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‘Leaner and Meaner’:  How Much Protein Do You Need?

‘Leaner and Meaner’: How Much Protein Do You Need?

There has always been a debate about how much protein an athlete needs.  ‘You need one gram per kilogram of weight’ or you need ‘one gram per pound of weight’ and some other somewhat random numbers are usually used to determine how much protein resistance training athletes need.  As a healthcare provider who works with athletes, I need to make sure my athletes have enough protein to ensure healthy soft tissue function and reduce the likelihood of injury. Without proper protein consumption, an athlete will not achieve his/her fitness goals, and if there’s an injury, the athlete will certainly need extra protein during the recovery phase to get better.  I won’t discuss the subject of sarcopenia in this blog but this topic too is a major crisis in our country.  So, how do we know where to really start?

A literature review study from 2014 in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism gives us a good formula for determining the range of protein needed for caloric restricted, resistance trained athletes. Before we go any further, we should define who these athletes are…. they are…you and me.  If you work out, want to look good, and want a high level of lean muscle mass (highly desirable for good health), then this formula applies to you.  In fact, if you just work out and wish to have healthy muscle, this formula will help you achieve your goals.  The bottom line is that athletes tend to ingest less protein than they need and this is a major concern.  Not only that, but they also are unlikely getting the best quality protein they can. Oh, this study also mentions that total fat consumption should not go below 20% of total calorie intake.  So what are we looking at?  A sensible caloric restricted diet with adequate micronutrient ingestion and the proper ratio of macronutrients.  So, you want to be ‘lean and mean’?…here’s how to achieve it… Continue Reading →