The question that I am probably asked most often is, “How much protein should I consume daily?” I literally give protein advice to young athletes and active individuals dozens of times a week. Whether you are running, biking, lifting weights or participating in sports, you need to understand how protein repairs our bodies. An active body will expend more energy than a sedentary or inactive person, and thus, more protein and calories will be needed.
Before we calculate how much protein our body needs, it is very important to understand protein timing. Protein timing simply means to space out your protein consumption daily. This is very important because protein elevates nitrogen in your bloodstream, and nitrogen is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue.
When you consume protein, it begins to digest. As it digests through your body, it elevates your blood nitrogen levels for about 4 hours. This is why nutritionists advise eating multiple servings of protein daily. For optimal results, smaller doses of protein 4-5 times per day spaced 3-4 hours apart can double your lean muscle gains over a given period of time.
[Find a low-calorie, high protein shake recipe here.]
Protein needs of active individuals and athletes are obviously greater than that of non-athletes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend the following for power and endurance athletes and active individuals based on body weight: 1.2 to 1.7 grams/kilogram body weight per day (or in pounds, approximately 0.6 - 0.8 grams/pound of body weight). Many athletes simply round up and calculate 1 gram per pound of body weight. I prefer to use the pounds calculation as most of us are aware of our weight in pounds. So here are a few examples using the formula:
1. Very Active and weigh 180 lbs. – 180 lbs. x 0.8 = 144g of protein
2. Moderately Active and weigh 140 lbs. – 140 lbs. x 0.6 = 84g of protein
3. Competing Athlete and weigh 220 lbs. – 220 lbs. x 0.8 = 176g of protein
4. Intense Athletes – this one is a simple calculation – 1g of protein per lb. of body weight
Now calculate and divide your total protein consumption by 4 or 5 smaller meals throughout the day. If eating 5 smaller meals is simply not possible, then do four meals or snacks 4-5 hours apart. So, if you are example No. 2 above and are trying to eat four protein servings per day, then simply divide by four. So 84 grams of protein divided by 4 equals 21g of protein four times per day. This does not need to be exact, but it is a guideline. You may have a 15g protein bar for a snack, too, and that is OK – your nitrogen levels will still spike up. Also if you have a 30g protein lunch, it's OK. Just keep trying to space your protein in 4-5 servings or snacks throughout the day.
[Find a Protein Shake Recipe the whole family can enjoy here!]
Max Muscle has 150+ stores across the country and we specialize in educating our customers about protein timing and elevating nitrogen. Stop by your local Max Muscle store for more information regarding your diet, meal planning, weight loss/gain, etc. MS&F