Protein intake is a commonly asked question in athletic and sedentary communities alike. Here is a well researched article from Marks Daily Apple to satisfy your curiousity. Enjoy!
The answer – wait for it – depends on who (and what) you are. Your goals, your age, your activity levels, your size, and your health status all impact how much protein you need. And although individual protein requirements ultimately depend on dozens of variables that we can’t really know, there are some baseline intakes that can serve as a foundation for different groups. Let’s take a look.
The RDA of 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight or 0.36 g protein/lb bodyweight assumes you are sedentary, uninterested in gaining muscle, and free of health issues that might compromise your lean mass. If that describes you, the RDA is a good baseline from which to experiment. Just don’t go below that.
Athletes need more protein than the average person, but perhaps not as much as most fitness enthusiasts think (or consume). A 2011 paper on optimal protein intakes for athletes concluded that 1.8 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.8 g protein/lb bodyweight) maximizes muscle protein synthesis (while higher amounts are good for dieting athletes interested in preserving lean mass), whereas another settled on “a diet with 12-15% of its energy as protein,” assuming “total energy intake is sufficient to cover the high expenditures caused by daily training” (which could be quite high). One study even found benefit in 2-3 g protein/kg bodyweight (0.9-1.4 g protein/lb bodyweight) for athletes, a significant increase over standard recommendations. That said, I wouldn’t be too quick to discount anecdotal evidence or “iron lore.” A significant-enough portion of the strength training community swears by 1-2 g protein/lb bodyweight that it couldn’t hurt to try if lower amounts aren’t working for you.
Weight loss involves a caloric deficit (whether arrived at spontaneously or consciously). Unfortunately, caloric deficits rarely discriminate between lean mass and body fat, while most people are interested in losing fat, not muscle/bone/tendon/sinew/organ. Numerous studies show that increasing your protein intake during weight loss will partially offset the lean mass loss that tends to occur. In obese and pre-obese women, a 750 calorie diet with 30% of calories from protein (about 56 grams) preserved more lean mass during weight loss than an 18% protein diet. Another study in women showed that a 1.6 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight) diet led to more weight loss, more fat loss, and less lean mass loss than a 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight diet. Among dieting athletes, 2.3 g protein/kg bodyweight (or a little over 1 g protein/lb bodyweight) was far superior to 1.0 g protein/kg bodyweight in preserving lean mass. And, although specific protein intake recommendations were not stated, a recent meta-analysis concluded that high-protein weight loss diets help preserve lean mass.
Healing wounds increases protein requirements. After all, you’re literally rebuilding lost or damaged tissue, the very definition of an anabolic state. One review
recommends around 1.5 g protein/kg bodyweight or close to 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight for injured patients.
The protein RDA may not suffice for older people, who lose thigh muscle mass and exhibit lower urinary nitrogen excretion when given the standard 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight. What’s good for the goose may not be good for the elderly, frail gander. More recent studies indicate that a baseline intake of 1.0-1.3 g protein/kg bodyweight or 0.5-0.6 g protein/lb bodyweight is more suitable for the healthy and frail elderly to ensure nitrogen balance. As always, active seniors will probably do better with slightly more, and evidence suggests that increasing protein can both improve physical performance without necessarily increasing muscle mass and increase muscle mass when paired with extended resistance training in the elderly.
These are just starting points, mind you. Guidelines. Play around with your protein intake.
Losing strength/muscle during weight loss? Increase the protein.
Your favorite cut of meat suddenly disgusts you? Try reducing the protein.
Not recovering from workouts? Increase the protein.
Ideally, you should be able to bump the protein up and down depending on what your body requires. I’ve reached that point myself, and I think once you get there, it gets a lot easier. You shouldn’t have to count protein grams and I don’t want you to obsess over the numbers listed above, as they are merely guidelines to consider. As long as you’re observing the “best practices” like eating offal, incorporating gelatinous cuts and/or stock, and eating a variety of foods, your protein intake should be fairly intuitive.
Anyway, I hope this was helpful, and maybe illuminating, without being too much. Going Primal/Paleo doesn’t necessarily mean gorging on meat, especially lean meat. It certainly can, from time to time, if that lines up with your goals and needs, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And as time goes on and you grow more attuned to your body, you may find yourself simply requiring – and thus craving – less meat. Or more meat, if that’s what your body needs. Bodies are funny like that.
What do you think about all this? How much protein do you eat on average? How has that changed over the years?
3 Rounds for Time
- 50 Calorie Row
- 15 HSPU
- 50 Double Unders
Strength Workout Of The Day
Banded Hamstring Curls
Back, Front or Box Squat
8 Rep Max
Dumbbell Romanian Tempo Deadlifts
2 x Failure