I get tons of pushback from so-called “nutrition experts” for this recommendation: 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily, which equates to 300 grams of protein per day for a 200-pound individual. This is what I recommend for maximizing both muscle mass and fat loss.
My critics says that’s way too much protein, that anything over 0.75 to 1.0 gram per pound of bodyweight daily is overkill. Believe it or not, they say that 1.5 grams per pound per day won’t even help you gain more muscle. They call me crazy for recommending this!
Now, more is not always better, and you can certainly have too much of a good thing. I’ll give them that. But too much of a good thing does NOT start at 1.5 grams of protein per pound, much less 1 gram. Not when you’re a hard-training guy or girl with serious goals to build muscle, get stronger and maximize fat-burning.
I know this because I’ve been prescribing 1.5 (and up to 2) grams per pound for many years with feedback and actual data from hundreds of thousands of individuals who have experienced remarkable results from this level of protein intake. Aside from that, scientific studies performed by others support this position. And not just one study – several studies, dating back to at least 2001 (and covered in Part 1 of this article series).
One of the two most recent studies backing up my high protein recommendations comes from lead reseacher Jose Antonio in a 2016 issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. (The other brand new study, also published in 2016, is covered in Part 3 of this series.)
In the study, trained subjects were given one of two daily protein intake levels – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight or 1.5 grams – while following an 8-week training program. Because of the higher protein intake, the 1.5-gram group also consumed around 500 calories more per day, which makes sense.
The results of the study showed similar muscle gain between those consuming 1 gram of protein per pound daily and those consuming 1.5 grams – both groups gained an average of about 3 pounds of muscle over the eight weeks.
But here’s the key results from the study: The 1.5-gram group lost an average of 5 pounds of bodyfat during the eight weeks in addition to gaining muscle, while the 1-gram group showed no significant fat loss. Let me repeat these facts for emphasis: The group consuming 50% more protein and 500 more calories per day lost an average of 5 pounds more bodyfat.
This proves that bumping up your protein intake is not only good for adding muscle, but also stripping bodyfat for a leaner, more defined physique. Not that this should be a shock to anyone who’s followed the research and implemented high protein diets with thousands of individuals. Higher protein intake boosts metabolic rate. Studies have shown that people consuming a high protein meal have about a 20% increase in energy expenditure (metabolic rate) than those consuming a high carbohydrate meal.
Jim’s Take-Home Point:
When considering protein intake (not to mention any number of other topics), don’t just trust one source of information. What I mean is, look at the research, but don’t just take every protein study at face value, because so many of them contradict each other. As a scientist, I’ve learned how to interpret data, taking into account the physical state of the subjects (ie, trained versus untrained), the type of training program followed during the experiment, and a host of other important details and limitations in a given study.
In addition to the research, consider actual results you’ve experienced personally as well as results achieved by others. So many “experts” in this field won’t take any results seriously unless they’re published in peer-reviewed journals. Trust me, I like the journals. I subscribe to them, I’ve been published in them and I’ll continue to support them. But when I bump my personal protein intake from 1 gram per pound per day up to 1.5 grams per pound per day and see great results in size, strength and fat loss, I take that into account. And when I get the exact same feedback from hundreds of thousands of individuals bumping up their protein the same way and getting bigger, stronger and leaner as well, I’m sold.
In the case of high protein diets, specifically 1.5 grams per pound daily, the debate is over. Research proves it works, and so do the results we see every day by hard-training individuals following this recommendation.
Taking in 1.5 grams not only works better than 1 gram for building size, but it also helps burn more fat. Case closed.
Antonio, J., et al. The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition – a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. Int Soc Sports Nutr 13:3, 2016.