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How Much Protein Is Required For My Activity Level?

Posted on April 17, 2014

How Much Protein Is Required For My Activity Level?Dividerimage

Protein plays an essential role in muscle growth and recovery and can assist with other important processes, such as immune function, appetite control and reducing stress levels. But how much should you take per day? 

According to nutrition expert Mike O'Donnell, the Recommended Daily Intake is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, so if you're looking for results - be they muscle growth, weight loss or stress therapy, this should be bumped up. The optimum dosage varies according to your body size, your goals, your diet and, most importantly, the amount and type of activity you do. Here are some useful guidelines.

Low level activity

Is your exercise regime dominated by low level activity? Do you tend to take on gentle gym routines that don't put too much immediate stress on your muscles? Or are you on a strict diet programme, where the focus is on cutting down on calories rather than bulking up? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then many experts that your protein consumption should be between 0.35 grams and 1 gram per pound of your body weight per day.

Moderate level activity

If you're engaging in moderate level activity, such as endurance training, go for about 0.5-0.9 grams per pound of body weight per day. As Matt Fitzgerald (2012) points out, the amount you need depends on just how much training you do. If you're running loads of kilometres, every day, opt for the higher end of the bracket, but if you're engaging in a fairly light workout, 0.5 grams will suffice. 

High level activity 

Finally, if you're taking on a seriously intense routine, your protein level should be increased significantly. For power and speed training, hover somewhere between 0.9 and 1.1 grams per pound. For body building, you'll need even more - between 1 gram and 1.6 grams per pound. And if you're going through any kind of recovery from trauma or injury, meaning that your muscles need extra nutrition, make it between 0.9 grams and 1.4 grams per pound. 

How to boost protein levels?

The easiest, most efficacious and most convenient way to promote protein levels in the body is by taking a protein powder. There's an array of them on the market, so make sure you choose one that's right for you. It should be made of premium quality ingredients and be sure to avoid any relevant allergens such as lactose or gluten. For a quick-absorbing protein, opt for whey - in isolate, concentrate or hydrolysed form. For a sustained release protein, try casein or milk protein. If you're a vegan, soy and pea proteins are both efficacious.

When is the best time to take protein?

Once you've worked out how much you need per day, it's a good idea to divide your protein dose into four. It's best when taken straight after a workout. At this time, your muscles are recovering from training and are hungry for nutrition, so any protein you consume is absorbed quickly, leading to rapid muscle growth. In addition, you can take it thirty minutes before exercising, thirty minutes before going to bed and first thing in the morning. This balanced approach means 24 hour nutrition and the added benefits of an active metabolism. 

References

Fitzgerald, Matt (2012), 'Protein and the endurance athlete', <http://triathlon.competitor.com/2011/03/nutrition/protein-and-the-endurance-athlete_22681> accessed 12 April 2014.

O'Donnell, Mike (ND), 'The truth on how much protein you really need per day to build muscle', The If Life, <http://www.theiflife.com/how-much-protein-per-day-build-muscle/> accessed 12 April 2014.