How much protein is enough?
How much protein is enough?
My partner and I had a discussion on this topic last night, and although we may not have agreed on some parts of this topic, what we did agree on was important. The moral to this story.
What the topic was, was how much protein do you need per 1kg of bodyweight. I quoted for her 3g per 1 kg and she quoted 2.4g is optimal. This... we didn’t agree on and let me explain why below.
In this day and age so many new studies are released on protein and amounts etc and as she stated people with degrees and masters have quoted her amounts and so forth and for me I only had my own personal experience and research to back me up, which have come from some of the leading experts also.
No doubt given our history this erupted into a heated conversation “which I wouldn’t have any other way as she’s a fiery one, part the reason why I love her” but it did allow me to conclude and better explain my points below which I have always worked off when calculating protein and the principles I stick to.
Now call it an old bro science mentality but just hear me out, there are a lot of new studies to back up what i say below regarding why I have said what I have said.
So, let’s get into the juicy stuff.
Ok so amount of protein for everyday intake is a little Greek mythology and realistically vary from person to person for several reasons and each resident expert has their own opinion. I will outline below what I recommend and why so for those that don’t agree can counter my argument with research as the below has been proven on many occasions by people a lot smarter and educated than myself such as Layne Norton whom I will reference in this study.
Layne was also brought up during my partners and my conversation by both of us almost as our bouncer, so this is why ill reference the points i do also.
So from the beginning.
Protein is the most crucial building block for the body. You need protein for recovery, wound healing, cell maintenance and repair, cell growth, body change and composition, muscle building, you name it the list goes on.
These building blocks are broken down from protein into Amino Acids and utilized around the body for specific purposes such as above.
My argument and why……
I have always stated, experienced, researched and feel we need minimum 1.5g per 1 KG of body weight. This means if you weigh 75kg you need 112.5g as a bare minimum. Layne quotes 1.8kg per LBM minimum. So Similar amounts.
For growth and repair we need 2.0g+ per 1kg of body weight. This will allow to build more muscle, recover faster and get results quicker. Layne quotes 2.4g per 1kg of LBM is optimal. So similar amounts.
Now for me personally based on her goal in which is bikini competition and fat loss and a lean muscular physique body composition change I recommended the following.
3.0g per 1kg of body weight to make sure your maximising on results and not under consuming your required dosage. This is a principal I stick to for pretty much anyone trying to make a composition change especially if trying to maintain muscle at a deficit.
Now for a lot of people that may seem high (And didn’t my partner tell me) and Dr Google says numbers such as 1.8-2.4 are optimal. I don’t disagree with this but circumstances such as age (metabolism starts to become inefficient or wasteful), amount of activity (example 5-10g of amino acids are used approximately every 1 hour of strenuous exercise) and also if your eating for weight loss (At a deficit) it will also impact your total body protein bio availability due to some being converted through gluconeogenesis lowering for some people approximately 10-20% of protein intake for this process. All the above can change your overall daily requirement. This is fact. Layne Norton even says so. So meh.
Now lets do the math…..
Let’s calculate your intake on optimal levels such as 2.4g/1kg of body weight as quoted by the experts. I’m not going to get into LBM here because were talking a 10-15% buffer which when you see total figures below only makes it closer to my calculation anyway when you subtract this.
My partner weighs about 60kg for arguments sake. Meaning intake should be approximately 144g. 60 X 2.4. You would think great that’s enough. Ok let’s factor in a few things. This person is 32. Add 2 years over 30 where your metabolism drops protein about 1.5% percent per year so 2 years over 30 = 3% more protein needed. 144 add 3% = 148g. This person exercises 2 hours of weights and an additional 30min of cardio training. That’s 2.5 hours of exercise meaning 2.5 X 10g of Amino acids lost per 1 hour of training = an additional 25g of protein needed to offset this. 148+25 = 173g. And now the kicker. This person is eating at a deficit so needs an additional approximately 10-20% because of for example gluconeogenesis. So lets go 15% for arguments sake. 15% of 144g = 21.6g. 173+21.6g = 194.6. Now there is a more accurate read of protein intake. Divide that by 60kg = 3.24g/1kg of bodyweight.
Now if we did it in reverse and said the 144g was total consumed and worked out what we were getting per kg of body weight. 144g – 4g for age metabolism drop = 140g. Then minus an additional 25g for loss during exercise = 115g. Then the amount lost from the deficit = 21.6g. 115 – 21.6g = 93.4g total. Divide that by 60kg = 1.55g/1kg of body weight.
Now those 2 numbers 1.55 and 3.24 have a huge differential. We are talking under eating on protein or maintenance/minimum levels V what most say would be overeating on protein.
But this athlete like most is trying to preserve or even build lean mass at a deficit and they are consuming minimum levels of protein per kg of body weight while trying to maintain muscle mass. What are the chances this will happen? Very minimally compared to if adjustments were made to allow for a higher % of protein to be bio available to the body.
Moral to this is there is no one number fits all. That’s all we agreed on.
To me the benefits of overeating on protein from my personal experiences has always been extremely more beneficial to under eating protein. Understandable you sacrifice on some yummy carbs to counter act this increase but come on your eating at a deficit anyway. What’s more important? maintaining muscle or enjoying a few extra carbs? Don’t shoot me, I’m not rocking the boat on cutting carbs I’m just saying to remain at a deceit something must give, and i would rather loose carbs than protein.
I mean I’m pretty sure most would rather have a full tank of fuel and a spare jerry can rather than risk a road trip on half a tank, right?
Personal experience and qualifications 😉