Protein best practices (4 essential tips)
written by Philip Stefanov | APRIL 19, 2022
We all know that eating enough protein is vital for muscle gain, recovery, and overall well-being. But might there be more to it than simply, “Get one gram of protein per pound of body weight.”? There is.
Here are four essential tips to keep in mind:
1. Rethink Your Protein Intake
Like most, you’ve probably heard the standard advice to eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight. The tip works great because it is simple to follow, and doing so would ensure that you’re getting all the protein your body needs.
But, according to research, our protein needs might be lower than we imagine. Instead of having that much protein, research suggests that 0.7 to 0.8 grams per pound might be more than enough (1).
So, if you weigh 190 pounds, that would mean consuming 133 to 152 grams of protein daily.
2. Spread Out Your Protein
In one paper from 2018, Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon examined the impact of protein distribution on amino acid oxidation (breakdown of building blocks for energy) and muscle protein synthesis (2).
“Based on the current evidence, we conclude that to maximize anabolism one should consume protein at a target intake of 0.4 g/kg/meal across a minimum of four meals in order to reach a minimum of 1.6 g/kg/day. Using the upper daily intake of 2.2 g/kg/day reported in the literature spread out over the same four meals would necessitate a maximum of 0.55 g/kg/meal.”
A simple way to follow the rule would be to divide your daily protein target into four doses, consuming them three to four hours apart.
Morning - 40 grams
Noon - 40 grams
Afternoon - 40 grams
Evening - 40 grams
Total: 160 grams
3. Get Your Protein From a Variety of Sources
Protein comes in two main configurations:
- Complete, which has enough of all nine essential amino acids
- Incomplete, which lacks one or more essential amino acids
Aside from getting enough total protein throughout the day, it’s also ideal to mix your sources to ensure an adequate supply of all essential amino acids. Getting enough of each amino acid is vital for stimulating muscle protein synthesis, leading to better recovery and more growth.
Folks with no nutritional restrictions don’t have to worry that much about variety. There are dozens of foods that will supply them with enough complete protein to cover their daily needs, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, etc. But, folks who don’t eat certain foods, such as vegans, should be more careful with their choices.
Vegans who struggle to reach their daily protein goals and consume plants primarily might consider vegan protein powders to support their intake.
4. Get Some Protein Before or After Training
You don’t necessarily have to eat protein before and after training, but you should have some pre- or post-workouts.
According to experts, there is a four to five-hour window for eating around your workout. For example, if you have a meal, wait two hours, and train for an hour, you should still have an hour or two before you have to eat to prevent muscle loss. But, if you have your pre-workout meal three or more hours before training and lift for 70 to 90 minutes, it would be best to have a post-workout meal as soon as possible.
In other words, the importance of your post-workout meal will depend on the timing, size, and overall composition of your pre-workout nutrition. The more you eat before training, the less you have to worry about eating right after workouts and vice-versa.
Thank you for taking the time! Until next week,
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