It started with the Atkins diet – the craze to increase the amount of protein you consume every day. And now the supplements company are beating down your doors to make you think that you are severely lacking in protein. So how much do you really need?
Numerous studies have been done to determine how our body synthesis proteins, how much is too much and what happens to the excess. Here is the low down:
- An average person with sedentary lifestyle needs 0.8gm per kg of body weight (Ref 1). So if you are 70kgs, you need 56gms of proteins.
- If you are targeting muscle gain and lift weights, you need about 1.8 – 2gms per kg of lean body weight (Ref2). Your lean body weight is your fat free weight – i.e. your body weight minus your body fat weight. Body Fat Measuring Device: Do You Need One and the Best One To Buy.
Now for your protein requirement: With body weight of 70kgs and 20% body fat, you would need, (70*(1-20%)*1.8) i.e. 100gms of proteins.
If you think you train hard and need more than the 1.8gms, consider this – Lemon et al (1992) studied bodybuilders training 90 mins for 6 days a week and still concluded that 1.65gms/kg of Body Weight is the highest intake at which the body composition could benefit (Ref3).
- For endurance athletes the protein requirement is lower at about 1.2 – 1.4gms per kg of lean body mass.
Now, it would be ridiculous to expect that you would measure every meal and count every gm to make sure that you are meeting your protein requirement. An approximate measure is all you need.
- 250ml of Cow’s Milk gives you 8.5g protein
- 100g of Homemade Curd is 11g of proteins
- 1 large Whole Egg is 6g of proteins
- 100g of Chicken Breast is 25-30g of proteins
- 100g of Tuna fish is also about 30g of proteins
Track your food consumption on typical days and use a smart app like FitnessPal or similar to determine the protein you are consuming approximately.
If you are off by more than 20%, only then consider a protein supplement, else whole foods is the ideal way to give your body complete proteins.
Ref1: Lemon PW. Effects of exercise on dietary protein requirements. International Journal of Sports and Nutrition. 1998 Dec; 8(4): 426-47
Ref2: Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38
Ref3: Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1992 Aug;73(2):767-75.