How Much Protein Should I Be Eating?
A rallying cry for muscle building and fat loss the world over, protein tends to be the big man on campus when it comes to bringing your nutrition in line with a fitness program. No doubt, protein is an essential nutrient for building muscle and juicy steaks can be awesome but many people- especially if they’re new to the concept of building muscle- have the question of how much protein should they be eating?
First things first- the current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36g per pound of body weight. That means is for every 100 pounds you weigh, you should plan on eating 36 grams of protein or the equivalent of 1.5 chicken breasts. However, these RDA figures are the lowest amount of protein intake needed… for people who aren’t active or seeking to maximize muscle mass or athletic performance. If you’re reading this, chances are that’s not you.
For the active- those who stress and damage muscle with physical activity- the general rule has been about 1.0g per pound of body weight. But while this amount has been an “ok” ballpark starting point, the body of research seems to support .86g per pound of body weight as the upper end of protein intake as effective for gaining muscle. Anything above, doesn’t seem to have any additional benefit.
If you’re not all about those “muscle gains” and have a goal of cutting fat while retaining muscle, that 1lb. rule is a pretty good starting point… with a few exceptions.
So how much protein should YOU be eating? A few things to consider:
- Caloric Intake- Depending on your caloric goals, protein will increase or decrease. Protein should generally increase as a caloric deficit increases and decrease as calories increase. The general rule of thumb being .86 g per pound if you’re looking to put on weight and build muscle while 1-1.2 if your goal is to lose weight and cut fat.
- Lean Body Mass (determined against your body fat %)- Usually this is based off of body weight because Lean Body Mass is harder to implement but the higher your body fat percentage, the lower your protein needs generally are.
- How Long You’ve Been Training- As your training experience increases, your protein needs can decrease.
In short, your ideal protein intake is dependent on a number of variables. Consulting a fitness professional will help you get dialed and Kubex Fitness stands ready to help.
In the meantime, you’ll definitely want to factor in more protein than you’re probably used to but don’t go overboard. While protein aids in muscle support and growth, knowing how much you need, while allowing for other critically important macronutrients like carbs and fats, will go a long way toward sustainability and sticking with your new nutritional goals.