As you recall from my previous article regarding protein there are many resources available to get the amount of protein required for athletes or anyone living more than just a sedentary lifestyle. Yet, the question continues to be asked: “Coach, how much protein do I really need?”, and I know most of you want a simple answer like “13”, and for those of you who want the simple answer for everything you can go ahead and stop reading and whenever you have a question about anything in life just know the answer to be 13! Simple! For everyone else, it depends on a few factors; this may require some math on your part.
To decipher exactly how much protein you may need we first need to know what kind of training you are doing and what your end results are. Lets take Stephanie for example, she lives a sedentary lifestyle and works sitting down most of her day and relishes her bingo nights on the weekends. She enjoys her life and has no interest or ambition to expend any more calories then necessary to open a jar of pickles. Stephanie eats moderately -based off of her current resting metabolic rate (RMR)- and rarely indulges in savory or sweet treats. She likely can use the daily recommended intake (DRI) of protein (.8 grams per kilogram of body weight equals the amount of grams of protein per day). Stephanie weighs 140 lbs (63.5 kilograms) and would therefor need around 50.8 grams of protein per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Then there is Mike the body builder. Mike goes to the gym five to six days a week and every other day he goes to the gym twice a day. Mike works a labor intensive job and delights in the pleasure of a rock climbing filled day on his days off. How in the world are we going to keep this beast fueled with enough protein you ask? Its not as hard as many make it out to be. Start off by finding his caloric intake to support muscle development: 47 calories x body weight in kg= calories needed per day to build muscle. Set his protein intake: 1.7g x body weight in kg= grams of protein per day. Voila! Now he can eat meat day and night then fill in with beer and chocolate for the rest of his calories…right? That is one theory (commonly used by some “trying” to get more muscle), but let’s assume that Mike fills in his carbohydrate calories (low intensity days: 5g x body weight in kg= g carbs for low intensity. High intensity days: 9g x body weight in kg= g carbs for intense exercise) with some of the protein rich grains, legumes, and vegetables listed earlier. Now, he is able to eat moderate amounts of everything through his 6 meals per day. Providing his growing body with enough macro and micro nutrients through the variety of food consumed to support development and enough protein for growth. Win win!
Let’s reflect back; remember sedentary Stephanie from the beginning of this article? Suppose she chooses to be vegan -because of her fondness of other living creatures. Luckily, Stephanie is still non-judgmental and extremely tolerant of others dietary choices and will therefor still join her carnivore-loving-bridge club once a week for lunch. What in the world is poor Stephani going to eat to get all 51 grams of protein without packing her own sun-dried tomatoes (14 g protein) and sprouted lentils (9 g or protein)? Because she stays within the DRI of carbohydrates (around 200 grams) she is likely to be mindful about not filling up on grains and then having a 2 plant based protein drinks at the end of her simple-carb-lovin day. Yet, she still gets her recommended protein with ease. 100 grams of: Mushrooms (4g), spinach (4g), artichokes (3), asparagus (3g), or broccoli (3g) all have more than enough protein and moderate amounts of carbohydrates per calorie. So, while protein is essential for body composition and strong muscle development keep in mind that there really is no need to overindulge -as you recall, the body can only simulate so much protein at one time- in the consumption of other animals (see “Surviving and Dieting VS Thriving and Fueling”) or synthetic-man-made beverages or bars.
Yes, I know, “what about meathead Mike? How can he live without his 4 time a day supplements?” right? While there are a few great protein products on the market today I strongly encourage you to learn about your food. It does take planning and a lot of preparation work. And quite frankly, if your really that afraid of ‘work’ then maybe you can try reframing your mindsets to being just a part of a weight lifters routine (which you already are dedicated to). And while this doesn’t leave allot of room for fatty-sugary-junk food or alcohol (burning at 8.8 and 6.9 Kcal/gram respectively, with little to no nutritional value) poisoning your body from time to time with those things will not break the bank.
The commitment already invested will yield greater long term results with QUALITY and precision versus haphazard quantity.
There is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to getting adequate protein…no pun intended.
Make no qualms about it and accept that if you choose to monotonously eat poisonous-trashy fuel you will get shity results.
Enjoy your choices!