How and Why Do I Eat So Much Protein? Mark BellMay 21, 2021
One of the most common questions Mark Bell gets is, “How do you get all that protein in with your diet?” Mark Bell explains how he fits in 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
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What Is Protein?
In nutritional terms, protein is one of the three primary macronutrients our bodies need to survive. It is a “macro” nutrient because, like carbohydrates and fats, we consume a significant amount of it and use it for fuel. We need a comparatively small amount of vitamins and minerals every day, so they are referred to as “micronutrients.”
Protein is contained in various combinations and quantities in every food we eat—even vegetables. Unlike all these other macro and micronutrients, your body can’t store it, so you have to get it consistently through the foods you eat, and/or the supplements you take.
What Are The Benefits of Protein?
You probably associate high-protein eating with people trying to gain mass. And that’s because it works! Diets that are rich in high-protein foods, in combination with resistance training, have been shown repeatedly to help athletes add or retain lean mass.
However, diets that include moderate or high-protein foods have plenty of other advantages. For one, as Jose Antonio, Ph.D., writes in the article “3 Myths about High-Protein Diets Debunked,” (https://youtu.be/carD3hvum64) “It’s very difficult to get fat if the only thing you overfeed on is protein.”
Most high-protein foods are themselves very low in fat and carbs. Chicken breasts have 2-3 grams of fat per serving, while cottage cheese has only 1-2 grams. Egg whites and fish are virtually fat-free, and in the case of fish, the fats they contain are often healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
High-protein diets can also help you lose unwanted weight. “Not only will this extra protein help you build more lean muscle mass, but it will also diminish your appetite, making you less apt to cave in to cravings,” says Jose Antonio, Ph.D. “[It] can help you lose weight because of its ability to act as a potent thermogenic agent. That means your body burns more calories digesting protein foods than
it takes to digest an identical amount of carbohydrate and fat.”
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The short answer: More than a food label will tell you. Maybe as much as double.
The U.S. government sets the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein, as well as for vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats, and carbohydrates. The RDA starts at a low of around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for sedentary adults 18 and over, or about 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. (The RDA for children is higher, at 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.)
This translates into 60 grams per day for a 150-pound person. But that doesn’t mean that’s the target you should be aiming for. For most active people and athletes, these guidelines are considered by most experts to be too low.
“A majority of researchers have been saying for decades that the RDA is well below where it should be—even too low for non-active people, let alone active people,” says Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., RD, the co-founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
In Bodybuilding.com’s Foundations of Fitness Nutrition Course (https://bbcom.me/342nJXC), Douglas Kalman, Ph.D., recommends a baseline intake of 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight for everyone, or 0.6 grams per pound, for all people. For a 150-pound person, that equates to 90 grams per day.
Of course, getting all of those grams in a single meal would likely leave you with a stomachache. For this reason, our experts recommend spreading them across several meals containing at least 20 grams, and as much as 40 grams. Once you calculate your ideal daily intake (https://bbcom.me/2RA3gH4), you can work backward to plan out your meals. You can also use our guide to show you what 30 grams of protein foods looks like from common sources.
00:00 – Intro
00:10 – 1 Gram of Protein Per Pound of Bodyweight
00:55 – Condensed Eating Window
02:55 – What Do I Eat?
03:38 – Problem with the American Diet
05:15 – Snacks are for Babies
06:55 – Vegetables
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