How much protein should you be getting?

Whether you train once or twice a week or every day of the week, your body needs protein to stimulate metabolism and maintain lean muscle health. Unless your protein intake is sufficient enough to support protein positive nitrogen balance in the body, replacement of old muscle tissue with new muscle tissue will be significantly reduced.

Protein Positive Nitrogen Balance for Men and Women Trainers

Fats and carbohydrates do not contain a nitrogen molecule. Protein is the only nutrient that contains a nitrogen molecule.

Why is this important to trainers? Most of the body's nitrogen is lost through urination--nearly 90 percent daily. Losing more nitrogen than you take indicates your nitrogen balance is entering negative territory. This also means you don't have enough protein in your body to promote muscle growth (anabolism). Consequently, a protein negative nitrogen balance can cause catabolism.

More specifically, muscle catabolism involves the breakdown of muscle tissue into amino acids. Although cells require amino acids to function properly, catabolism can promote loss of lean muscle mass and longer recovery times when left untreated.

How Much Protein Do You Need When Training?

Ask any male or female trainer what they consider the best protein supplement for building lean muscle mass and maintaining a healthy weight and they will tell you it's whey protein isolate.

Whey protein isolate is 90 percent protein, a full 10 percent more protein than found in whey protein concentrate. In addition, this type of protein supplement contains little lactose, fat or sugar. It also provides essential and branched-chain amino acids necessary for repairing muscles following a training session. One essential amino acid vital to enhancing muscle growth and muscle protein synthesis is leucine. Whey protein isolate offers rich amounts of leucine to help accelerate lean muscle tissue growth in men and women trainers.

For non-trainers, the recommended daily allowance of protein per pound is 0.4 grams. Naturally, the RDA of protein for trainers will be higher. Protein RDAs for light, medium and intense trainers are based separately on physical activity levels and weight. Additionally, protein RDAs for trainers generally include a safety margin range to prevent excess protein intake that could interfere with muscle growth and weight management.

Recommended daily protein intake for adults:

  • Sedentary adults--0.4 grams per day per pound (a 150 pound man or woman who gets little to no exercise has a protein RDA of 6.0 grams)
  • Light to medium adult trainers--0.5 to 0.75 grams per pound per day
  • Intense trainers/bodybuilders--0.6 to 0.9 grams per pound per day
  • Trainers on a diet--0.7 to 1.0 grams per pound per day

According to Dr. Louise Burke of the Australian Institute of Sport: "Consuming protein supplements following a workout is the best way to increase the ability of muscles to make new proteins. You should also consume another protein supplement or protein-rich food every three, four or five hours after your initial protein intake".

Trainers can boost the benefits of a whey protein supplement by also eating at least 20 or more calories per day per pound of body weight. Board-certified osteopath Dr. Robert Traux of the University Hospitals in Cleveland further recommends female trainers consume more than three grams of carbs per day and eat low-calorie fruits and vegetables at meals and as snacks for energy and immune system support.

Biohealth Nutrition is a leading provider of superior whey protein isolate supplement for anyone at any level of fitness. Plus, it's available in a variety of delicious flavors!

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