Protein: When? How Much? And What For?

Nowadays I’m sure you’re getting health recommendations from everyone to the opinionated guy in the gym to your cousin’s girlfriend’s uncle’s best friend. When you should take protein, why you should take it, what the best kind is, and what you need to take are all questions that probably come to mind when you decide to take your fitness journey up a notch. If you are new to fitness and still learning healthy nutritional habits, it can truly become overwhelming! Not to worry, we’re here to help.

The reality: most of us get enough protein intake without the need for additional supplementation. Yet there are those of us who desire to change our physique to become more athletic or simply lose weight, thus requiring more protein. If you fit into either of these categories, protein intake is definitely worth considering to help your cause.  As per the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), the average person needs .86 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, meaning that if you have an adult male that weighs 200 pounds, approximately 90.9 kilograms, that individual should ingest 78.1 grams of protein a day to maintain a healthy balance..

So how does this work for me? Say that same 200 pound male is attempting to gain muscle or lose body fat, then the formula changes. In this case, your protein intake has to be more than the RDA for  protein. The Medical Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that if you’re trying to build muscle, then the number should be closer to 1.2-1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight! Imagine, if a 200 pound male aims to eat 1.5 grams per kilo he is now responsible for 136.3 grams of protein a day. Obviously, this is not an easy task when you think of what his daily food intake would look like Just a hint: chicken breast has 43 g of protein, 62 g from steak, and only 20 grams from tuna.

This leads us to supplementation, but when is the ideal time to ingest additional protein?  Should it be taken before a workout or after? The best answer, it truly does not matter! As long as you are supplementing your daily intake appropriately, and not ingesting too much, there has been no study provided to say one way or another. The most accurate way to gauge proper protein intake is your own body.  If you feel that additional protein intake “helps” you through the workout, take it! Additional protein also aids in post-workout recovery if you’ve been feeling like your workouts really “take a lot out of you.” No matter how you use it, protein will help your body break down body fat and increase lean muscle tissue.   

If you’d like more information on how protein affects your fitness journey, ask a YouCoach for help on your next visit to Youfit!

Steven Davis

Steven Davis, Master YouCoach, Youfit Kennesaw - Cherokee Street Steven Davis is officially recognized and accredited with certifications in ISSA Level 1 CPT and CrossFit Lvl 1 CPT. He is currently completing his Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology. His fitness specialties include maximizing range of motion and mobility, increasing strength and endurance, weight loss, as well as increasing muscle and strength. Steven’s passion for personal training came from learning to overcome his own personal challenges and injuries. My favorite exercise to perform is the squat, and all its many variations. His philosophy? Fitness and a healthy lifestyle should best be viewed as preventive medicine.