As a nutritionist and athlete, the most frequent question I get asked is, how much protein do I need? This question is relatively easy to answer compared to the, what should I eat, impossible to answer question, simply because as we are all unique snowflakes, and what to eat varies from person to snowflake.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of conducting a nutrition workshop for a local fitness gym. I designed the lesson plan according to what the members had requested, this included nutrition concepts regarding metabolism of carbs, protein and fats; other topics included, how to read a nutrition label, carbohydrate timing pre-post training, and label claims. The last topic was more specific…What protein supplement is good to take? I read this question two ways: “I don’t know how much protein I need”, and “I am confused about protein supplements”. Thus, with much excitement, I delved into designing that section of the workshop to best answer the question(s). However, a interesting thought came up, or rather a paradox of protein consumption among the “active” and sedentary populations.
Read Below for Protein Requirement Details
We are all unique snowflakes. That being said again. The standard requirement for a non active adult, termed sedentary, for protein can be determined by multiplying weight in KG by .8 grams (protein). For an average size male (guess around, 175), or female (135) that is 50 – 60 grams of protein daily, this is considered the minimum. For the active adult, active meaning engaging in physical activity on a consistent weekly basis totaling around the 150 min mark of low intensity, think aerobic type training, or 75 min. of high intensity training, think sprinting, that protein requirement can jump as high as 1.8 grams, so for the female 135 and male 175 that’s 110-143…yeah, it jumps that much higher.
Now, Here Comes the Paradox
As the literature of average protein consumption among adults states, there is a clear over consumption of protein from all sources, now this due to advent of the Western Diet, that consists of red and process meats, as well as eggs, and dairy at nearly every meal turn. Breakfast: three eggs, bacon, sausage. Lunch: deli ham sandwich with salami, cheese, ham, and probably more bacon. Dinner: Fast food of KFC, or McDs of all meat/triple patty burgers in between two chicken breasts(its probably a real thing!). All just an example, of how much protein overkill a plausible Western diet can consist of…and they didn’t even jog to the fast food place! Now as a person becomes more involved with fitness, i.e. runs, joins a gym, attends group classes; their eating patterns starts to shift as they become more mindful of what they are eating: eating smaller portions, salads, and skipping desert for examples. Another interesting thing happens…their protein consumption goes down, or rather veggies and fruits become the stars, which is AWESOMENESS! Red meat consumption also tends to plummet, as the saturated from the meat becomes a losing weight antagonist. However, the protein is the innocent bystander that doesn’t get replaced. So…protein requirements are not being meet by the active person.
A side note: eggs, and dairy also get the mug shot of being “bad”, due to cholesterol (click here for the truth to that myth), and peoples vendetta against cows milk (for many reasons discussed in a future blog).
So as it goes, runners, weight lifters, group fitness members, and all active people in between…EAT PROTEIN!!! You will build more lean body mass, which leads to a more defined athletic build, and better recovery from workouts, so you can hit the gym harder, because you recovered faster!!