How much protein do you really need?
With the rise of different eating plans, one of the most discussed points is the protein requirement of the average human. For the last 30 years, weight-loss coaches and dietitians have emphasized increasing your protein intake as a helpful tool in losing body-fat and increasing muscle-mass, because consuming more protein displaces fat and carbohydrates, builds
muscle and protein-containing foods generally keep you feeling full for longer. Recently, with the rise of plant-based diets that tend to be much lower in protein (without supplementation), it has become popular to question the higher protein recommendations.
The current Recommended Daily Allowance set by the American Dietary Guidelines, is only 0.8 grams per kg of body-weight, which is roughly 56 grams for an average male and 48 grams for an average female. This is the equivalent of one and a half chicken breasts, two cans of tuna, or about 9-10 eggs. In theory, this amount of protein can sustain a human being, but I believe it is far from adequate for active people, and it is a bare minimum even for an inactive person. In fact, The International Society of Sports Nutrition, in recently updated guidelines based on research, recommends up to 2.4-3 grams of protein per kilogram of body-weight, which for an average adult is 150-200 grams per day. Their recommendations take into consideration that research has found that:
1. higher protein intake makes it easier to lose body-fat and maintain muscle while dieting
2. athletes break down a lot of muscle while exercising intensely
3. building extra muscle takes a significant amount of protein
Interestingly, I myself have returned to a much higher daily protein intake recently, after experimenting with intermittent fasting. I'm finding that resuming the old "three square meals a day" routine after skipping breakfast for most of a year has resulted in much quicker recovery from exercise, and less fatigue during the day. If you have a budding athlete in the house, or yourself have questions about how much and what type of protein to eat, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can help you devise a plan to maximize your health and fitness goals and make sure your progress is uninterrupted.