In part 1 of my no bs protein 101 series, I showed you what happens if you don’t eat enough protein. Today you’ll discover one my best guesstimation tactics to find out how much protein you have to eat to lose fat and maintain muscle mass the right way.
Everybody’s giving out his or hers recommendations to what would be the optimal protein intake for your own body.
But the truth is… there’s no fixed value that’s a SET RULE. What I can tell you for sure is that I found an approximated value that will get you started the right way.
I mean, think about it. There’s no research out there to accurately point out a fixed number that would work for you.
When you want to cut down body fat and get a lean body composition, the first thing to set correctly are calories. Right after that, the next most important thing you have to take a close look is protein. And more exactly the amount of protein you should eat every day.
The exact amount of protein you have to eat to lose fat and maintain your muscle mass is not yet discovered by any research study.
Why knowing how much protein you should eat to lose weight is important?
- If you eat the right amount of protein or exceed it by a little bit, your body will have enough to maintain its muscle mass as you diet down
- If you don’t eat enough protein as you diet down, your body will be forced to feed itself from your stored amino-acids which also translates into muscle mass
Researchers found that the amount of protein you have to eat is variable. Let me show you what this means:
- Starting first, I want to present a study done by Val Loon and Phillips (1) that found out that a protein intake of 1.8-2.7 grams/body weight seems to be the sweet spot for most athletes that are dieting down. This study didn’t take a look at people that were already lean. So this means that we don’t know for sure if this range is still viable for slim guys like me.
- Kevin Tipton and Robert Wolfe came out with research (2) that shows that the optimal protein intake should be between 1.1 and 1.4 grams of protein per pound. This research was a summary of many other studies.
- Helms et al. (3) tried to estimate the sweet spot of protein intake for people that were already lean. He found out that higher intakes ranging from 2.3 and up to 3.1 grams per kilogram seemed the right spot.
And if we only base our assumptions on these findings, estimating a good protein intake would be simple. But what happens when other researchers found out that a lower protein intake might be enough?
As with the case of Stuart M Phillips, Ph.D. (4) which found out that a protein intake of 0.63 and up to 0.68 grams per pound should be enough for athletes involved in strength sports.
So who’s right?
I’m not going to list each and every one of them here because I think I made the point clear.
Nobody knows what’s the MAGIC number. Nobody knows EXACTLY how much protein you should eat in order to lose weight and maintain muscle mass.
But after experimenting with low and high protein intakes through my years of dieting, I came to a conclusion: A good starting point for you should be at 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram.
To put this into perspective of my latest experiments was training twice a day in an attempt to lean bulk my way up to 183 pounds from 180. And it was successful. I went from 180 to 182.6 pounds in 4 weeks. You can see the results in the picture above.
Guess what allowed me to do this lean bulk and succeed?
A proper protein intake.
As per this guide, my starting point was at 2.2 grams per kilogram, and every week I reviewed my progress and adjusted. The take-home point is that you will probably have to adjust as you go.
All you have to do is to START from this number. And depending on how you progress, you should adjust the protein intake for your case.
It all depends on how fast or slow you want to diet down. More than that, you now know there’s nobody that found there’s a fixed number.
Experiment based on your progress. You might be fine with a lower value or you might need an increased value.
In my 90 days permanent lean body transformation program, I included calculators inside each lessons, to make it easier for my students to adjust their protein intake based on progress.
In the next article, I’ll show you 5 reasons why you have to increase the protein in your diet. Keep tuned
- Phillips SM, Moore DR, Tang JE: A critical examination of dietary protein requirements, benefits, and excesses in athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2007, 17 (Suppl): S58-S76.
- Tipton KD1, Wolfe RR, Protein and amino acids for athletes. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):65-79.
- Helms ER, Zinn C, Rowlands DS, Brown SR: A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013
- Stuart M Phillips, PhD Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports