The upper limit for protein intake is .82 grams per pound of body weight, or 1.8 g/kg/bw will maximize protein synthesis for muscle gains. Going above .82 grams will not increase muscle mass, but most people like to round to 1 gram for simplicity. Dieting individuals need more protein with ranges of 1.8-2.0 g/kg/bw or .8-1 gram per pound of body weight.
PROTEIN AND MUSCLE GROWTH SUMMARY
- Protein and muscle growth is a debate among researchers as to how much to take.
- The upper limit for protein intake is .82 grams per pound of body weight, or 1.8 g/kg/bw will maximize protein synthesis for muscle gains.
- Going above .82 grams will not increase muscle mass, but most people like to round to 1 gram for simplicity.
- Dieting individuals need more protein with ranges of 1.8-2.0 g/kg/bw or .8-1 gram per pound of body weight.
If you are ever on Jeopardy, they may ask you, “What is the largest organ in the human body?” The correct answer is muscle! Muscle accounts for 40% of the total body in humans. Most people think of muscle just in terms of looking jacked, but being able to maintain muscle is a serious health concern.
Dietary proteins contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein needed for health and to build muscle. There are approximately 20 amino acids required by the body, with nine amino acids being essential and the other 11 non-essential, which the body can make. After resistance exercise, the acute increases in protein synthesis are correlated with increases in muscle mass. (Abou Sawan et al., 2022).
THE RDA FOR PROTEIN NEEDS TO BE CHANGED
While I was in school, I remember those test questions, “The protein RDA for adults is __ grams per kilogram of body weight” The answer is .8 g/kg/bw or .4 grams per pound of body weight. For many years, scientists and scholars have questioned the validity of the RDA’s stance on protein.
In an article titled “Protein ‘requirements’ beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health,” one of the leading experts in muscle protein synthesis, Dr. Stuart Philips, discusses the following beneficial effects of high protein diets for the general population. (Phillips et al., 2016) He states that RDA for protein needs to be increased. The benefits of high protein diets are:
a.) High-protein diets are beneficial for preventing muscle loss and sarcopenia (i.e., loss of muscle) in the elderly.
b.) Higher protein benefits weight management, losing body fat and preserving lean muscle mass.
c.) Higher protein has beneficial effects on reducing appetite, leading to reduced calories.
d.) Protein (~30 grams per meal) should be evenly distributed throughout the day for optimal benefits.
f.) High-quality meals from animal-based sources (i.e., milk, meat, eggs, poultry) provide a rich source of essential amino acids to stimulate maximal protein synthesis.
PROTEIN AND MUSCLE GROWTH MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
There are many misconceptions based on protein. Some of the most frequent misconceptions that have been previously discussed are:
* How much protein can the body absorb? The body has an unlimited capacity for absorbing protein in one sitting; however, max protein synthesis plateau after 40 grams. Protein per meal should be 20-40 grams of protein.
*Total protein intake is more important than post-workout protein intake for muscle growth.
*Whey protein is rich in leucine; anything above 3 grams of leucine will not further increase protein synthesis.
*Intermittent fasting studies have shown that less protein spaced out throughout the day results in similar muscle mass gains when total protein intake is similar.
*People with normal functioning kidneys have not been shown to experience adverse effects when consuming a high-protein diet.
Another commonly asked question is, “Does Protein Make You Constipated?” Protein does not cause constipation, but lack of fiber is the cause. In a literature review that looked at macro intake and constipation, sugary products, sodium, and higher calorie consumption were associated with constipation.(Abou Sawan et al., 2022)
For many lifters, it has been recommended that you consume more than 1g protein per pound of body weight to gain muscle mass. Is there any truth to this?
PROTEIN: 1 GRAM PER POUND OF BODY WEIGHT TO GAIN MUSCLE.
Bodybuilders have been told that you need 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight to gain muscle. If you consume less protein, are you going to lose muscle?
Here is a breakdown of the studies investigating protein intake and muscle gains.
- A 2020 study analyzed studies with over 5,402 participants and 105 articles research studies. The researchers found that protein intake in a wide range of protein dosages (.5-3.5 g/kg/bw or .3 to 1.6 grams per pound of body weight) increased lean muscle mass. The researchers found that protein intake above 1.3 g/kg/bw or .6 grams per pound of body weight was the point at which greater protein intake was not associated with greater increases in muscle mass.(Tagawa et al., 2020)
- A 2016 study analyzed a high-protein diet with different forms of protein. Groups received whey protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate with lactoferrin, or hydrolyzed whey protein in conjunction with resistance exercise.
- All groups consumed a high protein diet greater than 1.58 g/kg of body weight or .7 grams per pound of body weight during the 8-week study. At the end of the study, the whey protein hydrolysate group lost more fat, but the changes in muscle mass were the same between the groups. (Lockwood et al., 2017)