During the last five years, I’ve probably written about protein more than any other topic. That’s largely due to the fact that along with energy intake, water intake, and a solid progressive full body strength program, very little else will have such a dramatic impact on your progress, recovery, and body composition. Most people who read fitness articles and are regular readers of our blog understand that they need to eat protein. My experience in nutrition coaching however, shows that many people are clueless as to how to go about this.
For starters, we need to understand what our protein intake should look like. Many studies look at minimum requirements. This outlook is simply looking at what is needed to avoid sickness and disease. What we want to look at is optimal intakes to improve recovery and accumulate or retain muscle mass, as these are the metrics which will vastly improve our quality of life. Most research in this field gives protein requirements in grams per kilogram of bodyweight. The latest and most comprehensive Meta-analysis recommends an intake of 0.73g/lb of bodyweight. Dr. Eric Helms presents various good points in this article which shows intakes may be able to go as low as 0.63g/lb of bodyweight and some may benefit from as high as 1.3g/lb of bodyweight. Since most people that I talk to about protein intake are struggling to get enough, I recommend 0.6-1g/lb of bodyweight. Leaner individuals likely need to be on the higher end, while obese and overweight individuals will probably fair just fine on the lower end. Once you know your intake goals, you simply need to divide that amount among the number of meals you eat per day. Here is a practical guide, with simple options if you are still under on your protein intake. These meals can be scaled up or down based on your protein needs and will also fulfill fruit and veggie requirements for the day.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1
Snack Option #1
2 oz beef/turkey/venison jerky (20-25g protein, 140-180 calories)
Snack Option #2
Snack Option #3
3 string cheese OR 3 hard boiled Eggs (18g protein, 150-210 calories)
Daily Totals: 108-250g protein (1140-2631 calories)