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Powered by Protein | Muscle & Body Magazine

Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, and a necessity to any good supplement regimen. You probably already knew that, but do you know precisely how much protein you should be consuming to support your muscle mass or gain more muscle?

Chances are, you’re confused by a lot of conflicting advice about the amount of protein your body needs. I’m going to set the record straight and show you exactly how much protein you should ingest based on hard facts and scientific evidence.

Are You In The 2.5%?

Let’s first look at protein metabolism and habitual intakes. Proteins are made up of amino acids that serve to stimulate growth and protein synthesis. There are two types of amino acids: essential (EAAs) and nonessential (non-EAAs). The body can synthesize non-EAAs, while EAAs must be acquired from the diet.

Research from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) found that in order for the body to reach protein equilibrium, synthesized protein (EAAs) needs to restore the “continually degrading body protein.” If the body does not take in adequate amounts of non-EAAs to balance the equation, “the rate of protein synthesis cannot match the rate of protein degradation.” This, of course, can lead to a loss in strength, body mass and athletic performance. According to the same research, “the current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein for the normal population is 0.8 g/kg [2.2 lb] body weight per day.”

It’s important to take into consideration that the RDA only covers 97.5% of the population. The fact that you are reading this publication probably means that you are now or are aspiring to be included in the 2.5% of the population that is not covered within this recommended protein allowance. Recreational bodybuilders, athletes and others who are trying to achieve lean body mass will differ in how much protein is needed to be consumed.

For an athlete, “habitual protein intakes range from 1.6–2.8 g/kg body weight per day, averaging 2 g/kg body weight per day.” Clearly, this is a “considerable increase in protein consumption” when compared to the RDA of 0.8 g/kg. But it’s also important to identify what is meant by “body weight.” In regards to grams/kilograms per body weight, lean body weight is the correct weight to use. For example, you may be 180 lb but have a lean body weight of 130 lb, with 50 lb that’s fat, bone and fluid. In that case, 130 lb would be used when considering your adequate protein intake, not the total 180 lb.

Scan For Your Protein Plan

In order to accurately define your own lean body mass, a DXA scan is a great way to determine body composition. DXA (dual X-ray absorotiometry) scans use sophisticated X-ray technology to measure bone-mineral density. However, [we] use them to measure overall body composition as well.

A DXA scan can determine the amount of lean muscle tissue down to the gram. We’ve found that sedentary people can use 0.5 g of protein per pound of lean body weight, while someone who is moderately active (working out every other day) may require 0.75 g of protein per pound of lean body weight. An individual who is very active (working out six days a week doing both weightlifting and cardio exercise) may require upward of 1 g of protein per pound of lean body weight, or possibly more, which should be determined with the help of a licensed dietitian.

In regards to nutrition, [U use] a resting energy expenditure (REE) test to learn how many calories a day you’re burning while at rest. This number is roughly equal to 65% of total energy expenditure. Once you have that number, our nutritionist uses all the calculations to build a healthy, workable meal plan based on an individual’s goals.

As a rough guideline, a novice athlete should consume 20 g of protein immediately after resistance exercise. This amount has been shown to induce optimal muscle protein synthesis. Any intake greater than 20 g will result in an increase of protein oxidation. Also important to add with protein consumption is an adequate carbohydrate, which aids in glycogen resynthesis.

The Postworkout Window

You’ve read it all before: It is essential to consume protein at least 30 minutes postworkout to prevent muscle breakdown. This same research shows that delaying protein consumption postworkout, sometimes by two hours, can have a significant negative effect on muscle hypertrophy, meaning you’re more likely to burn off that muscle as opposed to repairing and rebuilding it. It’s important to note, however, that the subjects in this study were elderly and not athletes, but it should still serve to show you the negative effects that withholding postworkout protein can have on the body.

The evidence found by the NSCA suggests, “ingestion of 6 g of protein in conjunction with 35 g of carbohydrate before exercise, 40 g coupled with 6 g of EAA during exercise, and 1.5 g/kg body weight of carbohydrate together with 20 g of protein within the first 30 minutes post-exercise has shown to increase recovery and maximize adaptive process within the muscle assuming overall daily protein requirements will be met.”

If you take into account everything you have just read and apply it to your daily diet, you should be on track to achieve your muscle-building goals. As always, it is important to research your own dietary needs, and to speak with a doctor to make sure your heart is healthy enough to endure resistance exercise.via Powered by Protein | Muscle & Body Magazine.