To answer this age old question the answer is one of our favorites...
Reason why is because context is everything when it comes to almost everything in fitness, training, and nutrition.
There are typically no real absolutes.
In regards to Protein how much you need depends on your weight, goal, and level of physical activity.
We already know the benefits right? Protein helps to heal our muscles after training and help regenerate cells. Some would even argue it is the MOST important macro nutrient of the all.
This article is not gonna take a deep dive into why you should eat protein (We will save that for another day). We are simply going to give you some tools that will help you decide how much your body really needs.
As we go through this article we will be discussing each section in grams per pound of bodyweight. If you do your own research you may find that some calculations are done in grams per Kilogram of bodyweight. Both work fine but being we work mostly with pounds I have taken the liberty of doing some of the math for you.
Let's dive in!
If you are healthy but not very active
Like I said above, finding out how much protein you need depends on a number of factors. Each factor pushes the determination in one direction or another.
To start we will discuss if you are of healthy weight (or slightly above normal) and NOT active. Not being very active for most typically means that your body is likely not occurring much muscular damage and you movement daily is low.
Your requirements per day are about .5g of Protein per pound of bodyweight.
To add to this some if you wish to improve your body composition and add in some training you can likely get some results.
Eating the protein alone won't change much unless that training is added in.
If you are healthy and Active
Now we are getting into if you training consistently and are in healthy ranges of weight/slightly above.
In this particular recommendation we are gonna assume you want to maintain your current weight and make sure you are recovering adequately from your activity.
You are training consistently and likely getting muscular damage from training.
Assuming all of these things you should aim to consume around .6-.75g per pound of bodyweight.
If you want to improve your body composition (more muscle, less fat) you may benefit from the higher end of the range.
If you want to Gain Muscle
Here is what we really all want right? I mean who doesn't want to build lean muscle mass and tons of it (everyone raises hands...).
If you are active and wanting to gain muscle .75-1g per pound of bodyweight is the perfect choice.
Resistance training, such as lifting weights, is of course required for muscle gain: you can’t just feed your muscles what they need to grow them. You also need to give them a reason to grow.
Challenge your body with hard resistance training and eat your protein!
Here is some insider information. You can actually increase that number even more to 1.5g per pound of bodyweight while gaining muscle. But not for what you would think.
Adding more protein won't help you add more muscle in theory. What it can do is allow you to make your intake of calories higher and minimize fat gain (which happens when you add mass). This is because protein is very hard to break down. Your body working to break protein down will help you to burn off the excess calories your body isn't utilizing for your gains!
If you want to Lose Body Fat
Protein is your friend when you want to lose fat. I've seen in some cases with our Nutrition Clients lean out when I simply add protein to their diet.
Eat more protein and lose fat. Cool right?
If wanting to lose body fat is the goal then consume .8-1.25g per pound of bodyweight. This will help you to prevent muscle loss which is very important in a losing situation.
Simply eating a diet higher in protein significantly reduces several metabolic risk factors, including waist circumference, blood pressure, and triglycerides, while also increasing satiety.
Lose weight, prevent metabolic issues, lower blood pressure, and feel more full...Seems like a no brainer!
How much Protein each meal?
Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is the process of building new skeletal muscle tissue. Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB) is essentially what happens when you train.
If your MPS exceeds your MPB overtime, you can expect to gain lean muscle tissue.
That being said every time you eat represents a time to facilitate muscle growth through the stimulation of MPS.
With that in mind frequently eating a portion of protein is ideal for growth and health. Recommended amounts here are gonna be based off total required intake of the day and how old a person is (because muscle tissue is also proportionate to the age of a person). We also need to factor the weight of the individual and activity levels.
Most Females ages 18-50 yrs old need 15-20g per meal. 50+ yrs old need 25-35g per meal.
Most Males ages 18-50 yrs old need 20-30g per meal. 50+ yrs old need 30-45g per meal.
With most recommendations start with the low end and see how you feel. Increase that based off what your body reveals to you in training or in biofeedback (hunger, mood, cravings, sleep, etc..).
Let us be VERY VERY clear... this is a guide. There is no one size fits all. Everyone needs are so individual and general guidelines like this will never replace a high quality Coach or Registered Dietitian.
The real thing you will likely find is it is likely you are not eating enough protein.
If you are not sure, start tracking food daily.
Once you find what you consume on average add 5-10g per day until you get to where you need to be.
Or, if you need help with all this Schedule a FREE Strategy Call with our team today!
Coach Cody Smith