones, enzymes and other vital chemicals essential for the smooth functioning of the body.
Not getting enough protein can lead to muscle wasting, bone fractures and susceptibility to injury and infection.
How Much Protein Do I Need in a Day?
Protein requirement differs from person to person. A sportsperson or a fitness enthusiast requires more protein than his counterpart at a desk job. An adult requires more protein than a child. A sick or injured person requires more protein than a normal healthy person.
Protein Requirement of Athletes
The latest recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition is that athletes should get between 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kg body weight per day of protein. However, individual protein need depends on the type and intensity of training.
|Type of Athlete
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What Happens If You Eat Too Much Protein
Getting that much protein would be unpleasant and tough for most people. Youd have to eat 20 ounces of grilled chicken breast a day to get to 168 grams, or about seven scoops of a standard whey protein powder.
If youre currently getting more than the recommended maximum, Nicholas says that youre at a higher risk of kidney stones, which are painful. The good news is that, contrary to what you may have heard too much protein is unlikely to damage healthy kidneys, according to existing research. But if you already have kidney disease, excessive protein intake can worsen existing damage.
Too much protein in the form of processed or red meats may also increase your risk of certain cancers, Nicholas says. And don’t forget that excess protein, if not burned, can be stored as fat which may lead to weight gain.
Another potential side effect of eating too much protein a lack of fiber , which could happen if youre eating so much protein that you dont eat enough whole-food carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend about 38 grams of fiber per day for men, in order to aid digestion and prevent diarrhea and constipation, as well as to improve overall gut health and lower your risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Do You Want The Good News Or The Bad News First
Okay, Ill start with the bad news. Unfortunately, there are no magic foods that are directly related to increases in muscle mass. Similarly, there are no foods that directly influence weight loss.
The media specialises in fabricating these rules in order to create, essentially, sales and buy-in to these quick-fix products.
So, unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, especially when it comes to increasing muscle mass.
The good news!
The equation for building muscle is actually really, really simple! However, you absolutely must have patience, practice consistency with both your diet and training and re-evaluate your training intensity and programming to ensure maximum opportunity for tissue growth.
When it comes it building muscle, the nutrient that comes at the top of the priority list is protein. Protein is the building block for muscle tissue and is essential for growth, repair and maintenance of good health.
Even if your primary goal isnt to increase muscle mass, you still need to be aiming for at least 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day. When your primary goal is to increase muscle, then more attention needs to be paid to the timing of your protein feeding. To trigger the muscle building mechanisms, you ideally want to be aiming for a protein feed every 3-4 hours.
Additionally, due to the effect training has on the body, it is also important to focus protein around your workouts.
Now, here are some food ideas specifically around building muscle:
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