Protein, one of, if not the most talked about macromolecules. It makes up about 15% of the human body and about a third of everything we eat. Despite this, so much of what is commonly known about protein is far from accurate.
If you've spent any amount of time in or around fitness groups or in the gym, it's almost impossible not to hear someone share tips and tricks about protein that they'll swear by, but fact of the matter is, most of them are simply false. Things like “drink your shake asap post workout” or “you can only absorb 20g of protein per meal”, all of which have little to no scientific evidence to support them.
In this article we're gonna take a look at scientifically proven protocols to make sure your protein consumption is on point and you get the most out of your consumption. To make reading easier, the points and topics in this article are going to be listed in order of highest to lowest importance as they relate to getting the most out of your protein consumption and giving you the greatest anabolic response possible to build as much muscle as you possibly can.
How much protein should I get?
You may have heard many magical numbers for how many grams of protein to get per day. Some sources say as little as 10% of your daily calories coming from protein is fine for the average adult human while others in the keto community swear by getting no less than 50% of your total daily calories from protein. Despite all the mixed information, the truth is… It depends.
How much protein your body requires is heavily based on your goals. Considering you're reading this article we’re assuming it's safe to say you have some sort of fitness goal. Whether it's to gain muscle, to lose fat or to do both at the same time, your nutritional and protein requirements depend completely on your fitness goals. Well go over a few cases here and show you how and why they affect how much protein you need.
Counterintuitively, protein requirements when you're in a bulking phase are actually relatively lower than that of a cutting phase. This is because your overall caloric intake is much higher meaning you have more readily available energy to use like glycogen, body fat and other sugars and fats from your diet. Because of this, your body is far less likely to break down muscle as a source of energy. Many studies have found the optimal protein range for bulking to be 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body mass.
As shown above, your protein requirements while cutting are going to be relatively higher as compared to in a bulking phase since you'll have less calories to rely on, thus making your body more likely to break down muscle for energy. Studies have shown that the ideal range from protein intake during a cutting phase is 1-1.2g of protein per pound of body mass.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, recomp stands for recomposition. This is essentially a phase where you eat your maintenance calories so your weight doesn't fluctuate drastically, however your body composition changes as you decrease body fat and increase muscle mass. In this state you are unlikely to break down muscle as an energy source since you're still consuming your maintenance calories so it's recommended to get about 1g of protein per pound of body mass.
How spaced out should my consumption be?
There's much discussion about a maximum threshold amount of protein that can be absorbed and used by the body in a single meal. Although many say the max is about 20g, there's many studies that show enhanced muscle growth and anabolic response when people consume more than 20g of protein per meal.
Although some studies have shown a plateau in anabolic response after eating meals containing over 50g of protein, it has also been repeatedly observed that a higher protein diet with fewer meals still results in more muscle growth and anabolic response than a lower protein diet consisting of a higher number of meals.
What are the best sources of protein?
This question deals with 2 primary factors; one is which sources are highest in essential amino acids, which are basically building blocks of protein which can only be obtained through diet and eating things. And the second factor is which foods are highest in leucine. Leucine is an amino acid that stimulates the metabolic pathways needed for building muscle. Without leucine. An increase in protein consumption is highly unlikely to result in any noticeable effect in terms of building muscle.
Luckily for us, most foods which are high in protein content are also sufficiently high in leucine and amino acid content. Foods that are highest in both essential amino acids and leucine are mostly animal sources of protein like various meats and isolated protein powders like whey and vegan whey.
When should I take my protein for optimal results?
The best time to take your protein is… whenever you can. There has been little to no evidence to support any kind of post workout protein window for optimal results. In fact, many studies have shown optimal muscle growth response to be when your pre workout and post workout meals are within 6 hours of each other, basically debunking the whole infamous “anabolic window” gym bros always talk about. Considering most people eat breakfast around 8am and eat lunch around 12, maintaining a regular 3 times a day eating schedule essentially ensures you'll get optimal muscle growth from your protein timing.
In summary, if we want you to take one thing away from the above article it's to get your required amount of protein. Although so much complication is added to the topic of protein it really is not as complicated as people make it out to be. Even if you ignore all the other factors relating to protein absorption and timing and sources, if you take about 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body mass you'll be sure to be on track to your fitness goals, given the rest of your diet and training is on point.
Some secondary factors to keep in mind once the amount of protein you're getting is on point are; space out your protein consumption between 3-5 meals if possible, get your protein from primarily animal or isolated powder sources and finally, keep your preworkout and postworkout meals within 6 hours of each other.
We hope this article about protein consumption has helped you in your journey towards your fitness goals and helps clarify some of the confusion around the infamous macromolecule. For more information about how much protein, fats and carbs you need and your caloric requirements based on your body type and fitness goals, be sure to check out our macro calculator at https://www.bergfit.ca/macrocalculator. The BergFit macro calculator gives you a free macro and calorie plan specific to your body and goals and will also get you 10% off any order from our website for a limited time.
Also on the topic of protein, be sure to check out our newly launched protein plans! Consisting of lean chicken breast, seasoned and prepared with our delicious signature BergFit recipes, these plans are sure to get you all the protein you need, regardless of your fitness goals! Order your protein plan now with the following link **link***
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