QUESTION: How much protein do I need?
ANSWER: That depends on your goals. ACSM recommends you take no more than 1gm per poud of body weight, although body builders are known for taking up to 2gms per pound of body weight. I am a 145lbs and I try to get a third of my calories from protein, which (when dieting) equals 100gms of protein or .7gms per pound of my body weight. (THE MATH: 1200 calories x 1/3 = 400 calories divided by 4 (4 calories per gram of protein) = 100gms of protein). The most protein I get is around 130gms of protein while Steve probably gets more like . (I normally have one post workout shake and another shake either in the morning after my run or before bed. Steve averages 190-210gms of protein a day.
Most trainers in the industry suggest .5-.75gms per pound of your ideal body weight for women and 1-2gm per pound of ideal body weight for me. I would say anyone’s minimum should be .5gms of protein per pound of “IDEAL” body weight. For instance, if you are 200lbs but you want to be 150lbs, I’d suggest never dropping below 75gms of protein if you are actively workout. Of course this varies with people’s training, weight goals, existing lean mass, gender, etc – but it’s a good general rule of thumb.
Absorption is also key.
It’s not just enough to have a few shakes – you have to actually absorb it for it to be useful. Here are 2 ways to boost absorption. First, know that your post workout shake should be very different than your other shakes. This is the one time your body is very receptive to using the protein so you want to speed up absorption by drinking your shake with a sugary food (like honey, orange juice, etc), avoiding fats or low-glycemic carbs that would slow down digestion. You want to digest this protein with in 30-40 minutes of training so I recommend downing your shake as SOON as you finish training. All other times, you want to slow digestion because the longer it is in your stomach, the better chance of absorption. So, all other times it’s great to add milk, peanut butter and other carbs or fats. (SEE MY FEATURED PROTEIN SHAKE RECIPE BELOW)
It’s best to get most of your protein from whole foods.
Try your best to rely on whole foods for your biggest source of protein as we digest and absorb that protein best. At least 60% of your protein should come from whole foods like chicken, turkey, fish, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, milk, etc. It is tempting to rely on protein powder for our protein, but protein powder is supposed to be a SUPPLEMENT, not a staple.
Since I’m not a big meat eater, I HAVE to supplement and boost other high-protein foods in my diet to get the protein my body needs. I use GNC’s AMP60 (Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60). It is really yummy and it has 60gms of high-quality protein blend which is micronized for better absorption. What makes a protein a good choice is quality and also taste. If you don’t like the way it tastes, you won’t eat it – so taste is very important and this protein gets 5 STARS in my book!!
What does RDA say?
I recently interviewed a physician who specializes in nutrition and blood work analysis (analyzing minerals and nutrients absorbed to help tweak diets, etc). She explained the RDA (recommended daily allowance) as a minimum number to be healthy. In other words, if you meet the RDA standards, she was saying, it simply means you aren’t malnourished or in a sickly state. Those standards are not very high! If you are trying to be fit (not just avoiding being sickly) then, I would suggest not going by the RDA and boosting your macro and micro nutrients to support your more active fit lifestyle and goals.