In the previous segment of this chapter, we discussed what protein is, what it does and how it can help you achieve your goals. Those goals include, but not limited to: gaining muscle, losing fat, optimizing your health, increasing your performance, or recomping. Whatever your goal is, protein will play a significant role. We also showed that protein is the most calorie-burning macronutrient. Now, the next question we must answer is: what is my ideal protein intake to achieve my goal(s)?
Ideal daily protein intake
Ideal protein intake for individuals who just want to lose weight and don’t care about retaining muscle mass = 0.5 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you decide that you want to maximize fat loss, increase your protein intake.
Ideal protein intake for individuals who want to gain muscle, maximize fat loss or recomp (build muscle and lose fat at the same time) = 0.7-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a female, male, old, or young. Those numbers will work well for anyone with any goal.
Now, many people within the fitness realm claim that you need at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Some even suggest increasing that to 1.5-2 grams of protein for each pound of body weight. However, I beg to differ.
Clinical trials have concluded many times that there are no additional benefits on fat loss or muscle building endeavors when consume more than 0.7-0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Don’t take my word on it, feel free to search around. From my personal experience, I have also found this to be true. If you would like to read a bit on this matter, feel free to check out this well-organized research paper by 3 well-respected fitness figures: Alan Aragon, Eric Helms and Peter Fitschen.
In my modest opinion and experience, all you will get from such a high protein intake will be a bloated stomach and bad gas! Also, keep in mind that you will be either in a state of caloric surplus, caloric deficit, or caloric balance, which means that you have a daily budget (limit) of calories that you can spend. Consuming such a high protein intake will be unnecessary, will be on the expense of the other macronutrients intake since majority of your calories will come from protein and you will get bloated and kill everyone with your awful gas! Moreover, while protein is an essential component of a successful diet plan, so are the other macros. So, if you opt-in for a higher protein intake, those ideal macros’ intakes will also be affected and thus your diet plan will not be as optimal as it should be.
If those reasons are not enough to convince you to not consume that much protein, I have one more reason for you! Most people, especially beginners will usually attempt to get their protein intake from a protein supplement. This is a fact! This is absolutely fine, however, given the high prices of protein supplements, if you opt-in for such a high protein intake, you will be literally blowing your money in the air! Now, I am not trying to bash protein supplements. They are useful, delicious, convenient and come in handy during certain times, but if you are going to spend money on them, at least use them properly. With that said, the most common recommended protein intake is 1 gram per pound of body weight. That ratio is also good.
Let’s take a look at a quick example:
Nick is a guy who wants to build some muscle and enhance his aesthetic appearance. Good for you, Nick! Nick weighs 150 lbs. What is Nick’s ideal daily protein intake?
Using the guidelines above: 150 * 0.7/1 = 105 – 150 grams of protein per day!
Voila! Nick should eat between 105 grams 150 grams of protein per day to build muscle at the optimal rate and stay healthy.
Let’s look at a different scenario.
Roy is an overweight guy who just wants to lose weight. Roy does NOT care about retaining muscle mass. Roy weighs 300 pounds. How much protein should Roy eat every day to stay healthy and perform well?
Answer: Given that Roy should eat 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, Roy should eat = 0.5 * 300 = 150 grams of protein per day.
Fortunately, this rate will also help overweight individual burn more fat than muscle. Thus, it works out pretty well for them. However, if they want to gain more muscle and lose more fat along the process, they should increase their protein intake slightly and stick with 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
That’s it! You have successfully calculated your ideal daily protein intake to support your goal. You might be wondering where you can get your daily protein intake from.
List of foods that are high in protein (complete protein)
- Lean cuts of beef.
- Eggs (whole eggs and egg whites).
- Dairy (yogurt, cheese, kefir, milk, quark).
- Whey protein.
- Legumes (beans). (incomplete protein)
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts…etc.). (incomplete protein)
Obviously, this list doesn’t include every single food that is high in protein, however, it’s a good list that most people already eat on a daily basis. Thus, base your diet plan on this list and you will have an easy time getting your daily protein requirements.
Protein as part of your caloric intake
So far, you learned how to calculate your daily caloric requirements as well your ideal daily protein requirements depending on your goal(s). Fantastic! Remember that we have a specific number of calories (budget) we have to abide by. Thus, it’s time to learn how many calories will protein account for your total daily caloric intake.
1 gram of protein has 4 calories
That’s it! Very easy, huh? What does this mean? This means that every gram of protein consumed will supply your body by 4 calories.
If your daily caloric requirements = 2500 calories.
And your ideal daily protein intake = 150 grams of protein.
You would be consuming: 150 * 4 = 600 calories coming from protein every day.
Thus, your ideal daily protein intake will account for 600 calories out of your daily caloric budget (2500 calories).
This concludes the protein section. Good job!
The next step is to learn about another macronutrient: carbohydrates! Click on the link below to start.