Here is how much protein you need each day

  • by

If you are a youth sport participant or an active adult you will need to exceed the recommended dietary allowance of protein each day to ensure recovery and increased long term performance.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight or 0.36 grams per lb.

The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements and is the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day. To read more about RDA click HERE.

If your goal is increasing or even maintaining muscle mass, you should plan to consume somewhere in the range of 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kg body weight each day (0.63-0.90 grams per lb)

Some of the research I have seen puts this number at 1.6 grams per kg protein per day (0.72 grams per lb).

This is likely much higher than what you are accustomed to. So how do you get there?

The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) provides some key findings that I have highlighted below.

The following bullet-points summarize in my own words some of the key research on protein consumption and requirements from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). To view the full research article, click HERE.

  • When you strength train your body breaks down muscle tissue- the goal is to build it back stronger. You need protein to do this.
  • You need a much higher amount of protein than the recommended daily allowance.
  • Some newer research has shown that very high protein diets help with maintaining lean body mass and decreasing body fat.
  • Regular frequent dosage of 20-40g of protein is better than one to two larger meals with high protein.
  • Consume complete proteins and sources with high leucine content.
  • Have smaller, more frequent meals with high protein.
  • The 60-minute anabolic window is somewhat of a myth. At the same time, consume protein post workout where possible.
  • It can be difficult to reach your protein targets. After exhausting all the natural whole food sources of protein in your diet [while staying within your calorie range]
  • consider using protein bars, powders etc.
  • Whey protein isolate powders is one of the best options for post workout protein needs.
  • What you see on the label is not always 100% of what your body can actually break down and utilize.
  • Eat complete protein sources when possible.
  • Consume a 2:1 blend of carbohydrate to protein post-workout to help kickstart recovery.
  • Slower digesting protein sources like casein powders can be a good option to consume prior to bedtime.

ISSN KEY POINTS

An acute exercise stimulus, particularly resistance exercise, and protein ingestion both stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and are synergistic when protein consumption occurs before or after resistance exercise.

For building muscle mass and for maintaining muscle mass through a positive muscle protein balance, an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.4–2.0 g protein/kg body weight/day (g/kg/d) is sufficient for most exercising individuals, a value that falls in line within the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range published by the Institute of Medicine for protein.

There is novel evidence that suggests higher protein intakes (>3.0 g/kg/d) may have positive effects on body composition in resistance-trained individuals (i.e., promote loss of fat mass).

Recommendations regarding the optimal protein intake per serving for athletes to maximize MPS are mixed and are dependent upon age and recent resistance exercise stimuli. General recommendations are 0.25 g of a high-quality protein per kg of body weight, or an absolute dose of 20–40 g.

Acute protein doses should strive to contain 700–3000 mg of leucine and/or a higher relative leucine content, in addition to a balanced array of the essential amino acids (EAAs).

These protein doses should ideally be evenly distributed, every 3–4 h, across the day.

The optimal time period during which to ingest protein is likely a matter of individual tolerance, since benefits are derived from pre- or post-workout ingestion; however, the anabolic effect of exercise is long-lasting (at least 24 h), but likely diminishes with increasing time post-exercise.

While it is possible for physically active individuals to obtain their daily protein requirements through the consumption of whole foods, supplementation is a practical way of ensuring intake of adequate protein quality and quantity, while minimizing caloric intake, particularly for athletes who typically complete high volumes of training.

Rapidly digested proteins that contain high proportions of essential amino acids (EAAs) and adequate leucine, are most effective in stimulating MPS.

Different types and quality of protein can affect amino acid bioavailability following protein supplementation.

Athletes should consider focusing on whole food sources of protein that contain all of the EAAs (i.e., it is the EAAs that are required to stimulate MPS).

Endurance athletes should focus on achieving adequate carbohydrate intake to promote optimal performance; the addition of protein may help to offset muscle damage and promote recovery.

Pre-sleep casein protein intake (30–40 g) provides increases in overnight MPS and metabolic rate without influencing lipolysis.