How Much Protein Do You Need?
The topic of how much protein you need daily to build or preserve muscle mass is the subject of great debate in the fitness industry, but the general consensus is that your intake should be a slightly higher when eating in a calorie deficit to help preserve muscle mass and slightly lower for maintenance or muscle building.
But what is this amount?
Well, research (2) shows that a protein intake between 0.6 – 0.9 g per lb of bodyweight is adequate for maximising protein synthesis. This same study also recommends that eating closer the 0.9 g per lb mark may be advantageous for those eating in calorie deficit to help preserve muscle mass.
Another study (3) found that 0.8g per lb of bodyweight is the optimal daily intake to promote muscle growth in those who perform regular strength training. The researchers of this study also noted that those who perform endurance as opposed to strength can get away with as little as 0.5 – 0.6 g per lb of bodyweight.
Finally, one study (4) concluded that their results were “unable to show any significant evidence indicating that protein intakes above 2.0 g per kg per day [was effective] for enhancing strength and body composition changes in college strength/power athletes.”
The bottom line
Optimal protein intake to build or preserve muscle mass is 0.6 – 0.9 g per lb of bodyweight, with the idea of sticking closer to 0.9 when eating in a calorie deficit and closer to 0.6 when eating in a calorie surplus.
How Much Carbohydrate Do You Need?
There is a lot of controversy surrounding carbohydrate intake, particularly in relation to fat intake BUT when it comes to intense resistance training you can’t go wrong with a moderate to high carbohydrate intake.
Let me show you why
Research (6) shows that glycogen stored in your muscles is the primary fuel source of moderate to intense exercise. Add to this research (7) that shows a sufficient carbohydrate intake that keeps your muscle and liver glycogen stores full can improve workout performance.
Not only this but research (8, 9) shows that when compared a low carbohydrate intake (approx. 220 g per day) against a high carbohydrate intake (approx. 350 g per day) resulted in more strength lost, slower recovery and lower levels of protein synthesis.
How much carbohydrate is enough?
As the answer will vary depending on your goal, starting weight and protein intake the best way to calculate your carbohydrate intake is to first allocate your protein and fat intake and then use all remaining calories from your daily allowance for carbs.
How Much Fat Do You Need?
Fat is an essential part of your diet but it is also the most calorie dense of the three macronutrients.
There are some fats (omega-3 & omega-6) that you need as an essential part of our diet that your body cannot produce and you need to obtain from food.
There is no doubt you need to include fat as part of your daily calorie intake, however, when training regularly and eating to maximise your results you’d be smart to eat enough fat to support overall health but not so much that you can’t maximise your carbohydrate intake.
How do you know how much fat this is?
The general recommendation and one I’ve used and given myself is to have approximately 30% of your daily calorie intake made up from fat.
For the most part, this is a solid strategy. However, depending on your daily calorie needs, making 30% of your daily calorie intake up from fat can lead to an unnecessarily high fat intake.
When this is the case, a recommendation of 15 – 20% of your daily calorie intake from fat is proposed. Ultimately, provided you get at least 0.3 g of fat per lb of fat-free mass you’ll be eating enough to maintain health. (10)
Macro Recommendations for Resistance Training
Based on personal experience, the experience of clients and the research available my macronutrient recommendations are as follows:
- Protein = 0.6 – 0.9 g per lb of bodyweight
- Fat = 15 – 30% of daily calorie intake
- Carbs = remainder of daily calorie intake
I understand everyone is different and not everyone has the same goals so there will of course be differences of opinion within the industry. Ultimately, it comes down to what you can stick to long-term, if for you that means following my recommendations, awesome, but if that means lower carb and higher fat then that’s ok too.
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