What is it? Why do you need it? How much do you need?
Put very simply protein is essential- if you don’t eat enough then your body will cannibalise its own lean tissue in order to gain access to the amino acids it requires. Cannibalism isn’t good, people get hurt.
Here are the benefits of eating protein
Protein builds muscle- even if you just want to look good in Yoga pants you need to be on board with building muscle.
Prevents muscle breakdown- what’s the point of building something that gets torn down again?
Fills you up- Satiety is the make or break factor in most diets.
Creates Enzymes and Neurotransmitters, for trivial things like digestion and feeling.
How much do you need?
The science shows that you really don’t need more than 0.8 grams per lb of bodyweight, however for the sake of simplifying calculations I would advise anywhere between 0.8 and 1 grams of protein per kilo or per 1.6-1.8grams per kg of bodyweight.
Ideally we’d be calculating protein needs based on lean body mass levels, this works really well but it can be overly complex and fiddly to work out the numbers on this. So for fat loss clients I like to make things super simple.
Use your target BW to calculate your protein needs.
If you weigh 220 lbs but your goal is 200 lbs then you can easily jump in at between 160-200 grams of protein per day.
If you weigh 180 lbs but your goal is 140lbs then use between 112-140 grams of protein per day.
How much protein do you need to build muscle?
Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is dependent on a couple of factors. Firstly, total protein intake and secondly consuming sufficient leucine to trigger the MTOR pathway and allow MPS.
Leucine= amino acid that governs the MTOR signalling pathway
MTOR(mammalian target of rapamycin, you don’t need to remember this)= trigger for Muscle Protein Synthesis
So, to recap. Both total protein consumption and per meal leucine intake are important. Animal sources of protein contain decent amounts of the amino acid leucine. So if you are consuming animal sources of protein with some frequency through the day you will by and large not need to worry about this.
Aim for servings of 0.3g/kg of protein per meal
For an 80kg man this would mean 24 grams of protein per meal from an animal source in order to hit the leucine threshold.
60kg female this would mean at least 18 grams of protein per meal.
Consume enough in total over the course of the day.
Consume enough at each meal, (you can of course consume more than the levels above and there are some benefits to consuming larger amounts, such as reduced muscle protein breakdown).
Protein has 4 calories per gram
So male 100kg but wants to be 85kg
85kg x 2.2 = 187 lbs bodyweight
187lbs x 0.8 = 150 grams of protein
187x 1= 187 grams of protein
We have now established the boundaries for daily protein intake which we can adjust based on personal preference and hunger levels.
150 grams of protein is 600 calories
187 grams of protein is 748 calories
We need to divide the protein up in to multiple feedings:
If you prefer to eat 3 meals per day then you might opt for 50 grams of protein at each serving
If you prefer 4 meals per day then you might increase the protein to 160 grams and 40 at each serving.
It would be very impractical to try to eat 187 grams of protein in 2-3 meals- so a preference for a higher protein intake would require more meals from a practical standpoint.
Protein is important
Eat a decent amount
Multiple servings are better upto a point.
Simple Diet Setup:
1.Work out your target calories- useful reference here
2.Workout your protein intake
3.Divide Protein evenly between 3-5 meals according to preference-.
4.Total Calories- Protein calories= Carbs and Fat Allowance
5.Divide remaining calories according to preference
Example: Sedentary Female 150lbs want to be 130lbs
1.10 x 150 = 1500 calories
2.Protein intake=130x 0.8/1= 104 to 130 grams per day- choose a figure that best suits your appetite and personal preference- we’ll go with 120 here
- 120 over 4 meals = 30 grams per meal.
- Low carb approach- 50 grams for carbs = 200 calories, 90 grams of fat = 810 cals
Balanced Approach- 100 grams of carbs= 400 calories, 55 grams of fat =495 cals
Diet looks like this: 4 meals containing
Low Carb: 30 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs, 22.5 grams of fat
Balanced: 30 grams of carbs, 25 grams of carbs,14 grams of fat
Track progress and if it stalls then drop calories or increase activity.