How Much Protein Is Too Much in Bodybuilding?

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It is true that bodybuilders and weightlifters need to maintain protein in their diet to maintain or build large muscle mass. While it would be fair to assume that you need to eat large amounts to build massive muscle, this is rarely the case. In fact, eating too much protein can do more harm than good.

General principles of diet

The daily requirements for protein, fat and carbohydrates are suggested by the nutrition authorities of each country.

In the United States, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP)—a subsidiary of the Department of Health and Human Services—makes recommendations together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 5 years once, the latest recommendations are included inside 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

As part of its guidelines, the ODPHP recommends protein intake of 10% to 35% of total daily calories for women and men over 18 years of age.

Although more calories are needed when training, a bodybuilder’s protein intake will still be in this range. A 2017 study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition advocates consuming protein at the top of the scale, a recommendation repeated by many trainers and fitness enthusiasts.

Calorie method

Many bodybuilders will use the grams per calorie formula to guide their protein consumption. While some trainers will calculate based on 35% of total calories, others confirm 30% or less based on your current level of training.

Assuming that a 200-pound bodybuilder might need to consume up to 4,000 calories per day, protein would make up 1,200 of those (4,000 calories x 30% = 1,200 calories).

Since one gram of protein equals 4 calories, that means a 200-pound bodybuilder should consume about 300 grams of protein per day (1,200 calories ÷ 4 calories/gram = 300 calories).

Limitations and Considerations

In case you were wondering, 300 grams is actually a lot of protein. For reference, 300 grams of protein is equivalent to 7.5 ounces of chicken (60 grams), a 12-ounce (85-gram) steak, two 6-ounce (80-gram) cans of tuna, half a dozen eggs (35 grams). ), 3 cups milk (25 grams) and 7 ounces tofu (15 grams).

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Your body weight and training goals will change your actual protein needs, making this math more general than specific.

Furthermore, most sports nutrition governing bodies will require you to consume no more than twice the recommended daily amount of protein (RDA) than other adults of your age and gender. . For an adult 31 to 50 years old, this can range from 150 grams (for a 2,000-calorie diet) to 225 grams (for a 3,000-calorie diet) of protein per day.

Given this wide range, there is an alternative calculation method that may be more suitable for you as a bodybuilder.

Body weight method

While the protein requirement for an adult male is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, Many clinical trials suggest consuming 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (gm/kg/day).

However, for bodybuilders with the leanest body fat percentage, the requirement for protein is between 2.3-3.1 g/kg of body weight. For a 200-pound (90 kg) bodybuilder, using 2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight translates into 225 grams of protein per day (90 kg x 2.5 gm/kg = 225 gm). ).

Limitations and Considerations

There are some who would argue that 225 gm/day is still too much for anything but extreme competition training. For example, consider that the average 200-pound adult male only needs 72 grams of protein per day (90 kg x 0.8 gm/kg = 72 gm), according to the protein recommendations provided by the NIH’s DRI and USDA. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

On an ongoing basis, it’s hard to justify tripling your protein intake. This is especially true if you follow the advice that you should not consume more than twice the daily allowance of protein than other adults of your age and gender.

For a 200-pound bodybuilder, that translates to 180 grams per day (90 kg x 2.0 gm/kg = 180 grams). While this is still more than double the recommended amount for a sedentary 200-pound adult male, it can be appropriate when actively training for competition.

Risk of excess protein

There are fitness and weightlifting trainers that can confirm protein intake of 40% of your daily calories. For a bodybuilder on a 4,000-calorie diet, that means 400 grams of protein per day (4,000 calories x 40% ÷ 4 calories/gm = 400 gm).

Honestly, there is no scientific evidence to support this dietary approach. No matter how hard you train, the fuel your body will burn first is not protein or fat, but glucose derived primarily from carbohydrates.

Since a bodybuilder’s diet is usually high in carbs, you’ll usually have more than a good supply of glucose and glycogen (the storage form of glucose) for your workout. Too much protein is rarely helpful.

Supplemental protein is not used effectively by the body and can cause concern for your kidneys. This is especially true for people with underlying kidney disease or at risk for kidney disease. Proteinuria (protein in the urine) is a sign of kidney damage. If you’re at risk for kidney disease, you probably shouldn’t consume more than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Regular kidney function testing may also be recommended.

Furthermore, a high-protein/high-meat diet was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease with high consumption of processed and non-lean meat. In essence, you can be the role model of fitness but still be at risk for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart attack, and stroke later in life.

Finally, when a high protein intake is used, more fluid intake will be required to help the kidneys filter out excess waste products from consuming too much protein. In addition, it is necessary to consume more vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is responsible for protein metabolism.

Increased fluid intake is needed to help the kidneys filter out excess waste products from consuming too much protein, while an increase in vitamin B6 is needed for protein metabolism.

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Fast and slow protein

The rate at which protein is converted into amino acids and absorbed into the muscles can vary depending on the type of protein. There are some bodybuilders who will tell you that a “fast” protein like whey is superior to a “slow” protein like casein in that you can consume more and build muscle faster. For example:

  • Protein in eggs is absorbed at a rate of less than 3 grams per hour.
  • Casein is absorbed at a rate of 6.1 grams per hour.
  • Whey is absorbed at a rate of 8 to 10 grams per hour.

There isn’t much evidence that these variations make a big difference in building muscle in the long run. Furthermore, if a protein is metabolized and absorbed at a rate, such as 7 grams per hour, you will only absorb about 168 grams per day.

With these restrictions, the type of protein you consume really shouldn’t make too much of a difference from how much you can reasonably consume. Some whole-food proteins can be just as good — or even better — and cost much less.

One advantage that casein and whey products offer, in addition to convenience, is that you may not have to consume as much as some whole food products. Additionally, consuming 30-40 grams of casein 30 minutes before bed has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis, muscle recovery, and overall metabolism in acute and long-term studies.

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