Protein is one of the three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) that compose the food you eat. It is the building block for your body and plays a role in many systems from muscle synthesis (growth), immune system, hormone production, brain health, energy, and more. As you can see, protein intake is essential. But with this importance came a myth that more is better; this is not true.
Eating more protein than you need does not increase muscle growth or improve your health in any way; it simply adds more body fat. While yes, hitting your marker for protein intake is very important, the marker estimates are most often overestimated by those who repeat the mantra of “high protein diet” or “one gram per pound of bodyweight.” The truth is you need different amounts of protein depending on your height, weight, and overall activity level.
A weekly activity level less than 8 hours:
.8 grams per KG of bodyweight or .37 per pound
Personal example : 195 pounds = 72.15 grams
A weekly activity level of 8-40 hours:
1.2 - 1.5 grams per KG or .55 - .68 grams per pound
Personal example : 195 pounds = 107-132 grams
(If you follow a plant based / vegan diet you must add 10% to your protein needs to account for the bioavailability of the protein.)
The only time you may need an amount higher than 1.5 grams per KG is if you are in the first month of a high-intensity resistance training program and are looking to add extremely high levels of muscle to your body as fast as possible. After this first month, your body will adapt better to your training, and your protein needs decrease back to 1.2-1.5 grams per KG.
So, if you are an average person and exercise no more than eight hours per week (8 hours is a lot), you need no more than .8 grams per KG a day. If you are a high-level athlete or bodybuilder, aim for 1.2-1.5 grams per KG of body weight per day.
With the misconception of “the more protein, the better” comes the consumption of foods that lead to increased risk of adverse health situations such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Most protein sources (even plant-based ones) are higher in fat. So with an increased protein intake comes an increase in fat as well. So not only will you add body fat by consuming more protein than you need, but you will also most likely be eating more fat than you need, also causing an increase in body fat.
For optimal health, you must source your protein from the best sources. The recommendations below are based on the best thoraces for longevity, energy levels, inflammation, and food quality—the quality of what you eat matters. If you feed your body the cheapest sources of food, expect the cheapest results.
Plant-based | Recommended
- Hemp seeds / powder
- Chia seed
- Dark leafy greens
- Nuts & seeds
- Nut butter
Animal Based | Limit 2-3 times per week
- Wild-caught Cod, Salmon, Tuna
- Game meat
- Raw eggs
This document outlines the basics of protein and great guidelines to follow. If you are more help with nutrition, recipes, training help, workouts, and a team to join to help you get to the next level consider joining CLLCTV, an online community working towards their highest potential.
Thanks for reading,
Jacob Showers | PT and Certified Nutrition Specialist
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