How much protein do I really need to eat?

Protein requirements increase with growth, during pregnancy, illness and with Age. Recommendations for protein intake have been under intense scrutiny and debate among health professionals and researchers for some time. Central to this controversy is the current recommended daily intake, which is thought to be sufficient, to support health and well-being in healthy adults, but not sufficient to support the support the development of lean muscle mass. Emerging research has shown the amount of protein need to optimise responses to resistance training and improve recovery from training is significantly higher.

Currently, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommend healthy adult males and females aged between 19-70 years of age consume 0.84 and 0.75 g/kg per day. Similarly, the American recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 g/kg per day. These recommendations fall well short of the protein intakes, shown through training studies to increase lean muscle mass. For example, Morten and Colleagues (2018) reported protein intakes ranging between 1.0-2.2g/kg per day, optimise the development of lean muscle mass in response to resistance training. Importantly, these researchers identified the need for additional protein supplementation, may only be necessary if protein intakes are less than 1.6g/kg of bodweight per day. What this suggests, is additional protein supplementation may only be necessary if your current protein intake is below 1.6g/kg per day. What is even more interesting is, the amounts of protein needed to support the maintain lean muscle mass, strength and recovery in older adults (>50 years of age) may even be higher than these targets again. In summary, researchers now agree, the optimal amount of protein to support the development of lean muscle mass in response to a resistance training program is 1.6kg/kg per day.

Its now time to see how close you are to this target, we recommend you record your daily food intake for at least 3 days and evaluate the amount of protein you are consuming through food alone, do not add additional protein supplements if you are using them. Once you have established the amount of protein you are consuming, then determine if you need additional supplementation. It may be that you are consuming well in above of 1.6 g/kg per day, which for a 75 kilo individual would amount to 120 grams of protein per day.

 

References:

Morton, R. W., Murphy, K. T., McKellar, S. R., Schoenfeld, B. J., Henselmans, M., Helms, E., … & Phillips, S. M. (2018). A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med, 52(6), 376-384.

Doering, T. M., Reaburn, P. R., Phillips, S. M., & Jenkins, D. G. (2016). Postexercise dietary protein strategies to maximize skeletal muscle repair and remodeling in masters endurance athletes: a review. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 26(2), 168-178.

Nrv.gov.au. (2019). Protein | Nutrient Reference Values. [online] Available at: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/protein [Accessed 10 Apr. 2019].

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