May 9th, 2013
FMF Blog: Protein Requirements for Athletes and General Fitness Clients – part II
Part one we spent time explaining the importance, in relation to achieving results, of protein intake when coupled with athletic and fitness training. During part II I will break down the numbers a bit more by explaining the importance of obtaining your optimal level of protein and Essential Amino Acids (EAA) intake.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein of normal individuals is 0.8 g/kg body weight per day (1). This amount of protein is not a desirable level for active individuals whom are engaged in athletic and fitness training. Strength training individual’s daily protein intake ranges on average from 1.6 to 2.8 g/kg of protein per day (2). This range is vast and excessive. I like to say that it leads to “expensive urine.” In fact, large intakes of protein, 2.8 g/kg per day, have shown to result in high amounts of protein oxidation with little to no anabolic effects (2). For strength athletes creating an anabolic environment within the body is essential in order to make gains within the weight room. For fitness enthusiasts creating an anabolic state within their body can be the difference between 14-16% body fat versus 18-20% body fat. For athletes creating an anabolic environment within the body is necessary in creating vital adaptations. My point is that no matter what activities you are engaged in be sure that your protein levels are not too high but are not too low; optimal protein intake is essential to properly stimulate muscle growth and recovery.
Research has supported daily protein requirements ranging from 1.2 – 1.5 g/kg per. This range was shown successful for more advanced persons. For less advanced individuals research has shown a daily protein value ranging from 1.5 – 1.8 g/kg per day (3). These values come as a surprise to most, including myself when I first researched them. The populist belief is that more advanced persons require more protein. Keep in mind that this cannot take into account individuals who train numerous times per day or with higher training volumes. This study does showcase that massive quantities of protein is not as advantageous as previous thought.
Large quantity of proteins may not be all that important, but nearly all research supports that more muscle requires more EAA’s. The interesting fact is that some research has shown EAA’s can double anabolic stimulus (4). Most believe that protein powder does this. Powder can do this as long as it contains a larger amount of the BCAA Leucine around workouts.
Relating this to your workouts, ingesting 40g of protein in your post-workout shake is unnecessary and extremely expensive. Instead, ingest 6-10g of protein pre- workout and 20-25 grams post-workout. Include BCAA or EAA’s supplementation pre, intra, and post workout (≈10g post-workout). Everyone must supplement with Essential Amino Acids (EAA) and BCAA’s. EAA’s have shown significant results in creating an anabolic response within one’s body. And lastly, choose roughly 1.0 – 1.5 g/kg body weight of carbohydrates within 30 minutes of your workout. Post-workout should include a higher number of high glycemic carbohydrates. The combination of all three ingredients will help offset muscle damage and promote resynthesis and growth.
So what is the takeaway here? You may be ingesting too much protein for optimal total body protein synthesis. I would recommend ingesting at least 1.6 – 1.8 g/kg bodyweight of protein per day for serious fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and strength athletes. The more you train the more protein you require. However, the next time somebody tells you to pack in 50-60 grams of protein into your post-workout shake laugh and point them our way.
1. Food and Nutrition Board.
Recommended Intakes for Individuals, Macronutrients.
Institute of Medicine: Washington, DC, 2010.
2. Staron RS, Karapondo DL, Kraemer WJ, Fry AC, Gordon SE, Falkel JE, Hagerman FC, and Hikida RS.
Skeletal muscle adaptations during early phase of heavy-resistance training in men and women.
Journal of Applied Physiology 76: 1250-52, 1994.
3. Lemon PW.
Dietary protein requirements in athletes.
Journal of Nutrition Biochemistry 8: 55-58, 1997.
4. Campbell WW, Crim MC, Young VR, Joseph LJ, and Evans WJ.
Effects of resistance training and dietary protein intake on protein metabolism in older adults.
American Journal of Physiology 68: E1145 – E1150, 1995.
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