How Much Protein?

This is by far the most debated question in the sports/nutrition field because many believe that more protein equals more muscle.

I’ll cut to the chase: the general recommendations for protein intake are 0.8-1.0 gram of protein/kilogram of weight.  Many misinterpret this as 1.0 gram of protein/pound of body weight. It’s even common to hear that guys at the gym take up to 2.0 grams of protein/pound of body weight.  All I can do is quote Joey Lawrence: “WHOA!”

I don’t think it’s wrong to take in more protein but there are a couple of things you should know.

(1) Protein is not the body’s primary source of energy.  Carbohydrates are the fastest and easiest to metabolize and oxidize for energy.  Protein has a kajillion important functions in the body, least of which is to be used as a source of energy.  Why take away from protein’s so many important functions by using it as an energy source?  Especially when carbohydrates are broken down much quicker and are the preferred source of energy for humans.

(2) Excessive protein intake can put stress on the liver to metabolize it.  Prolonged intake of excessive protein can lead to liver problems in the future. Ruh roh!

(3) Eating protein won’t give you bigger muscles.  Working out hard and intaking adequate nutrition will help your body heal and grow those muscles.

I still think that there is a time and a place for protein bars and shakes, but people put WAY TOO MUCH emphasis on protein and too little on carbohydrates.  Carbs are not evil.  Many professional athletes understand that carbohydrates are essential to their diet to help them with energy and performance.  So don’t put protein up on a pedestal and don’t hate on carbs.  It’s a balancing act between all the macronutrients to help fuel your body.  All of them are important.

Just a fun factoid, excess protein can be repackaged in the body just like excess carbohydrates (aka into FAT). Solution: a balanced meal without going over on your calories.

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