How Much Protein Do You Really Need Anyways?
How Much Protein Do I Need??
Every month I get emailed about this topic…
“How much protein do I need to lose weight”
“Is [Insert Number] Enough Protein??”
“So-and-so said I need THIS much Protein… is this true!?!”
Everyone in the fitness industry has their own stance on this topic, and just like them, I too have a number that I recommend… but I’ll get to that here in a minute 😉
First, I want to make a couple of points about protein…
Is it really that important for weight loss? Are vegans missing out? Will I never lose weight if I don’t drink my chocolate protein milkshake??
After reading this article, I hope that all of your “Protein Ponders” will be answered…
First Point: Protein is a Business… MAN!
The Fitness Industry isn’t just a collective group of people in tight neon pants and sweat bands prancing along…
It’s a business.
This doesn't make everyone involved evil, but there are people out there who care more about getting your money than actually helping you.
The great thing about working out is that many approaches are effective. If you put in the effort, you’ll get results following CrossFit, powerlifting, Zumba, etc.
While some approaches are definitely better than others, simply moving more and becoming more active is going to help you lose weight and feel healthier.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the supplement side of the industry…
Some of the biggest money makers in the fitness industry are supplements… and they've been doing pretty well...
If the Vitamin Shoppe or GNC around every corner isn’t enough to convince you, simply type in “Protein Powder” into you google search bar and prepare to be presented with a plethora of sites claiming to have the “most advanced” or “purest” supplements available.
Here’s the problem: the majority of supplements are either minimally effective or simply don’t work!
I would venture to say that a good 90% of the supplements out there are going to provide you with zero benefits.
I don't want harp too long on supplements (I’ll probably write a full-blown article on them soon), so instead let’s just stick to protein powders to keep this article on track...
Now, the good news for protein powders is that they squeeze themselves into that 10% area of supplements that actually work!
However… it’s not because it has anything “special” about it.
Protein Powder is simply powdered food. (doesn’t sound very appealing when it’s look at that way huh?)
The most common form is Whey, which comes from dairy, but there is also many others forms such as pea, soy, egg, and casein.
What makes protein powder effective is simply the fact that it provides your body with protein, which is necessary to build muscle and can aid in fat loss (more on this later).
So while protein powders may be useful if you have trouble eating enough protein, don’t think that simply taking a protein powder is going to magically lead to more muscle and less fat.
You can absolutely get enough protein from a normal diet, and protein won’t matter if you aren’t training and working out in the first place.
Now, back to how protein is a business…
Because businesses are all about making money, it would make sense why supplement companies prescribe sky-high protein recommendations as well as tout the importance of the sacred “post-workout” shake.
So I guess the takeaway of this “point” is this…
Takeaway: There is money to be made with protein, so recommending outrageously high amounts of it to people makes perfect sense. Realize that these recommendations come from a place of making money more than actual scientific evidence.
Second Point: You May Not Need to Worry About Your Protein Intake.
Do you lift weights? Are you a strict vegan? Do you struggle with vitamin or mineral deficiencies found mostly in animal sources?
If you don’t lift weights regularly, you probably don’t need to worry about protein.
Note: This only applies if you are already eating a diet of mostly whole foods. If you are still eating primarily processed sugary foods, then you probably need more protein as well…
Protein’s main role is to repair/build tissues in the body. If you aren’t causing muscle breakdown through lifting weights, you don’t need extra protein to facilitate growth.
If you are a strict vegan, you may not be getting enough protein. Especially if you feel sluggish, weak, or have low muscle mass.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to start eating meat, It is definitely possible to get enough protein from non-meat sources. It does, however, require a little more discipline with your diet…
Are you deficient in Vitamins and Minerals found primarily in animal foods? Some of the biggies are B12, Zinc, and Iron.
If you experience any of the following:
- Chronically Tired
- Can't Sleep
- Poor Digestion
- Symptoms of Low Thyroid
...then you may want to increase your protein intake a bit as these are symptoms of deficiencies from vitamin and mineral found in meat sources.
Takeaway: Unless you are resistance training, a vegan, or are deficient in vitamins and minerals associated with meat products, worrying about your protein intake is probably not necessary.
So, How much Protein Do you Need?
Alrighty... the time has come.
Here is what I recommend for protein intake…
(As stated earlier, unless you are resistance training, vegan, or experiencing negative health complications due to deficiencies found commonly in meat, you probably are getting enough protein).
If you are resistance training specifically, you are going to need slightly more protein than what is generally recommended. I personally shoot for .64-.82g of protein per pound of bodyweight. This usually equals out to be around 100-120 g of protein a day.
Some days I get less, around 80g, and some days I get the upper end… it really just depends on what I am in the mood for or what's available to eat that day.
I do have a program I recommend for working out… especially if your goal is maximal weight loss. You can learn about it here if you're interested!
This recommendation of .64-.82g per pound of body weight is what I've found to be the general consensus on how much protein an active person needs to sustain and build muscle mass.
Here are some of the major resources I have used to come to this conclusion:
Can eating too much protein be a Bad Thing?
As good as protein is for building muscle and general health, there is definitely some negative side effects of eating too much.
For one, eating higher protein means fewer calories from carbohydrates and fats.
I’ve recently become more passionate about optimizing my hormones. Through extremely strict and reckless dieting, I completely wrecked my endocrine system and developed extremely low levels of Testosterone…
Proof: (127 ng/dL)
Because of this, I went to find how I could fix the imbalances I had. Through research and practices from resources like anabolicmen.com and testshock.com, I was able to bring my levels back into the normal range.
In terms of hormone optimization, protein is the LEAST important macronutrient…
In fact, studies have shown that higher protein diets actually lead to lower levels of testosterone…
This was definitely the case for me. during my weight loss journey, I was consuming upwards of 250g of protein a day!
I did this because I thought I "had to" in order to gain muscle and lose more fat...
But I am getting ahead of myself… I have an article all about the importance of testosterone and other hormones for weight loss coming out soon...
Protein is definitely important for your health and ability to grow muscle, but don’t buy into all the hype.
No, you don’t need a lot of it
No, you don’t need to supplement with it
No, you don’t need to eat it at a specific time
Unless you are lifting weights, a vegan, or dealing with deficiencies, you probably get enough from a diet (that is, if you are eating a diet consisting of healthy, whole foods).
If you are lifting, try to get around .64-.82g per pound of body weight, other than that protein should make up around 20 percent of your diet at most...
I know this wasn't anything fancy or new, but hey... sometimes the right information is boring 😉
'Till next time...