Do You Need More Protein Than You Think You Do?

In fitness nutrition, one thing you hear the most about is protein protein protein… If you want to build muscle, get enough protein. Losing weight? Well, eat your protein! Stay the same weight? Protein. Just wanna chill on the couch all day and do nothing? Well, then you’re gonna need PROTEIN! We’re tirelessly told that we need it, but exactly how much protein should we be eating? If you look up RDAs from places like the World Health Organization and National Academy of Sciences, you’ll typically find numbers around .8 to 1 gram per KILOGRAM of your bodyweight. A modest amount, but nothing massive. For a 180-pound male, that’s roughly two chicken breasts or three and a half scoops of your favorite protein supplement. But, these recommendations are for the average person simply meeting daily requirements for a healthy life. Since almost all fitness goals revolve around either building or preserving muscle tissue, naturally it will require more protein.

One of the ways to determine adequate protein intake is measuring your nitrogen balance. From the three macronutrients, protein is the only one that contains the element nitrogen. Knowing this, researchers can figure out if you’re eating enough protein by measuring the nitrogen content in your food and the nitrogen content that you excrete. The goal is to achieve a positive nitrogen balance, meaning the amount of nitrogen you’re consuming is greater than the amount leaving your body. Of course, measuring your own nitrogen balance is a rather, complicated task. Fortunately, we can look at studies to determine the best value for positive nitrogen balance or educatively guess the best amount for building or preserving muscle. For people that don’t work out and just want a healthy dose of protein, then the RDA of .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight is completely fine. In fact, studies show that subjects can achieve a positive nitrogen balance with only 15 percent of their nutrition coming from protein, pretty much spot on with the RDA.

When you add exercise and goals to the mix, though, things quickly change. When it comes to weight loss, intuitive thinking might tell you, you need less protein since you generally eat less to begin with. Studies, however, show favorable results from those that eat a higher protein diet, especially if they are either experienced lifters or have a low bodyfat percentage. The more bodyfat you have, the more you can get away with eating less protein. And the more intense you are training, the more protein you need to supplement the break down that will occur. All this being said, for people wanting to lose weight or bodyfat while preserving lean mass, eating roughly grams to grams per kilogram of bodyweight tend to do the trick granted you are exercising enough.

Bear in mind, though, that even the subjects eating the most protein still saw a drop in overall lean mass, just not as much as those eating less. For people wanting to bulk, surprisingly, the studies tend to favor protein amounts lower than your weight loss counterparts. Almost all studies showed similar improvements in muscle protein synthesis with a protein intake of to grams per kilogram of bodyweight, those that are more fit requiring the higher end of the spectrum. Strength gains, however, do favor a protein intake above 3 grams per kilogram, but is not exactly necessary, especially if you’re a beginning to intermediate lifter. In any case, there are drawbacks to eating too much protein. For weight loss, eating too much protein means fewer calories from the more energy-efficient macronutrients carbs and fats. Not only will you have less energy, chances are that it will be much more difficult to adhere to your diet since it leaves little room for more desirable food choices.

For weight gain, too much protein will make it difficult to meet calorie needs since it will make you feel full quicker. Protein is also the most energy-inefficient macronutrient, requiring your body to take roughly 30% of the calories from protein just to digest and use it as energy. So if you struggle meeting these ranges mentioned, try sticking to the low end of the spectrum or at the very least, try meeting the minimum requirement of grams per kilogram of bodyweight.

And no, unless you already have renal issues, eating too much protein will not destroy your kidneys. Studies show that people can get away with eating as much as grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight with no health issues. Last but not least, never forget that having the proper exercise program paired with proper nutrition is your best bet. If you feel confident about your workouts, give these recommendations a shot and see if it works for you. If you have any recommendations yourself, share it in the comments. Please like and share the video if you enjoyed it. And don’t forget to subscribe! .

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