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How much protein is enough?

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

With the internet being a minefield of information it is so hard to know how much protein we should be eating. You will find sources that say you should be having 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight a day all the way up to 2.2g per kg.  But what is the real answer? In all honesty I don’t really know and I don’t think any of us really know. I believe it is a case of trialing to find what works for you but also adapt the amount depending on how much exercise and resistance training you do. 

It is suggested that the lower end of the scale 0.8g per kg is aimed at those who are more sedentary and do not take part in a lot of resistance training. From there the amount should increased depending on your activity levels and the amount of resistance training you take part in. This all seems pretty simple, right?

So if you weigh 75kg 

0.8g x 75kg = 60g of protein per day 

2.2g x 75kg = 165g of protein per day 

I will now put a spanner in the works. Your body can only digest between 25g-35g of protein at one time without it being excreted and not used up, so that would mean if you are eating 165g of protein per day then you would have to have 4.7 meals of 35g of protein. This is actually quite a lot of protein to have in one sitting and a lot of meals during the day to have this amount of protein in. 

You may ask as a women, should I be consuming the same amount of protein per day as a man and the answer is, well you won’t be as you will be eating to the amount of grams per kg of body weight. So whilst the percentages are the same the amount will not be the same as you are lighter. 

And then we have vegans and vegetarians; can they get enough protein from their diets? Well the answer is “yes”, and pretty easily. Not only do a lot of legumes, nuts and pulses contain protein but additional protein can be added from a protein shake, if needed. The only change that vegans and vegetarians may want to consider is reducing the amount of protein they are consuming a little and upping their carbs as finding foods containing protein may be slightly harder for them. For example, if you were eating 30% protein as a carnivore then you would maybe consider having 25% as a vegan or vegetarian. After looking into a few vegan athlete’s diets there is a common theme that most of them aim for a protein intake per day of 0.8g – 1.2g per kg of body weight. One of the best bodybuilders says he eats 0.8g per day and not only wins all of his competitions but wipes the floor with everyone. 

Yes, we must take genetics and body types into consideration and not every individual is the same.  Body builders, such as Nimai Delgado, show how even those in a sport that relies on pure muscle building can still reach their goals and win lots of competitions all on a smaller amount of protein. Nimai says he eats 0.8g per kg of his bodyweight in protein. Food for thought. 

I guess the final thought then is, is protein overrated? Are we told to eat more than we need and are there detrimental effects if we do? The answers to these questions cannot be found on the internet without each being biased towards one side or the other. So I would suggest that you set yourself a target of a protein amount to eat for a set period of time and adapt it as you see fit to find an amount that works for you. 

Everyone is different so finding what works for you is key.

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash