Transcript of my YouTube video “How Much Protein Do I Need?“:
What’s up, guys? Dan Garner, strength coach and nutrition specialist, going to talk to you today about one of the hottest topics and has been for a long time in the fitness industry, and that’s protein. Protein intake when you’re massing up, protein intake when you’re leaning down, and everything in between.
So, protein in it of itself is about 4 calories per gram and it takes about 20 amino acids to make up what is called protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein so it takes a wide variety of amino acids just to make 1 protein molecule. Now, amino acids, they have tons of different functions in the body, like tyrosine is very associated with neurotransmitter development and focus, taurine calms the nervous system down. It’s a better amino acid to take later on in the day to improve gaba pools and calm down before bedtime. Leucine is very popular for activating the mTOR pathway and being very anabolic post-exercise.
So, every amino acid, there’s a lot of amino acids that make up what’s protein, but each amino acid plays very different roles in the body, and amino acids are very important for everything – for regulating blood sugar, for tons of enzymatic reactions in the body, building up lean tissue, repairing tissue, even recovering from surgery. I always recommend people increase their protein and even increase their calorie intake if they’ve had any severe burn or if they’re recovering from surgery cause just a severe burn or surgery can increase your resting metabolic rate anywhere from 15 to 50% during that healing process. Now, that’s huge. 50%, I mean so, if your resting metabolic rate was 2000 calories, let’s say, and this is the amount of calories you burn at rest without activity. Let’s say it was 2000 calories. After a major surgery or after severe burn, your resting metabolic rate might be 3000 calories. It’s much better to get more these in from protein. This is going to help build up your tissue faster cause skin’s tissue just like muscle tissue, you know, so get that protein in. It’s going to help recover you from surgery. It’s going to improve that quality of recovery as well.
One thing I want to address before I go off into a tangent about bulking and cutting and protein needs is addressing the 30 grams of protein in one sitting myth. It is absolutely outrageous. You hear people say that in the gym. What’s worse is I’ve heard personal trainers say that. 30 grams in one sitting- that idea came from a terrible study that’s not even worth mentioning, a long time ago that was completely flawed. The human body can take in way more than 30 grams of protein. And most of the time that people say like well no, you can only absorb 30 grams in one sitting. Well, what do you mean absorb anyways? Are you talking about protein synthesis? Are you talking about it being broken down in neurogenesis into glucose? Are you, different regulating bringing up your amino acid pools, it being stored as fat? There’s so many different ways protein can go, so I don’t know what they mean by just absorb because what doesn’t get used in one area, you’re going to use it to build up and repair tissue. You’re going to use to build up your amino acid pool. It can be turned into glucose for energy. It can be stored as glycogen. It can be stored as fat. Protein, there’s so many different ways in which it can go on the body. That 30 grams in one sitting is ridiculous.
To put that into perspective, that’s about 4 ounces of steak. So you can only have 4 ounces of steak in one sitting and the rest just gets wasted, just gets excreted. That doesn’t make any sense and think about it from an evolution standpoint too. We would have never survived as a species if we could only have 30 grams of protein in one sitting. Caveman, they’d attack saber tooth tigers, woolly mammoths, whatever it was, you can bet your ass, a cavemen wasn’t eating every 2 to 3 hours only 30 grams of protein. It just doesn’t make any sense. You can have as much protein in one sitting as you’re willing to put in your mouth, okay? It’s going to allocate itself to different sources in the body. Yeah, it might not all go to muscle growth, but I have guys at 60 to even a hundred grams of protein in a sitting and they are lean under 10% body fat guys. It’s outrageous statement to say that you can only have 30 grams of protein in one sitting, okay?
Having said that, let’s get to some recommendations. So, here’s where a lot of people have it backwards sometimes and with my athletes and my body builders and even the research can back me up here, when you’re massing up, a good number to hit is about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight a day. And you can receive your other calories from carbohydrates and fats in any which ratio you want. When you’re leaning down is actually when you want to progressively increase your protein intake. So, a lot of people have it reversed. When they want to build a lot of muscle mass, they want to take in all kinds of protein and when they’re leaning down, they kind of bring everything down. But when you’re leaning down, that’s actually when you want to bring protein up a bit. It’s going to help you maintain your lean mass a lot better.
So when you’re massing up a great guideline to start with is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight and then get your other calories in from carbs and fat to help fuel the workout.
And when you’re leaning down, you want to have progressively increase throughout the process so, if you’re on like a 16-week, 20-week lean down, speaking to a wide audience so it’s tough to make a full guideline here, but you want to progressively increase that to a ceiling of 2 grams per pound of body weight. So, I would progress you at about 1.2 grams per pound, 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, and then to 2 at your ceiling. And we will progressively increase that so there is no chance of you losing muscle mass while you’re leaning down, all right? This is very important. Nobody wants to lose muscle mass when they’re leaning down because muscle’s metabolically active. It’s going to keep your metabolism higher. It’s going to keep you stronger and who wants to lose muscle mass when they’re leaning down? All right? So, I can post some research as well to back this up.
Another thing that I get commonly asked about is food versus protein powders. Now, protein powders are good, but nothing replaces food, and this is agreed upon pretty much by everybody who’s been around the block for bodybuilding, for athletics and nutrition, is that you can’t replace food. One time I am a fan of protein powders though is post workout because there’s a lot of research out there showing increased protein synthesis with whey protein post workout. So increase your muscle’s ability to utilize and build up muscle tissue by taking whey protein post workout and a great way to measure your intake post workout, a conservative way, is .5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight of protein powder after your training. So, I’ll say that again, half a gram of protein per kilogram of body weight of whey protein after your training. That’s a great way to go about it.
If you have acid load issues, cause protein can be acidic; honestly, there’s a great research out of Florida showing that 8 grams of essential amino acids provides the whey protein synthesis of 45 grams of whey protein. So, that’s awesome. That’s huge and it’s not going to provide the same type of acid load that a total protein would. So, if you’re somebody who has osteoarthritis or something like that and their calcium is being robbed from their bone tissue, I would more recommend you go very low protein post workout and have 8 grams of essential amino acids instead of have a big bolus of some whey protein post workout, but if you’re a young person or just someone who wants to build muscle, whey protein’s where it’s at cause it’s rich in immunoglobulines as well. Well, good protein powder is rich in immunoglobulines and they improve your immune system and I’ve said this in other videos, your ability to build muscle mass is a function of how strong your immune system is. So if you have a strong immune system, your ability to build muscle mass is that much greater, okay?
When you’re looking for protein powders, it’s always great to go with a New Zealand brand protein, so like Progressive’s Harmonized Whey, just that’s one of them or whey isolate. So, something like Dymatize ISO 100. Poliquin makes a great protein product as well.
One thing when you’re looking for protein powders is it is good to not have sucralose in it. So, most products do have sucralose in it, ISO 100 included. I found at least with my athletes that it doesn’t make a body composition difference, but sucralose is unhealthy, no matter which way you look at it, so it’s better to have a Stevia sweetening product or an unsweetened product, all right?