You’re killing it in the gym. You’ve got your carbs, fats, and micronutrients on point. The next, and possibly most critical question you should be asking is…
HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD I BE EATING EACH DAY?
You’re trying to build as much lean muscle mass as possible, right? You’re also trying to get lean and shed bodyfat, yes?
Well, listen up!
As far as macronutrients go, protein is king. Since it breaks down into its component amino acids when digested and absorbed, your body is able to use those aminos to build any tissue, hormone, carrier protein, or enzyme it needs. Eating protein makes you feel full longer, so you’ll tend to eat fewer total calories each day, which can help create the energy deficit needed to lose weight (especially visceral fat). Protein has a slightly higher thermic effect during digestion, which means that it takes more energy to break down protein into its component amino acids than it does for other macronutrients. As a result, you burn a bit more energy in the digestion and absorption of proteins.
So, how much?
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the guidelines are to consume 1.8-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. To dumb it down a bit, that’s about one gram of protein per pound. If you weight 135 lbs, shoot for 135 grams.
Here’s a neat fact:
If you consume a bit less today (say 100g), but consume more tomorrow (say 170g), you’re still good. Your body has a pool of amino acids that it will pull from in order to repair tissues and create new proteins. Don’t get crazy with the numbers.
To give you an idea of how different foods compare in protein values, I’ve given some examples below. Keep in mind, a 3-4 ounce serving of high quality, organic animal protein is about the size of your palm. Here you go:
Grass Fed Ground Beef/Sirloin Steak-23 grams protein
Chicken Breast-35 grams protein
Lamb (leg)-27 grams protein
Wild Caught Salmon-23 grams protein
Grass Fed Ground Bison-25 grams protein
So, there it is. Your body’s really good at protein digestion and absorption, so don’t worry about how much you eat at each meal. Hell, there’s even a trendy diet that people follow where they eat exclusively animal protein sources (Carnivore Diet).
As a general guideline:
Men, opt for 2 palm sized portions of lean animal protein 3x/day (more if you need)
Women, opt for 1 palm sized portion or lean animal protein 3x/day (more if you need)
Now, go be the omnivorous ape you were meant to be!!!