There is a ton of mixed information out there about how much protein you actually need. You might hear one thing from a nutritionist, and a completely different thing from a personal trainer. Many bodybuilders turn to protein supplements because it can be difficult to get enough in your diet purely from food sources, especially when you are doing a lot of weights/strength training and conditioning.
However, the way protein works in the body depends on many things, including the type of carbs and fat you are currently consuming.
Focus Instead On Having a Proper Balance of Carbs, Fat, and Protein
Unless you have the proper amount of carb intake in your diet, your body will instead use the protein for energy and less of that protein will even go to muscle repair and building.
So rather than focusing purely on getting all your protein in, it’s more important that you focus on a good daily balance of all your macronutrients – those being carbs, protein, and healthy fats, so that your body can work with all of these to establish what it needs to function optimally.
How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?
Dr. Andrew Weil, MD states that protein residues from the metabolism of protein can irritate the immune system and they make your digestive system work extra hard, which can in itself drain your energy.
Additionally, NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) recommends that strength athletes get 0.5–0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, and endurance athletes get 0.5–0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight. In their textbook for personal training they even cover the common occurrence of fitness professionals recommending too much protein.
It is true that bodybuilders DO need more protein than those who are sedentary, and even more than some other types of athletes. However it is wise to remember that even protein should be taken in moderation for optimal health.
What Kind of Protein Should You Be Consuming?
If you are trying to get additional protein in your diet, it is ideal to use a combination of both protein supplements and from food. A great way is to make a daily smoothie with healthy fruits and/or vegetables as well as your preferred protein powder.
Some great sources of protein: eggs/egg whites, fish, quinoa, meat, broccoli, greek yogurt and other dairy products, soybeans, tempeh, lentils, seafood.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the ingredients in protein powders and make sure there is not too much artificial sweetener (such as sucralose) or low-quality protein in the supplement you’re buying. Do your research – good protein powders can be expensive but are worth it for your health if it’s something you’ll be consuming daily.