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What science says about protein consumption

Protein is one of the three macronutrients that form our diet. It is also known as the most satiating macronutrient as well as the fuel for muscle-protein synthesis (MPS). There has been much controversy as to how much protein one should consume. This article will try to answer the issue of protein consumption with a Singaporean (Asian) slant to it.

TLDR

  • Athlete + Lose fat → 1.5-1.8g/kg bodyweight
  • Athlete OR Lose fat → 1-1.5g/kg bodyweight
  • Sedentary + Not looking to change → 0.8g/kg bodyweight

How much protein to consume?

There are many scenarios and many guidelines on the internet. If you have dabbled in the online strength training community for a while, you would have noticed that the golden rule floating around would be 1g per pound of bodyweight, which would translate to 2.2g per kg of body weight.

Normal Person

That is really high. From personal experience and scientific studies, that is unnecessary for most people. According to the healthhub website, it is recommended that healthy adults take in around 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight. That aligns with the American recommendation as well. I personally believe that this is a good amount and will be suitable for most people.

However, if you want to change your body composition, or you are engaged in highly intense exercise on a regular basis, higher protein intakes will help with that.

If you one to lose weight, it makes sense to eat as little calories as possible, and you want to eat foods that will keep you full for the longest time possible. Thus, it would make sense to eat higher amounts of protein. Examine.com recommends 1-1.5g/kg. I agree with this range and I would tend on the higher side.

Athlete

If you are an athlete, eating more protein will help in your performance and recovery. When you are exercising, there will be micro tears in the fibres of your muscles. To sufficiently recover, your muscles need sleep and the peptides available from protein consumption. Thus, a higher protein consumption range is recommended as well.

Therefore, to all my fellow bulkers, no need for more than 2.5 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. It is unnecessary and it places your kidneys in unnecessary stress.

Strength Training

However, as a person who loves strength training and frequents the gym often. I find that sometimes, 1.5g per kg of bodyweight of protein is not enough. Personally, as a 70kg male, I try to attain a daily protein consumption of at least 120g. That would be about 1.7g/kg. This is purely based on personal experience. I find this number to be quite easy to attain for myself and a number that I see the best performance gains with.

The above recommendations are made by Examine.com, an independent research website which has really good information.

Benefits of a high protein diet

  • Augmenting muscle gain in conjunction with resistance training
  • Limiting muscle loss
  • Modestly limiting fat gain

From examine.com

“For rectal cancer alone (only 71 cases), significant (p < 0.05) protective effects were observed for high intakes of protein”

Study by H.P. Lee et al. on Singaporean Chinese

Drawbacks of a high protein diet

  • Can exacerbate pre-existing damage to liver or kidneys

From examine.com

“Higher level of protein intake was associated with increased odds of diabetes in this cohort of South Asian Indians”

Study by Erica T Wang et al. on South Asian Indians

“Women who consumed five or more servings of red meat per week also had a significantly increased risk of forearm fracture”

Study by Diane Feskanich et al. on women

Types of protein

There has been quite a lot of debate on what type of protein you should consume. Although there are arguments for either one, the economical and logical option for most people (assuming you have healthy livers and kidneys) would be whey protein.

I personally feel that vegan protein can be a good replacement, but their protein profile is often not as complete as whey protein. If you really want to opt for vegan protein, ensure that there is a good blend, which includes soy, rice and beans. They will help complement each other’s protein profile.

“A similar increase in risk was observed for animal protein, but no association was found for consumption of vegetable protein”

Study by Diane Feskanich et al. on women

Personal take on protein consumption

A high protein diet can bring many benefits to your life. However, do not over-consume protein, especially when you have pre-existing damage to your liver and kidneys. There has been many cases of gout formation due to excessive protein consumption and you do not want that painful thing to happen to you.

Personally, as a 70kg male, I (try to) consume 120g of protein a day. It has been going well for me, although I have cut down on that quite a fair bit during this CB period. Not only can’t I go to the gym, my appetite has also shrunk.

Don’t let the drawbacks of high protein consumption scare you. They are mainly targeted at people with pre-existing damage or excessive protein consumption. Based on personal experience and research, 99% of the population should keep their protein consumption with 1.8g/kg of bodyweight. Unless you are within that 1%, don’t worry too much and continue training.

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