We all know that protein is crucial for muscle gain. That’s Fitness 101 knowledge, and we’re all familiar with the importance of adding more protein into our diets in order to lose weight and bulk up. But the truth is that the actual amount of protein we need to get is a subject of huge debate. The recommendations can change from expert to expert, or from diet to diet, and you may find that it’s nearly impossible to know exactly how much daily recommended protein you need. Below is a bit more information that will help guide you:
The Two Groups of People Who Benefit from A High Protein Diet
A recent study looked at adults who exceeded their recommended daily dose of protein, and found that high protein intake helped to increase lean muscle mass. However, it only did so in groups of people who were incorporating strength training into their daily life, or who were limiting overall calorie intake. For the rest of the world, extra protein didn’t do any good. That’s a pretty clear answer there, isn’t it? As long as you’re working out and/or cutting back on calories, going for a bit of extra protein is good. Otherwise, you’re just adding extra calories to your diet without seeing any real benefit.
Extra Protein Protects Your Muscle
In the study mentioned above, the researchers found that adding extra protein to your diet helped to prevent muscle mass loss while on a reduced calorie diet. People who restricted caloric intake were less likely to lose mass if they were consuming more protein. Pairing that reduced calorie diet and high protein intake with resistance training led to visible gains in muscle mass.
How Much Protein?
According to the Institute of Medicine, your daily recommended dose of protein is roughly 0.8 grams per 1 kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of lean body weight (weight minus fat weight). However, this is a recommendation based on the “average” person—i.e., someone who leads a more sedentary life, works a desk job, and who doesn’t get too much high-intensity exercise in their lives. More active people should consider a protein intake of around 1 gram per kilogram, while those who lead very active lives (such as professional athletes or hardcore resistance trainees) should consume as much as 1.2 grams per kilogram of lean body weight. That way, they get all the protein needed to repair their muscles after very intense exercise, and the protein helps to protect their lean muscle mass.
How Much Protein For Weight Loss?
If you’re incorporating daily resistance training into your weight loss regimen, it’s not a bad idea to consume between 1 and 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight loss. Some experts recommend consuming between 10 and 20% of your daily calories from known protein sources, as your body will get additional protein from other sources—everything from bananas to peanut butter to oats to whole grains. Eating more protein while doing exercise to lose weight will help to keep your metabolism working well and aid in your weight loss efforts.
Can You Eat Too Much Protein?
Yes, there is such a thing as too much protein. Your body can only process so much per hour, which means too much protein floods your body with excess amino acids. Most of the time, these amino acids are simply disposed of and cause no harm. However, chronic and long term excess protein consumption can strain your kidneys—especially problematic for people with existing kidney issues. That’s why it’s so important to stick to a healthy amount of protein.