Recently, I’ve had a lot of people ask various questions related to how much protein they need to take each day. So I want to take this opportunity to share quality information with you about this popular topic. The facts presented here are straight from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) and its CEO, Dr. Jose Antonio. For additional advice similar to this article, I highly recommend signing up for the next Europa University, which is run by the same folks at the ISSN.
Why does protein intake vary by activity level?
In prior articles, Dr. Antonio has stated that most adults need to consume around 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Of course, highly active adults and athletes have increased protein needs. In fact, athletes who consistently perform strength-training exercises should consume about 0.7 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Endurance athletes should consume 0.6 to 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.
How much protein can the body digest and absorb in one hour?
It’s almost impossible to determine exactly how much protein a person can use and digest in one hour. It’s commonly believed that 10 grams of an average protein (whey) can be digested in approximately one hour. However, everyone’s digestive system is different and it largely depends on the health, function, and even the age of the individual.
What is the best way to satisfy protein requirements?
Most research states that eating between 20 and 30 grams of protein should be the optimum range. Keeping in mind that it takes approximately one hour to digest 10 grams of protein, it’s going to take approximately 2 to 3 hours to digest the ideal range of 20-30 grams of protein. Eating small meals throughout the day is the best way to satisfy your protein requirements.
Is it possible to take in too much protein?
According to the ISSN’s book, “The Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements,” it is their belief that aside from dehydration, the reported effects (potential damage to the liver and kidneys, plus an increased risk of cardiovascular disease) have been exaggerated. Additionally, the National Academy of Sciences and the Harvard School of Public Health have concluded that high protein diets do not increase the risk for coronary heart disease.
The ISSN goes on to state that no study has ever reported liver or kidney damage in healthy subjects consuming a high protein diet. This includes a recent study of bodybuilders that consumed 2.8 grams of protein/kg of body weight per day and studies in rodents fed 80% of their total energy as proteinfor more than half their lifespan. Therefore, unless an individual has a known kidney disease or is predisposed to kidney disorders (i.e., kidney stones), there seems to be little reason to consume less protein than is recommended by the ISSN.
Besides, it’s my belief that if you’re already eating a high-caloric diet, then overeating protein can have fewer detrimental effects on the body compared to overeating carbohydrates and fats.
What are the benefits of protein?
Besides helping build muscle mass and aiding in recovery, protein also helps in speeding up metabolic rate, helps increase growth hormones, mobilizes fat stores for energy, and decreases the risk of heart disease, plus increases the chance for weight loss.
If you’re training hard by performing intense weight resistance exercises, cross-fit, MMA, or just consistently in the gym doing general fitness, then make sure you are eating your protein so you can maximize your results.
Europa Sports Products Fitness/Wellness Coordinator
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Appalachian State University 1984-1990
Strength & Conditioning Coach Charlotte Hornets NBA team 1990-2001