How Much Protein Should I Have A Day

Posted by FitNation Team on

"It really depends on your goals and when you ate your last meal prior to working out," says Marie Spano, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., consulting sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Braves and lead author of Nutrition for Sport, Exercise, and Health. "If you want to maximally build muscle, you should have a protein-rich meal (or shake) every three to five hours throughout the day."

People should be having regular servings of protein every three to five hours throughout the day, regardless of whether they did an hour of strength training or 30 minutes of yoga. But those who are more active and are doing tougher workouts need to be consuming more protein than the average person.

"Heavy lifters do need more total protein during the day, and therefore, they might need their protein serving soon after lifting than a person doing yoga who doesn't have protein needs that are quite as high. It becomes a timing thing—fitting in servings of protein," explains Spano. "The heavy lifter will need more protein per serving and most likely more servings also. This depends on their total daily protein needs, which are based on body weight or ideal body weight." (For reference, the general rule is that you should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, according to Harvard Health Publishing by Harvard Medical School.)

For example, if your goal is hypertrophy, research shows that more protein is needed for muscle growth and repair after heavy lifting: According to a 2017 systematic review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which looked at more than 1,800 participants and their strength training goals, the ideal daily protein intake for increasing muscle size is 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Anything beyond that number doesn't contribute to building more mass and strength.

How many grams of protein is that per day? For example, if you weigh 135 pounds, you would convert your weight into kilograms by dividing it by 2.2. Then, you would multiply that number by 1.6. The result is you would need to consume 98 grams of protein daily for the best muscle-building results.

However, if you're looking to build lean muscle and lose fat, then a calorie deficit with higher protein intake is ideal, says Spano. "If someone wants to lose fat and build lean mass, they are cutting their calories, which means they need even more protein (to decrease muscle breakdown), possibly up to 2.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per day or more," she says.

Science backs this up: A 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that, when combined with resistance training and HIIT, a daily diet containing 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight was more effective in promoting fat loss and maintenance of lean body mass (aka muscle) than a lower protein intake of 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

The bottom line? It doesn't matter so much whether you drink a protein shake before or after a workout—or if you even drink a protein shake at all. What is important is to consume protein throughout the day and vary your protein sources to ensure you're giving your body the proper nutrients it needs to rebuild your muscles and make them stronger. Adding a variety of lean protein sources, such as chicken, fish, grass-fed beef, dairy, eggs, and beans will help you reach your recommended daily protein intake. But sometimes, eating sufficient amounts of protein can be difficult, so using protein powders in your shakes and smoothies is a great way to ensure you meet your needs.

 

 

 

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