How much protein is too much and what if I don't eat enough protein?
Are you thinking.....?
- I want to build muscle
- Don't I need protein to build muscle
- I am working hard on my weights training so I should eat more protein
Well don't panic, as yes you do need to eat additional protein with weight building to replace and to build muscle as you train. The issue is how much do you need?
According to most supplement companies, the answer is the more you have the better you will be but this is not the entire story as the protein needs some carbohydrate to help it provide maximum gains.
Estimated Protein Requirements for Athletes:-
Sedentary men and women 0.8 - 1.0 gram of protein per kg of body weight
Elite endurance athletes (men) 1.6 g/kg
Moderate Intensity athletes 1.2 g/kg
Recreational endurance athletes 0.8-1.0 g/kg
Resistance Training (early days) 1.5-1.7 g/kg
Resistance athletes (maintenance) 1.2 g/kg
When gains in muscle mass are the priority, ensure that protein forms an important part of the training diet. In general if you are training hard and increasing your total energy requirements, you will be obtaining adequate protein, a protein intake of around 15% of total calorie intake is general considered adequate.
It is also important to ensure that you are spreading your protein intake over the course of the day and not eating it all in one meal. This ensures that your metabolic response to the increased protein intake is to build muscle. You also need to ensure that carbohydrate is consumed along with the protein both pre and post training to provide the best protein breakdown and supply of amino acids for muscle building.
The amount of protein you require post workout is quite small and can often be fulfilled with a glass of milk, or a tub of yoghurt, creamed rice or by a smoothie. However you do need to be diligent about having a good protein intake over the day to ensure best results.
Foods rich in protein
For 10g of protein you need to consume:-
- 35g of cooked red meat
- 40g of skinless cooked chicken
- 50 g of cooked fish
- 1 cup of low fat milk (adding skim milk powder to this will increase the protein load)
- 30g of reduced fat cheese
- 2 small eggs
- 4 slices of bread
- 3 cups of wholegrain cereal
- 3 cups of cooked rice
- 3/4 cup of cooked lentils or kidney beans
- 60g of nuts or seeds
In addition to a good diet, to get the most from your training you should sleep and recover well, eat a good diet throughout the week, not just on training days and note that gains are made from a well structured gym programme and good meal programme.
For more information on intake, speak to your dietitian.
Burke, L and Deakin, V,; Clinical Sports Nutrition 4th ed, McGraw Hill, North Ryde NSW