Protein intake is a controversial issue in nutrition. When it comes to resistance training, recommended protein values are often much higher than the standard recommendations given for active people. This excellent meta-analysis of scientific reports on protein consumption, and here's a summary of the report findings.
Based on this meta-analysis:
- People training for strength and endurance and strength athletes need more protein
- More than .75 grams per pound of body weight does not seem to provide any additional benefit except for adolescents
- Adolescents derive benefits up to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
- Muscle protein synthesis is maximized at 25 grams of protein
- Consuming more than 25 grams of protein at once does provide any additional benefit
- This means smaller meals of no more than 25 grams protein equally spaced is best for promoting muscle growth
- Essential amino acids (EAA) are better at triggering muscle growth
- EAAs they are more effective when taken immediately after a workout
- Eating more protein than you need can stress the kidneys over time
- The older you get, the less efficient your body becomes at processing protein
Research has also shown that in the case of limited calorie diets, and especially lower carbohydrate diets, protein intake is even more important. What this means is that if you are limiting calories to lose weight, eating the max amount of protein per pound of bodyweight (.75 grams) is very helpful and can help with lean mass retention.
Higher levels of protein also help with not feeling hungry, and provide benefits with blood sugar control.
Although you can get away with consuming very low levels of fat for short periods. in the term your body needs dietary fat to maintain health. Fat is essential for controlling controls free radical damage and inflammation, especially that resulting from high intensity training.
The numbers below concern total fats, not essentials fats. Essential fats, also called essential fatty acids, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. These fats are essential for body processes and are know as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
There are three main types of fat in food: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in:
- Olive, peanut, and canola oils
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans
- Seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds
Polyunsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in:
- Sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils
- Flax seeds
- Canola oil (also a good source of polyunsaturated fat)
When it comes to saturated fats, even healthy foods like chicken and nuts have small amounts of saturated fat, though much less than the amounts found in beef, cheese, and ice cream. Saturated fat is mainly found in animal products, but coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil are also high in saturated fat. For decades, saturated fat was considered harmful and a major causative factor in coronary heart disease, but in recent years several studies have suggested that diets high in saturated fat don't raise the risk of heart disease. Nevertheless, it's recommended that you replace saturated fats with mono- and polyunsaturated for health.
But how much (total) fat should you eat:
0.4 - 0.7g per pound of bodyweight
If you are dieting, you can reduce fat intake further, but for health reasons, going below 0.3g per pound of bodyweight is not advised.
Try to get the majority of your fat from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources.
Carbohydrates are important, especially for athletes and people who exercise, and even more so for individuals trying to gain mass. Unlike protein and fats, your body doesn't have any specific carbohydrate requirements. For most people, simply filling on your remaining calories after calculating your protein and fat intake with carbohydrates will work fine.
For most people, it is sufficient to find the calories remaining after subtracting fat and protein calories from your TDEE. A gram of protein has 4 calories, a gram of carbohydrates has 4, and a gram of fat has 9.
Carbohydrate calories = Total Calories - ((protein grams x 4) + (fat grams x 9))
If you're looking for more concrete guidelines, here are some to go by based on your activity level. In this case, calculate your carbs first, and then your protein and fats.
- Moderately active: 2 - 3g per pound of bodyweight
- Highly active: 3 - 4g per pound of bodyweight
- Extremely active: more than 4g per pound of bodyweight
Once you calculate your carbohydrates, determine your protein and fats using the guidelines above for the calories remaining in your TDEE.