Protein Intake

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What’s the biggest fitness myth? Protein intake. Specifically, the universally popular 1 gram per  lb of body weight or more. I mean everyone says so, so it must be correct?

Wrong.

So how much protein do we actually need?

Protein Intake
Protein Gains: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickharris1/8500871616

Most gurus, athletes and of course, supplement companies will tell you at least 1 gram per lb of bodyweight. Maybe 1.5 grams. Maybe even 2 grams (holy shit). If you only hit 0.9 grams per lb of bodyweight, your muscles will evaporate into thin air overnight. Your body will eat itself, waste away and you will may even grow a vagina. And these recommendations are made for the average Joe, 15% body fat in a calorie surplus! Ridiculous!

Of course, all things being equal, when you are dieting your protein requirements do increase. However, in order to maintain virtually all of your muscle during a cut, 90% of people will do brilliantly on 0.75-0.9 grams per lb of bodyweight. If you are already at a single digit body fat percentage, then increase that to 0.85-1 gram per lb of bodyweight. You don’t NEED to go any higher. In a surplus, 90% of people will be good to go on 0.5-0.75 grams per lb of bodyweight.

“Oh God, how can you recommend something so absurdly low?!?!?!?”

Trust me, you have been lied to all these years. Stop wasting your money.

You do not need to increase protein intake from these numbers, unless you are legitimately hungry all the time. There is a big difference between Lifestyle Restructuring (reducing social, emotional & habitual eating), & needing to implement Appetite Manipulation because you’re genuinely suffering due to being in a calorie deficit for a prolonged period. Even then, increasing protein is only one of the many strategies you could use to suppress your appetite. You may even find a diet break to be more beneficial.

Now that we have established that the traditional protein suggestions are bullshit, we can now look at why this is SO HELPFUL in many other ways. Once you accept that your muscles won’t disintegrate if you don’t hit your 250 grams of protein for the day, you can have so much more fun with fats and carbs! Awesome!

Fats & carbs (especially carbs) make us happy. They make dieting sustainable. To sacrifice these for super high protein intakes is sacrificing sustainable fat loss and gym performance for short term super satiety and slight increases in thermogenesis. And a shitload of money. Furthermore, this is not sustainable, so it’s not even worth discussing. Eventually, you will be a miserable bastard on very low carbs, with absolutely no energy in the gym. With no energy to create a training stimulus, good luck keeping your hard-earned muscles with your “Super anabolic” 250 grams of protein.

If you don’t believe me, try living a normal and enjoyable life with very low carbs. It’s a contradiction in terms!

Those with ridiculously strong levels of willpower (not me), may be able to get shredded with very low carbs. But they prove my point every time when they bounce back to much higher body fat levels within weeks. It is not sustainable. We want to be lean year round! We also want to live an awesome, happy life.

Chances are, if you are struggling to get leaner, or put muscle on, your protein intake is WAY TOO HIGH!!! Eating 1.5-2 grams per lb of bodyweight is unnecessary for maintaining all of your muscle. It’s insane if you are in a surplus. This is the number one reason why “Hard-gainers” keep fucking up. Cut back on the protein, eat more carbs and consume lots of sweet tasting, liquid calories. The you will consistently consume enough calories to gain muscle.

The only time your protein intake needs to be that high when cutting is if you have eliminated the emotional, social and habitual eating problems, and you are still really hungry all the time. But the reality of this situation is that this only applies to those who are already very lean. So increasing protein causes a serious proportionate trade-off with carbs and fats. Then, by default, the emotional, social & habitual needs start to appear again. Not good.

Anyway, to summarise the main points:

  1. You need 0.75-0.9 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight when cutting, depending on severity of the calorie deficit, current body fat percentage, and a few other factors. When bulking, this decreases to 0.5-0.75 grams per lb of bodyweight.
  2. This is brilliant news, as we can eat more carbs & fats, making dieting sustainable.
  3. Only increase protein if you are having real issues with your appetite. Emotional, social & habitual needs can be solved through other methods.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Protein Intake”

  1. What sort of protein intake would you recommend whilst in heavy training for recovery? As after multiple training sessions in 1 day I feel I would need slightly more protein intake obviously not sacrificing the carbs as this is important to have to refuel after the sessions. I’m never really sure after heavy training days what to have? Any other recommendations or is what you mentioned in the above still ideal?

    1. The recommendations are still the same – carbs carbs carbs 🙂 Only time protein goes up from there is if you’re either:

      Really hungry all the time
      Or really lean already and trying to get stage lean

      1. How lean do you have to be until the protein intake goes up from your recommendations? I’m still a way off yet but just curious 🙂

        1. Basically when you are at the lower end of your body fat set point range, and trying get below it. This is perfectly possible, but “set-point” is the level which your body is comfortable maintaining, so you won’t be below it for very long. This is normally for guys who are competing.

          The set point for ALL men (regardless of age) is a range from 7-14%. Some guys will tend towards the lower end and some will be towards the higher end.

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