Protein - How much and when?
Whether you're a gym rat looking to optimize your #gainz or a busy parent trying to stay healthy and live your best life - YOU NEED YOUR PROTEIN. Protein is part of a healthy, balanced diet and is available in many forms. Also, in addition to the muscle-building benefits of protein, it's also extremely satiating. This means protein will keep you fuller for longer compared to fats and carbs. Here are some tips on making the most out of your daily protein intake:
How much protein do you need?
It depends! It depends on your current body composition and your goals. As a general rule of thumb, though, you should aim to consume 20%-30% of your daily calories from protein. And, in terms of daily grams, shoot for between 0.5 and 1.0 gram per pound of body weight. The higher end of this scale is directed towards individuals who weight train consistently and are looking to increase muscle size and strength. Here are some examples:
Profile: Cyclist / 150 lbs / Looking to maintain body composition
Recommended protein intake: at least 75 grams daily
Profile: Strength-trainer / 150 lbs / Looking to increase muscle mass
Recommended protein intake: at least 150 grams daily
If you're looking to calculate the amount of protein to consume based on the percentage of your daily calorie intake, then first you'll need to determine the total amount of calories you should be eating & drinking. There's a great article at builtwithscience.com that walks you through all the details of calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and your recommended caloric intake. Check it out here.
When should I be eating protein?
As a general rule, you should aim to spread out your protein consumption throughout the day. This allows you to maximize muscle protein synthesis as well as ensures that your body is absorbing (and utilizing) the maximum amount of the protein you've consumed as possible. The best way to achieve this is to consume 4 meals daily, or 3 meals with a high protein snack (like a protein-packed smoothie). You'll be full throughout the day and you'll be making the most of the protein you consume. Here's an example meal plan:
Profile: Very Active (cardio & weight training) / 115 lbs / Looking to maintain muscle and decrease fat
Example Meal Spread: 1550 cal a day with 115 grams of Protein
Breakfast - 410 cal meal w/ 31 g protein
Lunch - 360 cal meal w/ 27 g protein
Post-workout smoothie - 290 cal meal w/ 22 g protein
Dinner - 490 cal meal w/ 35 g protein
Pro-tip: Divide your protein intake for your last meal between dinner and a high-protein dessert! A homemade banana "ice cream" with casein protein powder is delicious, satisfying, and perfect for pre-bed time nutrition.
Keep a lookout for our next article breaking down fast-digesting vs. slow-digesting proteins!