When I was going to school for nutrition in the ’80s, it was always recommended lower protein to people. The thought then was that too much protein would be bad for the kidneys. Today, we know better. For people who train hard, protein recommendations are at least double what they are for inactive people. That means that if you’re in the gym training hard, you should be eating at least 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of your target body weight.1
If you want a simpler recommendation, go for at least 1 gram of protein per pound of your targeted body weight. If you continue with an active lifestyle through adulthood like I have, these protein recommendations don’t really change. In fact, it seems that we might need relatively more protein as we transition from our 20s into our 60s and beyond.2
Law 5: Protein Up and Often 10 Laws Of Muscle-Building
Watch the video – 4:13
Rise and Protein Synthesize
Unless you eat protein right before bed, chances are your protein-balance scale will be tipping toward muscle protein breakdown (MPB) in the morning. This negative gap will continue until you eat a significant amount of protein (at least 20 grams). So, when you wake up, eat up! Protein before exercise may also help burn more calories during the effort and still allow for good fat burning after.3
Protein Up Post-Workout
Muscle protein balance has to be a principal consideration once you finish a workout.4,5 If it’s been a few hours since your last meal, get 20-25 grams of protein in within the hour after training. I suggest whey protein post-workout because it’s fast digesting and will quickly help balance that net protein.
Protein Up When Calories Are Down
The more restrictive your calories are, the more protein you need to hold on to muscle.6 If you’re trying for a super shred, you’ll have to eat more than 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Remember, though, if you deplete your calories too low (more than 80 percent), no amount of protein you eat will prevent protein breakdown.7
Veggie Protein Power
Although animal and dairy proteins are the most bioavailable, plant-based proteins can certainly be used to meet protein requirements. So, if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you can definitely still hit those protein-intake recommendations!
- Campbell, B., Kreider, R. B., Ziegenfuss, T., La Bounty, P., Roberts, M., Burke, D., Landis, J., Lopez, H., & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. JISSN, 4, 8.
- Moore, D. R., Churchward-Venne, T. A., Witard, O., Breen, L., Burd, N. A., Tipton, K. D., & Phillips, S. M. (2015). Protein ingestion to stimulate myofibrillar protein synthesis requires greater relative protein intakes in healthy older versus younger men. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 70(1), 57-62.
- Wingfield, H. L., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Melvin, M. N., Roelofs, E. J., Trexler, E. T., Hackney, A. C., … & Ryan, E. D. (2015). The acute effect of exercise modality and nutrition manipulations on post-exercise resting energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio in women: a randomized trial. Sports Medicine-Open, 2.
- Moore, D. R., Robinson, M. J., Fry, J. L., Tang, J. E., Glover, E. I., Wilkinson, S. B., … & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(1), 161-168.
- Phillips, S. M. (2009). Physiologic and molecular bases of muscle hypertrophy and atrophy: impact of resistance exercise on human skeletal muscle (protein and exercise dose effects). Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 34(3), 403-410.
- Madzima, T. A., Panton, L. B., Fretti, S. K., Kinsey, A. W., & Ormsbee, M. J. (2014). Night-time consumption of protein or carbohydrate results in increased morning resting energy expenditure in active college-aged men. British Journal of Nutrition, 111(1), 71-77.
- Phillips, S. M. (2014). A brief review of higher dietary protein diets in weight loss: a focus on athletes. Sports Medicine, 44(2), 149-153.