Protein: How much do you really need?

by | Feb 1, 2023 | Public Access | 0 comments

Protein is the buzzword when it comes to bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition. We’re told its important for building muscle and losing weight but whilst the RDA (Recommended daily amount) is around 0.8g/Kg of Bodyweight the old school myth of 1g per lb of bodyweight or 2g/kg still prevails. And do we really need protein shakes? Lets take a dive!

How much protein per day?

In the article “Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training” by Stokes et al. (2018), the authors concluded that to optimize the adaptive potential of a resistance-training program, athletes should aim to consume about 1.6 g/kg body mass per day of protein, with periods of energy restriction requiring higher protein intake (2.3–3.1 g/kg/day) to prevent reductions in muscle mass.

This is supported by Morton et al. (2020) whose systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression found that 49 trials with 1863 participants showed that protein supplementation increased changes in strength, fat-free mass, muscle fiber cross-sectional area, and mid-femur cross-sectional area.

The impact of protein supplementation on fat-free mass was reduced with age and was more effective in resistance-trained individuals. However, protein supplementation beyond 1.62 g/kg/day did not result in further RET-induced gains in fat-free mass but greater amounts may improve muscle retention In caloric deficit.

How much protein per meal?

A study by Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon (2022) evaluated the maximum amount of protein that can be utilized for lean tissue building in a single meal for those who participate in resistance training.

The data suggested that to maximize anabolism, protein intake should be at a target of 0.4 g/kg/meal in at least four meals to reach a minimum of 1.6 g/kg/day, with the upper daily intake of 2.2 g/kg/day spread across the same four meals with a maximum of 0.55 g/kg/meal.

Whey Protein/dairy

Dietary protein supplementation plays a crucial role in the promotion of muscle hypertrophy and strength through resistance exercise training. Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the impact of dairy protein intake on muscle mass, strength, and physical performance in middle-aged to older adults, with or without sarcopenia.

A systematic review and meta-analysis by Hanach, McCullough, and Avery (2019) found that dairy protein supplementation significantly increased appendicular muscle mass but had no effect on handgrip or leg press strength. The impact of dairy protein on the Short Physical Performance Battery was inconclusive.

Protein In older Individuals and safety

A study by Traylor, Gorissen, and Phillips (2018) proposed that older individuals should consume at least 1.2g protein per kilogram of body weight per day, with an emphasis on the amino acid leucine, which stimulates muscle anabolism. The authors also stated that concerns about the potential negative effects of higher protein intake on renal and bone health lack scientific evidence in humans.

Summary

In summary, dietary protein supplementation is essential in promoting muscle hypertrophy and strength through resistance exercise training. The recommended protein intake varies from 1.2 g/kg/day to 2.2 g/kg/day, with a focus on the amino acid leucine.

Generally, I’d aim for 1.6g/Kg of bodyweight and adjust from there depending on weight loss or muscle building goals, aiming for 20-40g of protein per meal. However, Further research is necessary to establish a clear consensus on the optimal protein intake for different age groups and individuals with specific conditions.

Sources

  • Stokes, T., Hector, A. J., Morton, R. W., McGlory, C., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Recent perspectives regarding the role of dietary protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training. Nutrients, 10(2), 180. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10020180
  • Morton, R.W., Murphy, K.T., McKellar, S.R., Schoenfeld, B.J., Henselmans, M., Helms, E., Aragon, A.A., Devries, M.C., Banfield, L., Krieger, J.W., 2020. Correction: A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med.
  • Schoenfeld, B. J., & Aragon, A. A. (2022, April 1). How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. Published online.
  • Hanach, N. I., McCullough, F., & Avery, A. (2019). The impact of dairy protein intake on muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance in middle-aged to older adults with or without existing sarcopenia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Advances in Nutrition, 10(1), 59-69. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy065
  • Traylor, D. A., Gorissen, S. H. M., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Perspective: Protein Requirements and Optimal Intakes in Aging: Are We Ready to Recommend More Than the Recommended Daily Allowance? Advances in Nutrition, 9(3), 171-182. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy003

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