Friday, March 12, 2010

How Much Protein Do I Need?

How much protein do I need? Good question. Normal adult protein needs are less than a gram per kilogram of bodyweight (to get from pounds to kilo divide by 2.2). In fact, most normal adult needs are .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. What bodyweight do we use? Do we use our ideal bodyweight or actual bodyweight? If you’re within a normal weight range, you’re not too thin or too heavy; you can actually use your actual bodyweight. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to use your ideal bodyweight. Learn to calculate your ideal bodyweight here. Excess body fat doesn’t have the same demand for protein or amino-acids as muscle does. Conversely, if you’re a very physically active person, you’d probably want to use your actual weight even if you’re 20 or 30 pounds overweight.

What we know is that during periods of active growth and development, protein requirements are higher. In infancy, protein needs are 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Babies are growing machines, and as such, need a significantly greater amount of protein. Another period of rapid growth is during adolescence. Individuals going through adolescence need about 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight.

What happens if you’re an athlete? What if you’re trying to increase your muscular mass? What if you run marathons or triathlons? Endurance athletes need anywhere between 1.2 and 1.4 grams of protein per kilo. Strength athletes (anybody who lifts weights) require 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.

Is it true that an athlete needs more protein? The simple answer is yes. Reality is that most amateur athletes have no clue and are consuming around 4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. That is a big waste of money. Keep in mind that so much protein isn’t good, as it increases the likelihood of kidney stones.

When the body is trying to heal itself (after surgery, for example), protein requirements are 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilo. With significant injury (burns, for example), the protein requirements can actually exceed that 2 grams of protein per kilo.

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