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Is the Hype About Protein For Real?

By MarvinJuly 29, 2015

Protein has been a total buzzword in the health, nutrition, and fitness communities for a while now. And, it’s no surprise (especially among health conscious folk like us) that protein is consistently promoted as the secret to sustainable weight loss, strength building, and muscle recovery.

Really, no matter where you go, everyone is talking about protein intake and finding optimal sources for your body, activity level, and fitness goals. You also can’t walk into any healthfood store without seeing a variety of  bars, shakes, and protein-rich foods to stave off hunger and keep you feeling full longer.

So, what’s all the hype about? Why is everyone so obsessed with protein?

Protein is arguably one of the most important aspects when it comes to building and sustaining a strong, lean physique.

The real question is: how much do you need depending on your body and wellness goals?

Well, there isn’t really one answer. Just like calorie intake and workout frequency, the amount of protein you should consume depends on your personal goals. Here are some general guidelines to get you started.

The basic recommendation from health professionals is to consume approximately .36 grams of protein per pound of body mass. However, this is the absolutely minimum amount of protein you need to eat per day in order to avoid protein deficiency and keep your body functioning properly.

For all of us (literally) working our asses off at Ascend Body, this isn’t the greatest recommendation because it doesn’t consider the amount you really need to facilitate weight loss, build lean muscle, and promote post-workout recovery.

In fact, this recommendation just doesn’t make sense for most non-sedentary people. For an active, healthy adult, the fitness community recommends consuming 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. That’s more than double the recommendation for the general public!

Now, let’s take it a step further. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re main focus is going to be losing extra body fat, not muscle, so it’s super important to eat high amounts of protein so your body can maintain as much muscle as possible. Plus, protein will help you feel full longer. Basically, the recommendation here is 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight and the suggested macronutrient breakdown is 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat.

If you’re trying to build muscle, there’s no doubt that protein is important. However, it’s also contingent upon carbohydrate consumption, especially post-exercise. The additional calories derived from foods rich in carbohydrates will stimulate muscle growth. Generally, you’ll want to consume 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight and the suggested macronutrient breakdown is 25% protein, 55% carbohydrate, and 20% fat.

If you’re an endurance athlete running long distances, competing in triathlons, or cycling more than 50 miles at once, you actually don’t need as much protein to sustain your activities. Since you’re burning a ton of calories during these longer bouts of exercise, your body actually needs higher amounts of carbohydrates and less protein. You’ll want to consume approximately .6-.9 g of protein per pound of bodyweight and your suggested macronutrient breakdown is 20-25% protein, 55-60% carbohydrate, and 20% fat.

Now that we know your body needs a significant amount of protein, what are the best foods to consume? Here are my favorite recommendations based on your individual dietary needs that will keep your body fueled and performing optimally!

Fish and Meat

  • Lean, locally-sourced meats such as ground beef, turkey, chicken, bison, and venison
  • Sustainably caught fish such as salmon, cod, and tuna

Vegetarian

  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Probiotic Greek Yogurt
  • Whey, egg, or casein protein powders

Vegan

  • Beans, peas, and other legumes
  • Pea, hemp, soy, or vegan protein powder blends

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