How much protein does an athlete need?
In Russia, the recommended norms for the amount of protein in the diet are approved by Rospotrebnadzor. The guidelines say that the protein requirement for adult men is 65 to 117 g per day and 58 to 87 g for women г. Given the average weight (70-90 kg for men and 60-70 kg for women), this recommendation means the use of 1.2-1.5 g of protein per day for every kilogram of body weight.
Note that this amount of protein does not imply that a person is actively involved in sports in order to build muscle or lose weight. Athletes need increased protein intake - and not only on the day of physical training, but also on rest days. Otherwise, without covering the daily norm of calories and the use of important amino acids, muscles will not be able to recover and growth.
That is why the source of protein in the diet of athletes also plays a role. The aforementioned recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor note that half of the protein consumed per day should be from high-quality sources of animal origin (milk, dairy products, eggs, meat and meat products, fish, seafood), and half from vegetable (cereals, vegetables, fruits).
The benefits of protein for muscle growth
Recall that any protein consists of amino acids, which serve as a kind of building tool for protein. Scientists identify 22 of the most important amino acids for metabolism, 8 of which must come from food. Depending on the presence (or absence) of these essential amino acids in food, protein sources are divided into complete and inferior.
Valine, leucine, isoleucine and lysine are the most important protein components for athletes. These amino acids are critical for metabolic processes in the muscles, especially for their recovery and growth. They regulate blood sugar, accelerate wound healing, and promote the regeneration of bones and muscle tissue. In addition, their sufficient use is necessary for the production of growth hormone.
The benefits of protein for weight loss
Numerous scientific studies show that following a high-protein (and therefore low-carb) diet is one of the best ways to lose weight². The use of high amounts of protein helps to reduce hunger, while at the same time accelerating metabolism. In addition, protein helps to avoid the return of lost weight after the diet.
Interestingly, the recommendations of the scientific community boil down to the fact that weight loss requires consuming more protein per day than when training to gain muscle. This is partly based on the fact that when carbohydrates are excluded from the diet (for example, on a carbohydrate-free diet or on a keto diet ), a certain proportion of calories should be replenished with protein products.
Protein Norms for Muscle Growth
With regard to specific figures, the international sports nutrition society recommends that most athletes consume about 1.4-2.0 grams of protein per day per kilogram of body weight. The daily norm can be increased to 2.3-3.1 g / kg during the low-calorie period, and the daily amount of protein above 3 grams per kg of body weight is recommended for drying and weight loss³.
It is important to note that the recommended standards include the use of the so-called “high-quality” protein - that is, animal proteins (including whey protein ), with a percentage of assimilation of the order of 93-96%. Proteins of animal origin are absorbed by the body by 62-80%, and protein from higher fungi is absorbed only by 20-40% ¹.
More protein - more muscle?
A number of scientific studies show that increased protein intake does not at all lead to accelerated muscle growth, as is commonly believed among bodybuilders. Let us make a reservation that, as before, we are talking about a balanced diet for mass gain, covering the body's needs for calories, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and microminerals.
On the other hand, increased protein intake (up to 3.5 grams per kilogram of body weight) is considered safe for healthy people without problems with the work of the kidneys or liver. The recommendations also include calculating the amount of protein based on the “dry” body weight - that is, minus the fat mass. In order to determine the weight of fat in the body, you need to know the percentage of subcutaneous fat .
High Protein Products
In most cases, the cheapest high protein foods are eggs, meat and fish. The decisive role is played by a significant amount of protein per 100 g (for meat it is about 15-25 g), as well as the presence of essential amino acids and the final percentage of assimilation. Sports nutrition, in turn, is one of the most expensive types of protein.
As for the protein content in plant sources, even a confident record holder, buckwheat, contains about 13 g of protein per 100 g of dry cereal. However, given the percentage of assimilation, this is equivalent to only 30-50 g of meat. Moreover, most other sources of vegetable protein both contain less protein and do not have essential amino acids in the composition of metabolism important for metabolism.
The cost of 1 gram of protein in food :
- Chicken eggs - 0.8-1.5 rubles
- Chicken - 0.8-1 rub
- Meat semi-finished products - 1.7-2 rubles
- Pork - 1.5-2 rubles
- Beef - 1.7-2 rub
- Fish - 1.5-2.5 rubles
- Milk - 1-1.4 rub
- Cheese and cottage cheese - 1-1.6 rubles
- Rice - 0.8-1 rub
- Beans - 0.5-0.8 rubles
- Macaroni - 0.3-0.6 rubles
- Buckwheat - 0.3-0.6 rubles
- Peas - 0.2-0.5 rubles
According to most modern recommendations, the consumption of 1.3–1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of “dry” body weight is enough for muscle growth and maximum stimulation of protein synthesis in the body. At the same time, the amount of protein can be increased by athletes during extremely intense training and during drying, which implies the rejection of carbohydrates and calorie restriction.
- Norms of physiological requirements for energy and nutrients for various groups of the population of the Russian Federation, link
- Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet, source
- International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise, source