How Much Protein Is Enough?
Trending. Seems to be a relatively new word for my limited un-John Romano-esque vocabulary, but apparently, even the word “trending” is, in fact, trending on social media right now. Oh, the irony! As are with most things that people tend to follow, trends or patterns seem to take shape. Trends in the money market place. Trends in the fashion forum. Trends in Hollywood movie productions. Trens in trenning (see what I did there?). Bodybuilding has long been intimate bedmates with Nutrition, and as bodybuilding trends progressed, as did the nutritional world. Like old lovers trying new positions, or, new lovers trying old positions…a topic I know very little about. Nutritional requirements for Bodybuilding have been waxing and waning since the 60’s, just like the escalating and undulating sand dunes of Sleeping Bear (shout out to all Michigan-ites!). The Bodybuilding trends during these Instagram and Facebook fueled times have a proclivity towards staying leaner in the offseason/improvement-season, and in an amusing coincidence, the posting of weekly junk food meals. Also, there seems to be an inclination towards NOT pounding the protein down, as 1990’s supplement marketing ads would have you believe. If you weigh 200 lbs., then you NEED 400+ grams of protein. Seeing as how that’s what an advertisement told me to do in the 1997 June’s edition of Flex Magazine, it seems accurate? As eye-opening as that experience was to read, as was the realization that I was terribly under-eating the number of egg whites and tuna cans per day, looking back, it wasn’t all that crazy?? Although, here’s the rub; what most muscle building aficionadas had believed at the time was that it would require 2g of protein per pound of bodyweight, but did the same rules apply to someone who was 200 lbs. and 50% body fat?? By my mathematically challenged calculations, that leaves 100 lbs. of fat free mass, and something was telling me that those bulbous beautiful fat cells didn’t “need” protein NOR did they need any help growing. As trends progressed, so did the science, and my little brain was on to something! Sure, 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight was a decent start, but as trends would suggest and to be more accurate, perhaps 2g of protein per pound of LEAN bodyweight would be a better target? Now we’re talking. Great SCOTT! Leaping ahead “Back to Future” to the Insta-Era, and you’ll see various coaches and newer coaches and brand new coaches that just decided they were going to start coaching because they lost some weight and placed 14th in a local Bikini lineup #NPCNationallyQualified, preaching waffling levels of protein intake dependent upon dietary needs, lean mass, and of course, based on balance of other macronutrients. I can agree with this, and I can also disagree with this to a certain degree. I can agree that, YES, in the instance of a ketogenic style diet where macronutrient intake is devoid of any carbohydrates, caloric intake will need to come from Proteins and Fats. In such a case as this, a protein intake amount maybe higher than the generally accepted decree of “2g/1lbs LEAN MASS”. However, where I can disagree is in the example of taking in minimal amounts of protein, in hopes of building or maintaining muscle, while increasing fats and carbohydrates in the objective of “sparing” the proteins that are being consumed. Let me tell you something, the human body is a lot smarter than you are. If you think that the human metabolism agrees with mathematics, then you are off your abacus. Don’t expect to eat 100g of protein per day as a 200 lbs. bodybuilder and presume to spare those “protein calories” by eating a surplus of carbohydrates and fats. Not only would you be a spare tire away from a muffin top, but you would probably (for a hard training bodybuilder) be entering into a muscle wasting state sooner or later. Under-eating isn’t good, and over-eating isn’t ideal. So what’s the answer? Answer is: it depends! I can say “it depends” for a couple of reasons, firstly, because in this now highly litigious society we live in, by saying “it depends” it protects me from legal dispute and threats of; “I’m suing you because you said I needed etc, etc, etc…” What ever happened to the good-old “I’m gonna kick your ass” threat?? And secondly, because it is the absolute truth! The standard statute of “2g/1 lbs. of LEAN MASS”, although scientifically undefined and unproven, is a great place to start because it takes a little more work to figure out just how much protein is right for you, but is also not the be all/end all Edict of Protein Axium. Let me address something quickly, I wholeheartedly understand the fact that if someone is 10% body fat at 130 lbs. it doesn’t mean that that person is 117 lbs. of solid muscle! There is also weight that needs to be accounted for in terms of bones, internal organs, skin, central nervous system tissue, peripheral nervous system tissue, water, glycogen, etc, it just means that 13 lbs. of body fat are chronicled and understood. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but it needed to be done. In light of this information, I will use myself as a guinea pig for this example. VEEJ CASE STUDY: At a whopping 210 lbs., I measure 11% body fat and 1% donut, that is 12% total giving me a staggering 184.8 lbs. of fat free/donut free mass to play with for my approximate calculations. Now using our “Law of Protein Intake” formula, that would put me at a daily intake of 369g of protein/day!! That’s some pungent methane production! I know from a couple of decades of bodybuilding playtime, that that number is ridiculous for me and, thus, highly ineffective. Now given what I already know about my body, I don’t tolerate fats very well, but do tolerate carbohydrates to a certain degree. I also know about myself, again from years of personal self-testing, that I only need roughly 2300 overall calories per day in order to “grow” and not get too fat. Given that there are 4 calories per 1g of carbohydrate, 4 calories per 1g of protein, and 9 calories per 1g fat, AND also understanding that I need a diet that is calorically split among 50% Carbohydrate, 10% Fats, and 40% Protein, I can extrapolate from the estimated 2300 calories that I would need; 287.5g carbohydrate, 230g protein, and 26g fat…give or take 2g of donut. -END CASE STUDY- Taking this case study into consideration, you can begin to understand why protein intake “depends”. Getting enough protein in your diet is vital for muscle growth, but equally as important is the QUALITY of protein! Don’t get me started on quality proteins (COUGH** VEGANS **COUGH). How about this as a newer Proclamation of Protein Perseverance; just get 30-40g of protein per meal and eat 5-6 times a day and adjust your diet accordingly… Oh, and use RedCon1’s ISOTOPE because it is HIGH QUALITY WHEY ISOLATES, brimming with essential amino acids and amazing taste, and a welcomed and convenient addition to any diet style with the goal of consuming a great quality protein source, and so that I can keep my job. ~by Vijay Puri BS DC