People often ask me how to determine their optimal daily protein intake.
I immediately ask them their objective and body weight before giving them the optimal daily protein intake.
Basically, there are 4 objectives to consider:-
a. Survival- our bodies need roughly 0.8g of protein per lb of bodyweight
b. Maintaining- our bodies need about 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight
c. Bulking- our bodies need roughly 1.5g of protein per lb of bodyweight
d. Cutting- our bodies need roughly 1.25g of protein per lb of bodyweight
So, if you are 200lbs, you’ll need the following amount of protein daily based on the above four objectives:-
a. Survival- 160g daily or 26.7g per meal for 6 times a day
b. Maintaining- 200g daily or 33.3g per meal for 6 times a day
c. Bulking- 300g daily or 50g per meal for 6 times a day
d. Cutting- 250g daily or 41.7g per meal for 6 times a day
You’re probably wondering why the daily protein intake is divided into 6 equal portions. Well, there’s no way you can eat such amount of protein over 3 meals daily- you’ll be stuffed! You could as an alternative ingest protein shakes but not all the time as you need real food. The idea here is to constantly feed your body sufficient amount of protein so that it can absorb the same constantly to build muscles. Take too much protein at a meal and chances are your body will store it as fat. When you take protein periodically every 2 to 3 hours, your metabolic rate will be kept high throughout the day, which is good! I eat (protein included) 6 times a day and I consume a mix of real food and protein shakes.
You would also probably wonder why protein intake during cutting is more than during maintenance. Protein has a very high thermic effect of food (“TEF”)- how much energy your body has to burn to be able to use it. Carbs and fat have roughly 5% TEF. Protein has 20% TEF. That means if you eat 1,000 calories of protein, you instantly “lose” 200 calories as your body needs to burn that much just to be able to use that protein. Furthermore, when you are cutting, your body has to get energy from somewhere. It will get this energy from your body in the forms of adipose (fat), glycogen (carbs), and skeletal muscle (protein). This means, protein is very important when cutting as it helps burn itself off and when your body needs to extract energy, it helps minimize any loss from skeletal muscle (which you want to keep!)