How can anyone know what optimal levels of protein are? Quite honestly, they cannot. There are a few ideas of what is the proper amounts of protein for persons. However, there are so many different kinds of people. Even within specified groups, needs can vary so greatly that it is impossible to know for sure. What we do know is that protein is essential to the body. We also know that protein is doubly important for those attempting to gain muscle and muscle-mass. However, to know what is optimal takes looking at a case-by-case basis and deciding what first a particular person’s needs. A six-foot marathon runner with carbohydrate sensitivity will have a much different optimal protein than a five-foot six Pacific Islander who does not compete in high-level competitions. Knowing the basic facts about what could be optimal levels is a good start to finding the optimal protein intake for you.
Looking at the Research
Let’s start with the basics. With more exertion of energy comes more need for protein. This should be simple to envision for anyone. When you see a highly active person, you will note they often have plenty of muscle on them (whether it is lean or dense). To supplement and maintain these muscles, this person needs a high level of protein. When you see someone who is not very active, they often have much less muscle on him or her. Even if the inactive person has little body fat due to their genetics, the amount of muscle on their body is often lacking. The inactive person simply needs less protein. Some research indicates that those who are highly active (like bodybuilders or intense athletes that train for size as necessity to their craft) must intake very high levels of protein. Some research indicates that more than two grams per pound of the person is necessary. This is because the nitrogen levels must remain positive in the athlete. Nitrogen remain in the positive so the muscles can be sustained and supplemented, else they will begin to degrade or break down.
Body weight and Protein Need
When it comes to the average person, around one gram per pound of body weight is the standard. IF someone is able to consume one gram per pound he or she weigh, then he or she should be able to cultivate the muscle. This assumes regular basic exercise and daily activities. However, for those looking to cultivate more muscle mass, a single gram per pound is likely not enough. Again, there tends to be a negative nitrogen level when severe physical exertion is experienced on a regular basis. Even more important is the fact that those who are just starting on their journey to cultivate muscle should not eat too much protein. For example, someone who weighs over two-hundred pounds, but is comprised for 30% fat should not eat two-hundred or more grams of protein, necessarily. The person is likely taking in far too many calories along with the 200 grams of protein and will not be capable of losing the proper weight to be healthy.
Percentage of calories
This method of figuring out your optimal protein intake needs is likely the most complicated. With the use of a physician, trainer, or nutritionist, it can also bring fine-tuned results. One must find out what their lean body weight is and then chart their daily calories as well as general protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake. With all of this information you can decide how best to fit the goals and milestones you wish to achieve. Usually the percentage of protein you intake will be in negative relation to the percentage of carbohydrates you cut out of your diet. This is because your body still needs the fuel to make it through your daily activities and workouts. While 30% is usually the rule-of-thumb for those participating in cardio activities, it can always change depending on your particular needs. The math necessary to decide what your protein intake should be is a little complicated but precise. You take your total number of calories and then multiply by the percentage of calories (30% is 0.30). Take the sum and divide by 4 (the number of calories per gram of protein) and you will have your allotted protein grams per day.
When More Protein Is Needed
It has been mentioned that there are situations and times where one may need more protein than others are. But when are these times? There are three basic instances where higher level of protein is needed. If you are attempting to gain muscle, then up your protein intake. That should have been obvious to anyone. You should also up your protein intake when you are implementing a low carbohydrate diet. This is because you need to supplement the energy utilized through carbohydrate intake. Finally, if you are “carbohydrate sensitive,” then you must up your protein intake. Carbohydrate sensitivity is a case when the body simply is not as capable of utilizing carbs. The body goes into a “survival mode.” It turns carbohydrates into fat due to blood sugar levels rising and too much insulin being released.
Deciding What’s Best for You
Regardless of how you decide to find your optimal protein intake, make sure you research and seek assistance. Physicians and nutritionists can help you devise a plan that works best for you, and allows you to have the most success. Professionals know that your body may work differently than others, and will also know the signs of a strategy that just is not working. Remember to listen to your body as well. If you find yourself with a lack of energy or drive, then make sure you note it. You may not be receiving enough protein, or have an imbalanced carbohydrate-to-protein relation. With a little guidance, you can find that protein level that is just right for you.