So How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

by Damon on July 25, 2012

Back in the day when I read health and body building magazines like Muscle & Fitness on a daily basis I know I read at least a thousand different times how you should eat as much protein as possible. They would then state the plethora of Protein - Meat on a Grillbenefits that protein provides to the body especially for those that were trying to pack on some muscle. The number I always remember being thrown around was 1 gram of protein for every pound you weighed (1g/lb). According to them this was the magic amount that would transform your body to the point that Greek gods would be jealous. So of course this is what I attempted to take in along with every other wannabe hard body in the country.

Back then I wasn’t in the habit of questioning what I read I simply believed that what the magazines were saying was the truth and as long as I followed their instructions I would ultimately get the body I always wanted. Well, luckily I have grown up a little since then and have started a new habit of thinking for myself at least most of the time. I now realize that most of those magazines I was reading were owned buy the same companies that made and sold supplements like protein powders. So the more protein they convinced the world to buy the more money they made and for the most part this is still true but the internet has leveled the playing field. Now instead of going out and paying five bucks for a magazine full of ads and half truths I can just search online for the real truth. And this is what I recently did with the question of how much protein I should be consuming for optimal results. What I found out was two things. The first being that all the benefits I read in those magazines were true and the second being that the 1g of protein per pound of body weight is a much higher number than it needs to be. And here’s the proof.

Have You Been Consuming Too Much Protein?

The first piece of evidence I found that contradicted the 1g/lb rule was this article from the Georgetown University web site, here’s the link. In this article, in case you don’t feel like reading it, it states that the Recommended Daily Allowance is .8 grams of protein for every 1 kilogram of body weight. So to figure out how much protein you need just divide your weight by 2.2 which will give you your weight in kilograms then multiply that number by 0.8 and this is how much protein you should be getting. According to this being that I weigh about 155lbs I should be getting about 105 grams of protein per day which is about 50 grams less than the 1g/lb rule. That’s a big difference.

Another source I found that was very similar to the Georgetown University article is this Men’s Health article that states “According to Mark Tarnopolasky, M.D., Ph.D., who studies exercise and nutrition at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, highly trained athletes thrive on 0.77 grams of daily protein per pound of body weight” Now this would mean that I would need about 119 grams a day still much lower than 1g/lb.

Then finally I found this very detailed article on Mennohenselmans.com that has more than a dozen references and states that “there are no advantages to having more than .82g/lb to preserve or build muscle and that there is no recorded advantage to having more than .64g/lb.” So the way my mind works is to take the average of these two numbers which equals .73g/lb and I should be good to go. So as you can see this would put the number really close to the one from the Men’s Health article above. And if you work out the numbers I would need about 113grams of protein per day.

So What Have We Really Learned?

Now if you are really interested in this topic I’m sure you could spend the better part of a week reading medical journals and other like material on the internet but really as you can see from this small sampling everyone has a different opinion based on different research. Each one is very close but not exact so I’ve come to the conclusion that I will take what I’ve read and go with my best judgment which is to go with the .73 from the last article mentioned above. The main reason being I really like how the guy did his research and had resources to back his opinions. Besides that if a highly trained athlete only needs .77 g/lb to thrive then I’m sure I don’t really need that much. I mean lets be honest most of us no matter how good of shape we think we are in we are not in the top physical shape of most athletes.

Are There Disadvantages to Too Much Protein?

Well the short answer is yes but the main ones that I am concerned with is that any excess protein that you consume will just be stored as fat. That and proteins are usually the most expensive food you will buy such as meat, nuts and if your into that kind of thing protein powders and bars.

I hope all of this has helped you with any questions you might have had about your own protein needs. And if you haven’t read the articles linked above a do recommend you do. There is a lot of interesting information to be learned from them, plus I don’t want you to take my opinion as a recommendation for what you do and don’t need. Thanks for reading.

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