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Articles > Bodybuilding Supplements > How Much Protein?
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Q: How much protein does a hard-training bodybuilder require to build his muscles to the max? I'm presently training on a three-on/one-off training program and performing on the order of 12 sets a bodypart.

A: You must understand that protein is not utilized to fuel your workouts. Individual protein requirements are dependent solely upon individual bodyweight. Under normal circumstances, protein is not a fuel source. Consequently, your daily need for this macronutrient is not contingent upon how active you are in the gym.

McMaster University, one of Canada's top exercise and nutrition-science centers, recently released studies indicating that bodybuilders, who often consume up to four times the recommended daily intake of protein, actually need only 10% extra. In fact, according to the studies, joggers who log more than 100 kilometers (or 60 miles) a week need more protein than bodybuilders.

Cells and tissue, particularly muscle, are based on proteins, which are also an energy source. However, as our bodybuilding workouts are fueled solely (barring a starvation diet) by glucose derived from carbohydrates, these proteins are "spared" for their primary purpose, that of tissue growth and repair. Throughout North America and Europe, most people inadvertently ingest more protein than they need, although the body's requirement rises under certain conditions, such as pregnancy, when bodyweight is elevated.

There also exists evidence that high intakes of protein may damage the kidneys and liver. The metabolism and excretion of these non-storable protein loads impose major stress and can cause excessive growth of these vital organs. The researchers at McMaster University calculated daily protein requirements by monitoring the intake and output of protein in subjects' sweat, urine and feces (and you thought a physiologist's work was all glamor and lecture circuits!). The recommended average daily intake for adults is 0.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For a 154-pound bodybuilder, this translates to about 49 grams of protein a day. This is the equivalent of 16 ounces of milk, three ounces of chicken, five slices of bread and four cups of spaghetti.

(in pounds)
(in grams)
100
40.5
115
46.8
125
51
140
57
150
61
165
67
175
71
180
72
200
82

Most of the bodybuilders studied in the program were consuming (on average) 2.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. The table on this page displays protein requirements for hard-training bodybuilders of various bodyweights.

If your bodyweight is either between or above these calculations, the following formula can be used to determine your specific protein requirement. Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 and then round off the result to the nearest whole number. Multiply this number by 0.9.

The number you're left with will be your specific daily protein requirement in grams. It should be noted, however, that each time your body-weight increases or decreases, you must recalculate your protein requirement. Failure to do so could upset your bodybuilding progress, as protein consumed in excess of the body's needs is either excreted from the body (which represents a waste of' money), or worse, stored as fat, which represents blurred definition.


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