Protein. You either eat/supplement with it way too much or way too little. If you were anything like me when I first got a love for the weights and looking better naked, I was simply taking too much protein for no extra benefit.
So, what’s the BEST for you to take daily to MAXIMISE your Muscle & Fat Loss Gains? (Or getting Lean/Toned, whatever way you interpret it, we’re pretty much after the same goal.)
So take a minute to leave your Protein shake down, because here’s what you’re gonna learn:
– Best Amount of Protein to take for you to maximise (the potential for) Muscle Gains
– The Best amount of meals to eat then per day based off this
– Why Protein Quality matters
– Your Takeaways
Like any video or blog you read from me or anyone else, keep an open mind enough that at least you can formulate your own opinion. Everything you’ll read below will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS come back to ‘what works for YOU.’
I.E: If eating ‘X’ amount of Meals/day would be considered ‘optimal’ for muscle gain – you need to find what’s optimal for YOUR days. Aiming to eat ‘X’ amount when it’s unrealistic or just doesn’t fit into your schedule is stupid & stressful, don’t do that.
So, keep that in mind.
BEST AMOUNT OF PROTEIN TO TAKE
Firstly, I need to give a shout out to three people here who really made my views on this concrete & directed me in the right areas to review the right papers & formulate my own opinions. So a big shout out to Eric Helms, Danny Lennon & Menno Henselmans.
So.. from the word go I heard about the 1g/lb of bodyweight Protein target, I didn’t question it and did it for a couple of years. And while it wasn’t ‘bad’ or anything, I just didn’t really need it to ‘maximise’ my gains.
This never get’s old 😂
So what IS Optimal then for body composition?
Bearing in mind, research has been done on a vast mix of Advanced Bodybuilders as compared to Novice bodybuilders & studies where they looked at test subjects training 1.5hours a day, 6 days per week – And STILL the following recommendations can be concluded from them all.
This also goes if you’re ‘cutting’ or ‘lean gaining’ – the same recommendations seem to be enough.
So to recap so far:
– 1g/lb of BW isn’t needed.
– 0.82g/lb of BW is enough to maximise gains for body composition
WHAT WE (USUALLY) DO
So if we know that 0.82g/lb (or 1.8g/kg) of bodyweight is ‘enough’ I still like to ‘err’ a bit above this with some clients down to the fact that we AIM for it in ballpark ranges.
What I mean by that is, we (mostly) shoot for 1g per pound of TARGET Bodyweight which we individually work out with our clients based off a number of factors. (Goals, Current Body Fat, Lifestyle, Activity etc. etc.)
So let’s say I’m 200lbs and I need to drop ‘X’ amount of bodyfat to hit my goal, which results in a BW of 180lbs.
So here I’ll aim for 170-180grams of Protein Daily. Again, just a ballpark.
When you do the math with the 0.82g/lb recommendations, it comes to 164 grams of Protein.
So close enough if you ask me.
But here’s why we do it too;
- This way, if we’re off by a bit it’s still fine because we’ll still probably be in the 0.82g/lb of BW range anyway. Because we KNOW (8) that protein breakdown increases when we’re in a caloric deficit as more protein is used for Energy.
- There’s a CONSTANT daily reminder there of a target bodyweight to subconsciously work towards.
- If we loosely track macro/calorie intake – it’s better to have ballpark ranges than exact pinpointed figures.
Now, saying that, for our Clients that are Busy parents with Busy lifestyles, we AIM for the following ranges to be at LEAST within;
1.5g/kg – 1.8g/kg
I know it sounds awkward having a few different ranges but we do this individually for every client, dependant on their Life 🙂
Because the Lads & Ladies we coach are NOT elite athletes or bodybuilders & they just want to look better naked.
They want to eat the foods they love and enjoy the occasional drink so who cares about not being in the range everyday.
So to recap;
– If you’re really into your Training & Building Muscle – We shoot for 1g/lb (or 2.2g /kg) of Target Bodyweight.
– If you train to look better with the top off, not have a beer belly & just be healthier/more energy overall – Aim for the 1.5g-1.8g/kg range.
SO, 6 MEALS THEN RIGHT?
Like the 1g/lb of BW myth, 6 Meals is not needed.
So here’s what we do know –
(Image Courtesy of Danny Lennons Sigma Nutrition Weekend Apr 16)
BUT – Remember, Muscle Protein Synthesis, isn’t the ‘be-all and end-all’ in terms of Muscle Gain. Again, I’ve Danny to thank for further bringing Clarity to this for my own understanding;
Now we can move on,
– So, this 2.5-3 grams of Leucine equates to 25-30grams of Protein to maximise this Per Meal. (10)
So with Muscle Protein Synthesis ‘dropping’ off after 2-3 hours, it’s probably best to space meals 4-6hours apart. So here, just spread out your daily intake over 3-5 meals. (11)
Again this 3-5 meal guideline NEEDS to;
1: Suit you and your lifestyle. Would 4 suit better than 3? Will 2 big meals suit you better? Maybe it does – Again, nothing will ever be optimal if it doesn’t work for you. 4 ‘might’ be better than 2 for gaining muscle, but if 2 works best for you, then that’s what’s optimal right now for you.
2: Be in line with your Goals. I.E: If someone was a bodybuilder, we’d aim for the 4-5 meal range. Otherwise for the person wanting to just look better naked 3 will be fine.
Again – it will come back to preference, your lifestyle and your goals here.
So to Recap:
– Spread your Total Daily Intake of Protein out over 3-5 Meals. That number of meals is up to you. But at the end of the day, total intake is the most important factor.
– If you prefer to get more Protein in after your Workout and later on in the day for example, go for it. It doesn’t have to be evenly spaced amounts at each meal. I will say thought, aim to get at least has 30grams of Protein per Meal.
IT’S NOT ‘JUST’ PROTEIN
Lastly it’s handy to know the protein amounts in certain foods and settle the debate about the ‘Protein’ in nuts/plant based foods. (12)
But again, we’re NOT just looking for the protein amount, the proper Amino Acid profile needs to be there too, remember above, you need 2.5-3grams of Leucine to maximise Muscle Protein Synthesis so we want to aim for this in the Protein meal we’re eating.
So this is where the Plant-Based Eaters argue with that there’s ‘enough’ protein in the likes of Broccoli & Quinoa but let’s take a deeper look.
150g of Chicken Breast is equal to;
– 162 k/cal
– 33.5grams of Protein with 2.8grams of Leucine
And to get the SAME Leucine Content from Quinoa you’ll need 340grams of uncooked quinoa to hit the same 2.8g/leucine which equates to;
– 1251 k/cal
– 48grams of Protein with 2.8grams of Leucine
So, you’ll have to eat a damn lot to get the same amounts, which is pointless because you have to jump from 162 k/cal to 1251 k/cal just to get to do that.
Again – that’s just a small eye opener in selecting the right foods getting your Protein in daily.
Lastly – here’s a basic list of high-leucine containing Protein Sources:
– 1.8g/kg of Bodyweight of Protein is enough for ‘most’ people. (Aim for the 2.0-2.3g/kg range when dropping body fat is my only other point here)
– 3-5 Meals is enough.
– Know your Protein Sources.
– Go get your Gainz’
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1: Henselmans, M. (2012) ‘The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders’, http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/
2: Hoffman, R, J. et al. (2006) ‘Effect of Protein Intake on Strength, Body Composition and Endocrine Changes in Strength/Power Athletes’, J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2129168/
3:Tarnopolsky, M,A. et al. (1992) ‘Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes’, J Appl Physiol (1985),1992 Nov;73(5):1986-95; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1474076
4: Lemon, P, W. et al. (1992) ‘Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders’, J Appl Physiol (1985). 1992 Aug;73(2):767-75. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1400008
5: Philips, SM. & Van Loon, LJ (2011) ‘Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation’, J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425
6: Tarnopolsky MA, Mac Dougall JD, Atkinson SA. (1988) ‘Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass’, J Appl Physiol (1985). 1988 Jan;64(1):187-93; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3356636
7: Pikosky, MA, et al. (2008) ‘Increased protein maintains nitrogen balance during exercise-induced energy deficit’, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Mar;40(3):505-12; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18379214
8: ‘Macronutrient intakes as determinants of dietary protein and amino acid adequacy‘. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15173435
9: Danny Lennon Sigma Nutrition Weekend
10: ‘Role of protein and amino acids in promoting lean mass accretion with resistance exercise and attenuating lean mass loss during energy deficit in humans’, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23645387
11: ‘Optimal protein intake to maximize muscle protein synthesis’, https://www.biolayne.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/Norton-J-Ag-Food-Ind-Hi-Tech-2008.pdf
12: ‘Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA’ implications for optimizing health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26960445