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Protein is an essential macronutrient for life, one that is often under consumed by the general public and in contrast, over consumed by those within the physique sport community. So how much protein should you actually consume per day? It’s a common question that often comes under much debate, it sounds like a simple thing to ask but unfortunately it can’t be met with such a simple answer. Our daily intake of protein is extremely dependent on our individual body composition and lifestyle. Our activity levels, health status, lifestyle choices and overall goals will all impact the amount of protein our body requires to best function in it’s given environment.
On the most basic level, to stay healthy, we need to consume around 0.6g/lb (grams of protein per pound) of bodyweight as a bare minimum, however a higher protein intake is required and has shown to be beneficial for those with increased activity levels as well as those attempting to alter body composition, both in regards to muscle gain and weight loss.
In regards to weight loss, high protein diets have been shown to help preserve lean body mass when dieting to reduce body fat. In these weight loss phases, as we reduce overall caloric intake, increasing the amount of protein we consume relative to our body weight will yield great benefit in improving overall body composition. Anywhere between 0.8-1.8g/lb has been found to be effective for retention of lean body mass during a weight loss period. One exception to this rule is that, if an individual falls under the rating of obese at the beginning of a weight loss journey, it is important to calculate their gram per pound of protein intake off their lean body mass, as their total body weight shows a skewed value to what their body would actually require.
For an individual that is physically active and looking for improved recovery and increased training adaptation, a protein intake of up to 2g/lb can have great benefit. The higher protein intake will lead to increased levels of amino acids, in particular L-Leucine in the bloodstream. Higher levels of Leucine will increase our body’s rate of muscle protein synthesis and decrease the rate of muscle protein breakdown, leading to improved lean muscle gain as well as overall performance and recovery. It is important to note that while increasing protein intake as high as 3g/lb may not be necessary, it has not been shown to be harmful for the body and may illicit some minor additional benefits for extremely active individuals or those seeking to increase muscle mass to a more extreme level.
While studies have been done that show benefits for protein intakes ranging from 0.6g/lb – 3g/lb relative to bodyweight, it is important to remember that the amount of protein you decide to consume should be based off your individual circumstances over all else. Pay attention to how that amount of protein you consume makes you feel. Focus on things such as digestion, is it keeping up with all the food or are you bloated, heavy and uncomfortable? Look at these factors, listen to your body and adjust accordingly within the guideline numbers proposed.
As a highly active person, professional athlete or someone simply attempting to alter body composition, aiming for 1-1.5g/lb would be a good starting point. If you find yourself to be someone quite sedentary who simply requires adequate protein for optimal health and bodily function, then 0.6-0.8g/lb seems to be the sweet spot to aim for. These recommendations are simply guidelines and do not account for extraneous conditions such as medical altercations, so remember to keep those things in mind.
Check out some of our favourite protein options here to up your protein intake. There’s a protein for your goals!
Author Glen George from our Blackburn store!