Was that annoying guy with the protein shake right?
Does everyone need one gram per pound of protein?
Back in the nineties consuming this amount of protein was the law of the land, but we have learned over the last 30 years that the amount of protein you need really all comes down to YOUR GOAL.
My Fit Foods makes it so much easier and delicious to get the protein you need and our Nutritional Consultants can further dial in your nutrition by individualizing this amount to you.
Are you curious about how much protein that might be? Check out the evidenced-based breakdown by goal below.
Maximizing Muscle Gain:
If your goal is to maximize muscle gain, you likely want to be consuming at least 0.7-0.8 grams per pound per day, but more than that is unlikely to help you gain more muscle in the vast majority of circumstances. (Nerdy Nuance - It is possible that being more trained may actually lowers the amount of protein you need to still make optimal gains. This is essentially because you would be not be breaking down and building muscle to the same degree as someone who just started training, but the evidence here is limited and there is no real physiologic downside to covering your bet at 0.7-0.8 g/lb or above) [1-5]. The only reason I would potentially worry about eating too much protein on a bulk is if it displaced other macronutrients significantly enough to take someone out of an energy surplus.
If your goal is to gain muscle while simultaneously losing fat, all the studies we have are above 1.0 g/lb per day of protein or 1.3 to 1.4 g/lb of lean body mass [6-8]. Fat Loss without Losing Muscle: If your goal is fat loss and muscle maintenance, you may be able to take protein intake as low as ~0.45 to 0.6 g/lb with a significant amount of training and exercise on board [6, 9-11]. However, in most people I think it is likely still in their best interest to stay above 0.7-0.8 g/lb during a fat loss phase and why not try to shoot the moon and recomp anyways [12-16].
Weight and Muscle Maintenance with Endurance Training:
If you are not looking to lose or gain weight and just want to maintain muscle mass, and you are really into endurance training, you likely want to stay above 0.55 g/lb, and with higher endurance training volumes you may want to keep it above 0.6 to 0.7 g/lb [17-19].
Weight and Muscle Maintenance for Life:
If you are not looking to lose or gain weight and just want to maintain muscle mass for functionality throughout the life course, and you are under the age of 60, you may be able to take your protein intake as low as 0.45 g/lb . If you are over the age of 60, 0.55 g/lb per day is the lowest I would comfortably go [20, 21].
All of the above scenarios are built on the assumption that you are eating high-quality, complete protein sources like the ones we use at My Fit Foods.
If you are eating a more prototypical plant-based diet you would likely need more protein while also being mindful of food combinations to ensure a complete amino acid profile with enough leucine [20, 22].
For our weight loss clients, we prototypically do advocate for a higher protein approach because it looks like higher protein diets (0.6 to 0.7 g/kg or ~30% of calories) do outperform lower protein diets (0.35 g/lb or ~15% of calories) for weight loss [23, 24].
But, not everyone reading these emails is after weight loss and we want to honor that by providing you with the research-based numbers you need to meet your individual goals.
1. Morton, R.W., et al., A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med, 2018. 52(6): p. 376-384.
2. Morton, R.W., et al., Infographic. The effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength. Br J Sports Med, 2019. 53(24): p. 1552.
3. Bandegan, A., et al., Indicator Amino Acid-Derived Estimate of Dietary Protein Requirement for Male Bodybuilders on a Nontraining Day Is Several-Fold Greater than the Current Recommended Dietary Allowance. J Nutr, 2017. 147(5): p. 850-857.
4. Mazzulla, M., et al., Protein Intake to Maximize Whole-Body Anabolism during Postexercise Recovery in Resistance-Trained Men with High Habitual Intakes is Severalfold Greater than the Current Recommended Dietary Allowance. J Nutr, 2020. 150(3): p. 505-511.
5. Tinline-Goodfellow, C.T., et al., An Acute Reduction in Habitual Protein Intake Attenuates Post Exercise Anabolism and May Bias Oxidation-Derived Protein Requirements in Resistance Trained Men. Front Nutr, 2020. 7: p. 55.
6. Longland, T.M., et al., Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2016. 103(3): p. 738-46.
7. Campbell, B.I., et al., Effects of High Versus Low Protein Intake on Body Composition and Maximal Strength in Aspiring Female Physique Athletes Engaging in an 8-Week Resistance Training Program. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2018. 28(6): p. 580-585.
8. Haun, C.T., et al., Effects of Graded Whey Supplementation During Extreme-Volume Resistance Training. Front Nutr, 2018. 5: p. 84.
9. Pearson, A.G., et al., A hypoenergetic diet with decreased protein intake does not reduce lean body mass in trained females. Eur J Appl Physiol, 2021. 121(3): p. 771-781.
10. Bryner, R.W., et al., Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate. J Am Coll Nutr, 1999. 18(2): p. 115-21.
11. Borges, J.H., et al., Exercise training and/or diet on reduction of intra-abdominal adipose tissue and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2019. 73(7): p. 1063-1068.
12. Roberts, B.M., et al., Nutritional Recommendations for Physique Athletes. J Hum Kinet, 2020. 71: p. 79-108.
13. Stokes, T., et al., Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients, 2018. 10(2).
14. Hector, A.J. and S.M. Phillips, Protein Recommendations for Weight Loss in Elite Athletes: A Focus on Body Composition and Performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2018. 28(2): p. 170-177.
15. Mettler, S., N. Mitchell, and K.D. Tipton, Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2010. 42(2): p. 326-37.
16. Barakat, C., et al., Body Recomposition: Can Trained Individuals Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2020. 42(5): p. 7-21.
17. Kato, H., et al., Protein Requirements Are Elevated in Endurance Athletes after Exercise as Determined by the Indicator Amino Acid Oxidation Method. PLoS One, 2016. 11(6): p. e0157406.
18. Chapman, S., et al., Dietary Intake and Nitrogen Balance in British Army Infantry Recruits Undergoing Basic Training. Nutrients, 2020. 12(7).
19. Knuiman, P., et al., Protein and the Adaptive Response With Endurance Training: Wishful Thinking or a Competitive Edge? Front Physiol, 2018. 9: p. 598.
20. Traylor, D.A., S.H.M. Gorissen, and S.M. Phillips, Perspective: Protein Requirements and Optimal Intakes in Aging: Are We Ready to Recommend More Than the Recommended Daily Allowance? Adv Nutr, 2018. 9(3): p. 171-182.
21. Morton, R.W., et al., Defining anabolic resistance: implications for delivery of clinical care nutrition. Curr Opin Crit Care, 2018. 24(2): p. 124-130.
22. Rogerson, D., Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2017. 14: p. 36.
23. Leidy, H.J., et al., The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr, 2015.
24. Santesso, N., et al., Effects of higher- versus lower-protein diets on health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2012. 66(7): p. 780-8.