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How much protein do you REALLY need?

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You will hear a lot of different numbers being thrown around when it comes to protein intake. There’s a good reason for this, it is highly dependent on your own circumstances.

Do you know how many circumstantial factors the recommended daily intake (RDI) on Australian nutritional tables consider in determining the level of protein you require? Zero. This also happens to be a great indicator of its usefulness in helping you determine your own personal nutritional requirements on your journey of fitness transformation. Zero.

The main variables are your body weight and the amount of muscle recovery your level of physical activity requires. But even still there are other variables that can further complicate the answer to this illusive question which you might find quite surprising…

But firstly a general table guide to protein requirements.

Survival Sedentary Active Professional Bodybuilder
Males 0.25g/kg 0.7g/kg 1-1.2g/kg 3-4g/kg
Females 0.25g/kg 0.7g/kg 1-1.2g/kg 2-3g/kg

 

From looking at this table you can see how widely protein requirements differ even between active and professional bodybuilders, both of which would probably usually simply be described as physically active.

But wait there’s more…

So what other variables are there that go beyond this table? When it comes to fitness transformation, protein is more useful than straight up muscle recovery and building, particularly if your goal is to reduce body fat. You have heard it said that a calorie is a calorie so excess protein calories must just get stored as fat right? Well it is technically possible but it would be disingenuous to simply say so.

The process of digesting and metabolising protein makes it extremely inefficient for your body to convert it to fat. Let’s take a look at the journey of excess protein calories. Your body burns 30% of the calories from the protein during the initial digestion alone. Your body will burn a further 33% of the original calories in converting the protein to glucose. Then finally your body burns a further 25% of the glucose to convert it into fat stores. This means a maximum of 35% of the original calories from protein can ever be stored as fat. When following the same digestion process for carbohydrates we will find that 70% of the original calories can be stored as fat. That’s twice as much as from protein!

In short if your body transformation goals have anything to do with being lean then when it comes to calorie consumption, protein is your best bet. Don’t let the back of a cereal box boss you around, take a holistic approach to determining your own level.

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