Protein, protein, and more protein! It’s a hot topic in the fitness community. The science is certainly there to tell us exactly how much we need. But there are many schools of thought on the topic.
There’s the old school train of thought, the new, and just some absurd ones. So who’s right? The obvious answer would be science, but it may not be that simple. I’ll show you why.
As a bodybuilder for nearly two decades, I’ve heard it all, read it all, and tried it all. One thing I’ve learned in all that time is, just because it’s in a book, or scientific journal, doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone.
There are way too many variables when it comes to building muscle and getting lean to make blanket statements. However, one thing that always remains true is that to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit (aka eat less calories than you burn) and to gain weight you must be in a caloric surplus (aka eat more calories than you burn).
Other than that, many things vary. For instance, some people, such as myself, can build muscle with remaining at eight percent body-fat, while others have to go up to around twelve percent or so. Some people can get lean while eating junk food daily, while others have to restrict calories and perform cardio to get lean.
My point is that we are all lean. With that being said, let’s look at some of the recommendations for protein intake. The RDA or recommended dietary allowance for protein for the average person is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body-weight.
That is the minimum amount required for optimum health. Keep in mind this is for the average person. For athletes, the RDA is much higher. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training.
For the person with a large amount of muscle mass looking to build more, even that is low in my experience and that of many people I know. I remember I built muscle to a certain point staying within the recommended range for athletes, but I eventually hit a plateau.
I increased my caloric intake, tried more carbs, more fats, training more frequently, training harder, and more. Keep in mind that I didn’t try all of those things at once. It wasn’t until I took the advice of some guys with more muscle mass than I, that I put on an extra 10 pounds of muscle. As you can see in this picture.
This made a huge difference in my physique, taking it from lean athlete to very densely muscular, and was exactly what I had wanted. So, what exact changes did I make? I went from one gram of protein per pound of body-weight to about 1.25-1.5. That’s over 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram.
I can’t tell you how quickly this benefited my physique, but I can tell you that it was quick. However, if I had listened to the scientific literature I never would’ve discovered that.
I later tried to lower my protein again, and guess what happened? I lost the extra 10 pounds of muscle! Now, I realize this isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t active and training consistently, then your body has no need for added protein, but if you train frequently, and have found yourself building muscle more slowly than you’d like, this could be the missing key for you.
Who knows, maybe you’ll take your physique to that next level that you’ve been looking for. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. Until next time, I love you guys always.