Does Protein Timing Really Matter for Recovery & Performance Gains
Does Protein Timing Really Matter for Recovery & Performance Gains?
The title says it all: Does protein timing really matters for recovery & performance gains? In the past few years there have been many studies done on the topic of protein intake and its effects on muscle growth. Some studies show no effect while others show a positive one. While some research shows that higher protein diets are better than lower ones, other research suggests that the opposite may be true too.
As far as I’m concerned, the best way to determine if your diet is high or low in protein is to do a simple calculation. If you want to lose weight then you need to consume less calories than you’re burning.
So how much do you think it would take for your body to burn off those extra calories? How about if you wanted gain muscle mass? Well, how much more energy will it require for your muscles to grow? And what about protein? Will it actually increase your strength and size?
If you don’t care about any of these questions, then go ahead and read on. But if you do, then here’s how to calculate the amount of protein needed for optimal results.
How Much Protein Do You Need For Best Results?
I’ve calculated the required daily amounts based on a 2,000 calorie diet (2 grams per pound of bodyweight). The higher the number of calories you consume, the more protein you need.
I’ve also made some assumptions as to whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle mass. This makes some difference because to build muscle mass, you need a surplus of calories (more than you burn off), while for losing fat, a deficit is needed (more than you consume).
So here are the daily recommendations for both gaining and losing weight (higher if you exercise intensely). If you want stronger, larger muscles, then you’ll see that it requires more than just “1g per lb” of body weight.
Gaining Muscle Mass:
Between 2,000 – 3,000 calories: 0.8 g protein per pound of body weight
0.8 g protein per pound of body weight Between 1,500 – 2,000 calories: 0.9 g protein per pound of body weight
0.9 g protein per pound of body weight Between 1,000 – 1,500 calories: 1 g protein per pound of body weight
Between 2,000 – 2,500 calories: 0.6 g protein per pound of body weight
0.6 g protein per pound of body weight Between 1,500 – 2,000 calories: 0.7 g protein per pound of body weight
0.7 g protein per pound of body weight Between 1,000 – 1,500 calories: 0.8 g protein per pound of body weight
How To Use This Information
You now know exactly how much protein you need to either lose fat or gain muscle mass. I know that many of you will want to exactly follow these guidelines to the dot, but I don’t necessarily think that this is the best approach. Here’s why.
Not everyone’s calorie requirements are the same. For example, if you’re a regular guy with a desk job, then you’re probably eating around 2,400 calories per day. If you’re trying to lose fat then you’ll probably want to eat around 1,600 calories per day (I know this seems low, but trust me, it’s all your body needs). That means that your protein intake should be somewhere between 0.6 g and 0.8 g per pound of body weight.
But for a guy like a bodybuilder or a professional athlete who exercises for several hours a day and burns 3,500 calories per day, then his protein intake should be between 1.2 g and 1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight. In both cases, the rule of 0.8 g of protein per pound of body weight is just a good starting point to see if you’re getting enough protein in your diet.
A good example would be a 180 lb man who exercises regularly and has a desk job. So his calorie intake is around 2,400 calories per day, which means he should consume between 180 grams and 270 grams of protein per day. He could easily do this by eating 3 scoops of Protein Creations (each scoop contains 30 grams of protein) and two cups of skim milk each day.
By now you’re probably wondering how the hell all this protein is going to fit into your diet. Don’t worry; this will all make sense when we get to the meal plan section.
Now, as I said earlier, I don’t think that it’s necessary for most people to follow these exact guidelines. In fact, as long as you’re somewhere in the range of your target numbers (e.g. you eat somewhere between 0.6 and 1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight), that’s all that really matters.
Just understand that when you want to achieve a specific goal (such as building more muscle or losing fat), then you may need to adjust these numbers a little bit.
Protein Powders: Protein powders can be a great way to make sure that you’re eating enough protein every day. But not all protein powders are the same. Some don’t taste very good, and some are very expensive.
So what’s the best protein powder?
The best tasting, most affordable one!
The brand that I used for the above numbers is Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein. One scoop contains 20 grams of protein and only costs $0.93 at Vitamin Shoppe (price will probably be different at other stores). It tastes pretty good when mixed with skim milk and tastes just like chocolate milk. I usually have one scoop in the morning with one cup of skim milk and another in the afternoon or before I go to the gym with one cup of skim milk.
It’s really convenient because I never have to make a separate trip to the grocery store to buy eggs, tuna or anything else. If I run out, then I can just get more from my apartment.
You don’t have to follow my recommendation; follow the protein powder that you like. But remember that getting enough protein every day is really important for losing fat and building muscle.
Weightlifting and Muscle Building Myths
There are a lot of myths about weightlifting that are spread by the media on a regular basis. The biggest one is that you need to “bulk up.” Listen, if you’re a man and you’re not taking steroids then it is impossible for you to get “huge muscles.” You might bulk up a little bit (I’ll explain what this means later), but you’re not going to get truly big.
Forget about the media hype; the average person is never going to achieve the type of physique seen on the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine. It’s just not going to happen even with proper weight training and nutrition. So if this is your goal then you’re going to be very disappointed and you’ll probably put weight training and bodybuilding on the backburner until you reach your 60s and suddenly need to start losing a lot of fat and building some muscles before your naked birthday party.
You also need to forget about all those before and after photos you see in muscle magazines or in online advertisements. Those people in the before photos are nearly always unfortunately skinny fat/out of shape individuals. And the after photos are taken many months after their transformation when they’ve reached their goals.
The reality is this: If you’re skinny and weight train, you’ll look more muscular and leaner (and you might gain a little size, but not much). If you’re overweight or fat and weight train, you’ll look more muscular and leaner (and you might lose a little bit of fat, but not much). If you’re average and weight train, you might gain a little bit of muscle and look more muscular and leaner. If you’re a woman, you won’t look like the women you see in magazines no matter how hard you try. If you’re a man, you won’t look like the men you see in magazines no matter how hard you try.
To achieve such a goal would require the use of anabolic steroids and these are illegal for reasons that should be obvious.
So what’s the point of weight training and putting yourself through this torture?
The reason is much simpler than you might think and it’s not to look good. It’s to improve your quality of life!
Thousands of years ago, humans didn’t have cars, computers, or McDonalds. They walked everywhere and carried everything they owned on their backs. In order to survive, they needed strength, speed, and endurance.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Does Protein Timing Really Matter? (S Stevenson – elitefts.com)
- Effects of protein supplementation on performance and recovery in resistance and endurance training (HP Cintineo, MA Arent, J Antonio, SM Arent – Frontiers in nutrition, 2018 – frontiersin.org)
- Do children really recover better? Neurobehavioural plasticity after early brain insult (A Day, A Night)
- Live imaging of synapse development and measuring protein dynamics using two-color fluorescence recovery after photo-bleaching at Drosophila synapses (V Anderson, M Spencer-Smith, A Wood – Brain, 2011 – academic.oup.com)
- Feast or famine in the intensive care unit: does it really matter? (P Füger, LB Behrends, S Mertel, SJ Sigrist… – Nature protocols, 2007 – nature.com)