While it’s certainly possible to get all the protein you need through a normal diet consisting of whole foods, some people (most notably athletes) simply can’t keep up with the rule that says you have to eat 0.45 to 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight, per day, in order to keep your nitrogen balance positive, as well as boost your recovery efficiency and the synthesizing of new muscle tissue.
Most people use supplements just because of one reason – to get enough protein. Also, the amount of protein your body needs can change depending on what your target is, as well as the activities you take part in. If you want to make as much lean muscle as possible to boost your aesthetics or increase your performance, you will need much more protein than someone that just wants to help their body recover between workouts.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition provides certain rules and guidelines on protein consumption, as regarded in connection with different sports and activities. The amount specified by the ISSN can be ingested in your system through regular whole foods or food combined with a supplement that provides protein, such as whey powder.
For Inactive, Healthy Adults – 0.36 Grams of Protein for Every Pound of Body Weight, Per Day.
The cells in your body are constantly regenerating and creating new version of themselves, which is why if you’re an inactive but healthy adult you need about 0.35 grams of protein for every pound of your body weight, every day. Also, you need this protein to maintain your nitrogen balance.
However, if you eat more protein than this, you will also reap some benefits, such as feeling full for longer periods of time. This effect can cause your body to reduce its appetite, stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce the total number of calories you eat per day. Over the course of a longer period of time, you will actually lose body fat and weight because you eat more protein.
Also, protein requires more energy to digest and utilize through absorption in your system – this burns even more calories, meaning that protein has a higher thermic effect than other macronutrients.
For Strength and Weight Training Athletes – 0.72 to 1.00 Grams of Protein for Every Pound of Body Weight, Per Day.
If you’re a bodybuilder, weight trainer or you practice any kind of sport where you need more power or strength than normal, you will need to eat 0.72 to 1.0 grams of protein for every pound of your bodyweight, daily (some nutrition experts advise to go even higher with the protein consumption).
As an athlete, you need to have a positive nitrogen balance because a sport that needs you to have incomparably more lean muscle mass than body fat will also create more muscle damage (microtears) during exercise. If you want to be able to recover from this damage, you will need a positive nitrogen balance.
Maintaining your bodily environment in an anabolic state means that you will need to eat more protein than your body can use up, which is why the athletes that practice something that needs them to be stronger, bigger and more powerful than other people need more protein than other athletes who don’t.
This is because you need a lot of protein to boost your repair efforts to the maximum, to keep your positive nitrogen balance, to improve your hypertrophic response and to shorten your recovery period. If your muscles are bigger than usual, they’re not only nicer to look at, but they also give an advantage to athletes who take part in sports like football and rugby.
When you have a bigger cross-sectional area, you are able to exert more power during your movements. You can push, pull, sprint and pretty much do everything better than people with a smaller cross-sectional area. To sum up, if you want to pack as much lean muscle on your body as humanly possible, keep eating this amount of protein to achieve that. If you just want to maintain what you have though, you can manage with less.
For Aerobic and Endurance Athletes – 0.45 to 0.72 Grams of Protein for Every Pound of Body Weight, Per Day.
If you’re a distance runner or a cyclist, you won’t relate much to athletes that train for strength and power. If you have more muscle than necessary, it’s considered a disadvantage because you need more energy to move it and you can move with much greater efficiency with smaller muscles. Also, your strength to weight ratio goes haywire and you need that if you want to be a successful performance athlete.
Performance athletes favor quicker muscle repair and shorter recovery periods to muscle growth, which is why they need more protein than people who don’t exercise but less than people who exercise for strength and power. Besides muscle growth and repair, the branched chain amino acids that come from consuming protein can be used as a source of fuel in longer periods of aerobic activity.
The ISSN says that the amount of protein necessary per day for aerobic and endurance athletes depends on the level of intensity and length of the workout period, but also on the physical characteristics on the individual.
If you’re an elite athlete training for endurance you will need more protein when coming to the higher end of the range. Also, as your endurance training gets longer and more intense, your body oxidizes more branched chain amino acids, which in turn makes it need more protein at the upper end of the range.
This means that when you train for endurance for a longer period of time and with increased intensity, you will need more protein. If you’re experiencing lower volume training like base training, you will need a smaller amount of protein.
For Stop and Go Sport Athletes – 0.63 to 0.77 Grams of Protein for Every Pound of Body Weight, Per Day.
Unfortunately, people who do crossfit, MMA or play soccer have a lot less research to base their protein intake on, since science has largely concentrated on the macronutrient needs of endurance and strength athletes.
These activities consist of a combination of endurance, power, strength and stop and go movement. The ISSN recommends 0.63 to 0.77 grams of protein for every pound of body weight daily, which should be more than enough to make sure your body recovers, keeps its muscles and even build new muscle tissue.
For Vegetarians – 0.90 Grams of Protein for Every Pound of Body Weight, Per Day.
Plant-based protein will give you less protein and essential amino acids when compared gram-for-gram with animal sources such as meats or dairies. Because of this, if you’re an athlete who is also a vegetarian or a vegan you should eat 0.90 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily to help with your recovery processes as well as to build new muscle tissue. If you’re cutting calories, you should increase the protein intake to 1-1.2 grams to keep your existing muscle mass. Without protein, your body will quickly enter the catabolic state where it breaks down muscles for protein, to be used as energy.
All in all, your protein intake should be 10 to 15 percent of your total daily calorie intake if you’re an inactive person. However, if you do sports or activities that require extra endurance, power or strength, you will need more. The International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that people who exercise should consume 0.63 to 1.00 grams of protein for every pound of body weight daily.
When doing endurance exercises, you should look in the lower half of this range, for stop and go exercises such as MMA, soccer and crossfit use the middle range, and when training for strength and power you should utilize the top of this range.