By Dr. Lowell Greib MSC ND CISSN
Protein is a major topic in the lives of active individuals, and sport science professionals the world over.
The majority of debates and discussions revolves around how much of the essential macronutrient should be consumed daily.
The more one explores the topic, the more muddied the waters become regarding who needs to eat what to fuel their body and remain healthy.
While those over 50 will be a subtopic to dive into in a separate article, we’ll identify ways to optimize protein consumption and improve lean body muscle for those under-50 who are part of the active population.
Protein, protein, and more protein
Over the last two decades, a significant body of literature has been amassed regarding optimal protein intake.
Within the context of active living, sport, and exercise science it is has become apparent that current recommendations may fall short.
Our current Recommended Daily Allowance (or RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram. This means that a 150-lbs. person (which is regarded as ‘average’ in literature) should consume about 55 grams of protein.
In determining the RDA, there is, however, a gross oversight. It is assumed that one would get sufficient protein when an element (nitrogen – which is only found in protein) is in the balance between intake and output.
With further understanding of protein biochemistry, this assumption has been identified as flawed (yet the age-old RDA remains). Current literature now clearly supports that active individuals require more protein than sedentary people.
This should be in the quantity of at least 1.4 grams per kilogram.
Using the earlier example, the 150-lbs pound individual should be consuming a mimimum of 96 grams of protein. Almost double the current ‘recommendation!’
Spreading It Out
Now that it is apparent that many of us need more protein in our diets, there is now an eating methodology that should be taken into consideration.
Although bodybuilders have been utilizing a fueling strategy that spaces multiple meals over the course of the day for decades, most of the population eats three squares per day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
When reviewing your dietary patterns, think about what is traditional breakfast and lunches.
Generally speaking, morning meals are rich in carbohydrates and may include cereals or bread products. Low protein consumption at breakfast is a hallmark in societal eating.
Lunch may consist of starch with a small amount of protein sandwiched in the middle. Again, a relatively minimal protein intake.
Population data analysis suggests that protein consumption is 3 fold greater at dinner when compared to breakfast.
Relative protein distribution can easily be 15% at breakfast, 25% at lunch, and 60% at dinner.
This eating structure, however, does not optimize protein biochemistry and particularly muscle protein synthesis.
Seminal research, published almost 20 years ago, is suggestive that in order to optimize the muscle response to protein intake, we should be consuming upward of 30 grams of protein at each meal.
Eating Strategy with Protein in Command
Now that you have a better understanding of not only the quantity of protein in your diet but also the quantity in each meal, consider the following when building a new daily fueling strategy.
For individuals under 200 lbs. –
- Eat four meals per day with at least 30 grams of protein as the central macronutrient of the meal.
- One of the meals can be as simple as adding a protein powder shake.
For individuals over 200 lbs. –
- Eat five meals per day with at least 30 grams of protein as the central macronutrient of the meal.
- Two of the meals can be as simple as adding protein powder shakes.
Albeit, these fuelling strategies are generalized in nature, they can be regarded as a starting point for dietary intake modifications. For further detailed nutrition and fuelling information,
The SportLab clinicians can offer individualized guidance and also make recommendations on a protein supplement that may be helpful in meeting your daily need for optimum health.
The guest post is courtesy of TheSportLab.ca
Learn more about what protein is and why it’s important at: https://thesportlab.ca/protein-is-king/