How Much Protein do I need? How do I get more?

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Fast Facts:

Read these if you want just the basic recommendations.

1) The current RDA recommendations for protein intake (about half your body weight in grams per day) were established based on an inactive population. An active population needs about twice those estimates to rebuild broken-down tissue.

2) Actual protein requirements for an individual exercising are about 90% of one’s body weight in grams per day. If you weight 200lbs, that’s 180grams of protein per day.

3) Meeting your protein requirement has many positive benefits including: better recovery from exercise, higher metabolism, increase satiety (feeling full), and improved training response from exercise.

4) Proteins from low-fat solid food sources are preferred, with a protein-to-fat ratio of 4-to-1 (so something with 20g of protein should have about 5g of fat, or less). Good examples are: boneless/skinless chicken and turkey breast, extra lean ground turkey, lean (4%) ground sirloin, egg whites, pork tenderloin, 0% Greek yogurt, canned tuna (in water), Mahi-Mahi, beef eye of round (fat trimmed), scallops, shrimp, tilapia, halibut. If you are vegetarian, click here for more information. For protein supplement recommendations click here.

5) Preparing your protein should be done using cooking sprays (like pam), rather than oil or butter. Also, by being creative you can keep protein sources palatable for a lot longer. Websites like Dashing Dish or the recipe database of bodybuilding.com are good resources.

Scientific Support & Evidence:

Read this if you want to know what we base our recommendations on.

1) Protein is naturally broken down during day-to-day activity; exercise further increases protein breakdown. In order to see beneficial training response this broken down protein must be rebuilt.

2) Training responses aren’t just building muscle tissue or increasing strength, nearly every beneficial training response requires the amino acids provided by protein, for that response to occur. As mentioned above, this amount of protein is approximately 90% of body weight in grams per day.

3) Contrary to a common belief, a high protein intake is not unsafe. Only one very flawed animal study (rats in kidney failure) showed even the slightest inclination of issues with higher protein (and the rats were consuming several times their body in grams per day). All other research on protein intake suggests consuming it in abundance is not only safe, but offers several benefits.

4) Protein is significantly important for people trying to lose weight. Not only will consuming an adequate amount of protein allow you to preserve muscle tissue (burning fat) while dieting, it also provides a significant feeling of fullness. Protein actually requires more calories to breakdown, thus increasing metabolism. Lastly, there is some emerging research on its positive role in influencing brain biochemistry and cellular metabolism in a direction favoring greater fat loss.

Links to Other Informational Resources:

Click below if you’d like more in-depth Information:

1) AFS Blog Article: Protein: The Critical Nutrient for All Training Adaptations

2) AFS Blog Article: How Much Protein Do We Really Need And When Do We Need It?

3) AFS Blog Article: 3 Protein Myths

4) AFS Blog Article: How to Increase your Protein Intake

5) AFS Blog Article: How to Increase your Protein Intake Part II

6) Peer-Reviewed Journal Article: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise

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