Increasing the recommended daily protein intake from 1.5 – 2 grams per kg of body weight to 3-4 grams per kg (1.5-2g/lb) of bodyweight will not result in increasing the muscle mass and strength in bodybuilders and athletes according to a study. However, according to the same study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition the increased protein intake will result in greater reduction of body fat.
The Recommended Protein Intake
It is a common knowledge that the optimal growth of muscle mass in bodybuilders is achieved by consuming 1.5 to 2 g. of protein per each kg. of bodyweight. But what will happen to your body if you double the protein intake and consume “too much protein” ? Will it result in gaining more fat? Will it have negative impact on your overall health?
Research on consuming too much protein
According to the research performed at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, none of this will happen. The researchers set to answer these questions in an eight week study that included 48 young and healthy non-professional bodybuilders, who had at least few years of weight training under their belts and had been consuming the recommended intake of 2-2.2 grams per kg. of bodyweight.
They were divided into two groups. The first group resumed with the same protein intake, while the second group was asked to double the protein intake, without making any other drastic changes in their diet. In other words, their intake of carbs and fats remained the same. The subject were free to choose the protein source for their increased intake. Some of them consumed additional protein from supplements, while the rest consumed high protein foods.
At the same time, both groups continued their training using identical workout protocols.
During the course of this study, both groups increased their protein intake. Studying the table below, we notice that the group with normal protein intake increased the daily intake to 2.3 grams of protein per kg. of bodyweight. The second group upped their daily protein intake to 3.4 grams per kg. (1.7g per lb) of bodyweight. This increase also meant that they increased the total amount of consumed calories.
Results of the study
Interestingly enough the results of the study reveal that the increased protein intake had no effect on muscle growth. Namely, the increase of lean muscle mass remained the same in both the normal protein group and in the high protein group.
However, the subjects that had high protein intake recorded a drop of body fat percentage. This comes as some surprise, because the increased protein intake also increased their calorie consumption by 400 calories compared to the other group. This effect is probably a result of increasing the resting energy expenditure.
Both groups recorded increased strength gains. Although the group that consumed 2.3 g. of protein per kg. of bodyweight recorded slightly better strength gains, these differences were so small that they have no statistical value.
Both groups were subjected to medical examinations aimed at determining whether the increased protein intake had negative effect on their health. The results confirmed that the increased intake was not harmful for the body.
This study shows that eating “too much protein” or simply increasing the protein intake will not result in greater body fat. On the contrary. It also confirmed that the daily amount of 1.5–2.0 grams of protein per kg (0.75 g- 1.0 g per lb) body weight is sufficient for making muscle and strength gains, and that there is no need for increasing this amount.