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  1. #1
    Registered User UKstudent's Avatar
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    Question protein: ~1-1.8g per kg or per _pound_?

    Hi,

    I've looked through a lot of posts but can't get a consistent answer, so sorry for maybe covering old ground...

    I've looked at a few websites about how much protein you need to eat per day if bodybuilding, and there's an enormous disparity. The biggest difference I've seen is that some people suggest around 1-1.5g protein per _pound_ (lean) body mass, while others suggest a similar amount of protein (e.g. .8-1.8g protein) per KILOGRAM.

    Now, a pound is not the same thing as a kg! This would make a huge difference to how much I need (even at 1.8g protein/kg LBM, that'd still be 114.5g for me; but if 1g/POUND then it's at least 140g protein even on the 1g/1lb ratio). I'm about 140lbs (or 10st; or 63.5kg), and a hard gainer. I'm buying protein gainer powder, but it's expensive, and I don't want to take more than I need. I know I could just take loads, but I want to get value for my money, as I don't have much (and still put on muscle).

    So in short: how much protein per kg lean body mass? If you know of a reliable authority, even better.

    Thanks for any help!


    -----
    Websites I've consulted:[I can't post the links, as I've fewer than 30 posts]

    a) GoAskAlice [a Columbia University doctor, I believe]

    snippet from a): 'The RDA for protein has been established at 0.8 grams/kg of body weight for adults. This is not enough to build muscle mass for intense athletes. Although it's difficult to pinpoint a specific number because you have to take into account many variables, research has determined an acceptable range: even at the very high end, the top protein intake needs to be 1.5 - 2.0 g/kg of body weight. For our 180 lb. (divided by 2.2 = 82 kg) lifter, this would be 122 - 164 grams of protein per day. Since protein has 4 calories per gram, then this amount of protein would comprise 13 - 18 percent of his daily caloric intake of 3700 calories; the usual recommendation is about 12 - 15 percent. As you can see, a huge excess of protein is not needed. You can check out the chart below for some ideas about where to get your protein.'

    b) About.com [personal trainer writing for About.com]

    snippet from b): 'How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

    1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
    2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.

    Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.

    Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
    154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
    70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day'

    c) Howmuchprotein website [protein calculator on a bodybuilding-oriented site. I don't know who made it, but it goes by the 1-1.2g protein: 1lb [= 2.2-2.64g/kg] body mass ratio. It doesn't seem to state any particular authority for this number, though.]
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  2. #2
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    just try to get 1g per lb for now. should be fine with that
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  3. #3
    Registered User trapezoid's Avatar
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    That's a long question.

    It's per pound. 1-1.5g protein for every 1lb.
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    The correct answer: as much as your body needs to produce the changes you want.

    This could be anywhere from 1g-2g per pound of BW.

    Pick a number, stick to it consistently. If you don't see gains, try increasing it.
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    Registered User UKstudent's Avatar
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    Question

    Originally Posted by TBU720 View Post
    The correct answer: as much as your body needs to produce the changes you want.

    This could be anywhere from 1g-2g per pound of BW.

    Pick a number, stick to it consistently. If you don't see gains, try increasing it.

    Thanks for the replies (everyone). :-) Sorry for the long question!

    So if it's 1g/pound, then that means it's 2.2g/kg. Which is already 22% past the maximum that that doctor recommended just for bodybuilders, and it sounds like this 1g:1lb ratio is maybe a minimum for you guys (?). Is there any bodybuilding-related study that states this 1g/pound ratio? Of course, if I do take this much I'll be getting enough, but I'm just wondering why there's such a big difference between the two calculations.

    Example would be..:

    (for a 140lb guy)

    1.5g/_kg_ = 95g protein
    1.8g/_kg_ = 114.5g protein
    1g/*lb* = 140g protein <-- already a lot more than the other two

    Obviously if I have more than 1g/lb it'd be even more (1.5g-->210g protein; 2g --> 280g protein). This would be more than enough, but since I really haven't much money I want to get just 'enough' (it is kind of expensive eating/supplementing this much already).
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    Originally Posted by UKstudent View Post
    Hi,

    I've looked through a lot of posts but can't get a consistent answer, so sorry for maybe covering old ground...

    I've looked at a few websites about how much protein you need to eat per day if bodybuilding, and there's an enormous disparity. The biggest difference I've seen is that some people suggest around 1-1.5g protein per _pound_ (lean) body mass, while others suggest a similar amount of protein (e.g. .8-1.8g protein) per KILOGRAM.

    Now, a pound is not the same thing as a kg! This would make a huge difference to how much I need (even at 1.8g protein/kg LBM, that'd still be 114.5g for me; but if 1g/POUND then it's at least 140g protein even on the 1g/1lb ratio). I'm about 140lbs (or 10st; or 63.5kg), and a hard gainer. I'm buying protein gainer powder, but it's expensive, and I don't want to take more than I need. I know I could just take loads, but I want to get value for my money, as I don't have much (and still put on muscle).

    So in short: how much protein per kg lean body mass? If you know of a reliable authority, even better.

    Thanks for any help!


    -----
    Websites I've consulted:[I can't post the links, as I've fewer than 30 posts]

    a) GoAskAlice [a Columbia University doctor, I believe]

    snippet from a): 'The RDA for protein has been established at 0.8 grams/kg of body weight for adults. This is not enough to build muscle mass for intense athletes. Although it's difficult to pinpoint a specific number because you have to take into account many variables, research has determined an acceptable range: even at the very high end, the top protein intake needs to be 1.5 - 2.0 g/kg of body weight. For our 180 lb. (divided by 2.2 = 82 kg) lifter, this would be 122 - 164 grams of protein per day. Since protein has 4 calories per gram, then this amount of protein would comprise 13 - 18 percent of his daily caloric intake of 3700 calories; the usual recommendation is about 12 - 15 percent. As you can see, a huge excess of protein is not needed. You can check out the chart below for some ideas about where to get your protein.'

    b) About.com [personal trainer writing for About.com]

    snippet from b): 'How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

    1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
    2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.

    Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.

    Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
    154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
    70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day'

    c) Howmuchprotein website [protein calculator on a bodybuilding-oriented site. I don't know who made it, but it goes by the 1-1.2g protein: 1lb [= 2.2-2.64g/kg] body mass ratio. It doesn't seem to state any particular authority for this number, though.]
    This is pretty definitive, 1gr/lean body mass is a myth........

    Studies on Optimal Protein Intake
    All values in the bullet point list below are expressed as grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. All of these studies controlled for energy intake, either based on individual requirements or by setting energy intake to be equal in all experimental conditions, so that only the proportion of protein in the diet varied between groups. If the studies were based on unreliable methods such as nitrogen balance, a marker of lean body mass changes, I only included them if they controlled for sweating and dietary adaptation periods.

    • Tarnopolsky et al. (1992) observed no differences in whole body protein synthesis or indexes of lean body mass in strength athletes consuming either 0.64g/lb or 1.10g/lb over a 2 week period. Protein oxidation did increase in the high protein group, indicating a nutrient overload.
    • Walberg et al. (1988) found that 0.73g/lb was sufficient to maintain positive nitrogen balance in cutting weightlifters over a 7 day time period.
    • Tarnopolsky et al. (1988) found that only 0.37g/lb was required to maintain positive nitrogen balance in elite bodybuilders (over 5 years of experience, possible previous use of androgens) over a 10 day period. 0.45g/lb was sufficient to maintain lean body mass in bodybuilders over a 2 week period. The authors suggested that 0.55g/lb was sufficient for bodybuilders.
    • Lemon et al. (1992) found no differences in muscle mass or strength gains in novice bodybuilders consuming either 0.61g/lb or 1.19g/lb over a 4 week period. Based on nitrogen balance data, the authors recommended 0.75g/lb.
    • Hoffman et al. (2006) found no differences in body composition, strength or resting hormonal concentrations in strength athletes consuming either 0.77g/lb or >0.91g/lb over a 3 month period.

    Now, there are some old studies based on nitrogen balance that suggest higher protein intakes are beneficial, but, as I stated above, these studies were methodological abominations. Nitrogen balance is a notoriously unreliable method to assess changes in lean body mass, especially at higher amounts, and these studies didn’t control for sweating or dietary adaptation. Significant changes in dietary protein intake are known to result in negative nitrogen balance for up to 2 weeks after the change, even when sufficient energy and protein is consumed. Furthermore, these studies didn’t exclude androgenic-anabolic steroid users though they studied competitive athletes. (Tarnopolsky et al., 1988).It’s no wonder many of these studies didn’t get translated and remain no more than a shady abstract on PubMed, if they’re even featured on there.

    Based on the sound research, many review papers have concluded 0.82g/lb is the upper limit at which protein intake benefits body composition (Phillips & Van Loon, 2011). This recommendation often includes a double 95% confidence level, meaning they took the highest mean intake at which benefits were still observed and then added two standard deviations to that level to make absolutely sure all possible benefits from additional protein intake are utilized. As such, this is already overdoing it and consuming 1g/lb ‘to be safe’ doesn’t make any sense. 0.82g/lb is already very safe.

    But, But, But…!
    If you still think you need more than 0.82g/lb because you think you train harder than these test subjects, think again. Lemon et al. (1992) studied bodybuilders training 1.5h per day, 6 days per week and still concluded 0.75g/lb is the highest intake at which body composition benefits could occur.

    Another frequently heard objection is that people need more protein because they are more experienced than the studied populations. Well, Tarnopolsky et al. (1988) used elite bodybuilders and found that less protein was needed than in novice bodybuilders. In fact, the finding that the more experienced you are, the less protein you need, has been replicated in several studies (Rennie & Tipton, 2000; Hartman, Moore & Phillips, 2006; Moore et al., 2007). In everyone there is both constant protein synthesis and breakdown. Resistance training causes both breakdown and synthesis to increase, normally with a favorable balance towards synthesis. As you progress in your training, the body becomes more efficient at stopping the breakdown of protein resulting from training. Since less protein now needs to be replenished, this increase in nitrogen retention means less protein is subsequently needed for optimal growth.

    Secondly, the more advanced you are, the less protein synthesis increases after training. As you become more muscular and you get closer to your genetic limit, less muscle is built after training. This is very intuitive. The slower you can build muscle, the less protein is needed for optimal growth. It wouldn’t make any sense if the body needed more protein to build less muscle, especially considering that the body becomes more efficient at metabolizing protein.

    A final objection that is often heard is that these values may be true during bulking or maintenance periods, but cutting requires more protein to maintain muscle mass. Walberg et al. (1988) studied cutting weightlifters and they still found 0.73g/lb was sufficient to maintain lean body mass. There are those other, often poorly controlled, nitrogen balance studies again though that suggest more protein is required to maintain nitrogen balance when energy is restricted. However, these changes in requirements for nitrogen balance do not correlate with whole body protein turnover rates; moreover, cutting at a daily 1000 calorie deficit when eating 1.8g/kg (0.82g/lb) protein has been shown not to affect nitrogen balance or whole body protein turnover (Pikosky et al. 2008). Therefore, you do not need more protein to preserve or gain muscle when cutting compared to when bulking, not even during periods of drastic energy shortage.

    Also, the supposed difference in nitrogen sparing effects of carbs and fat are negligible (McCargar et al. 1989; Millward, 1989). Neither actually spares protein though. Only protein spares protein. I think the protein sparing idea came from a wrong interpretation of the nitrogen balance literature showing more lean mass is lost in more severe caloric deficits. A simple explanation for that finding is that the more total mass you lose, the more lean mass you lose. No surprises there.

    As such, there is simply no empirically substantiated reason to think we need more than 0.82g/lb of protein per day when cutting. If anything, you could reason the body should be able to use more protein during bulking periods, because more muscle is being built and a lot of other nutrients are ingested that may enable more protein to be used.

    The only people that may actually need more protein than 0.82g/lb are people with unusually high levels of anabolic hormones. Androgen or growth hormone users definitely fall into this category, but I don’t exclude the possibility that some adolescents do too. If you reach peak testosterone production while still growing (in height), your unusually high levels of growth hormone and testosterone might increase your protein requirements. Or not. There’s no research to support it. Those rare individuals with amazing bodybuilding genetics could also qualify, but unless your father happens to be a silverback gorilla, you are most likely just like other humans in this regard.

    This article in 6 words: Consume 0.82g/lb of protein every day.
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