How much protein do you need if you’re lifting weights? Do your protein needs also increase when you are trying to build muscle? Can I get enough protein from my diet?
When you are trying to beef up your muscles, your protein intake also needs to be beefed up. But, luckily, it typically can be met by a variety of foods on your plate, as long as you are eating enough calories to meet your active needs.
The current recommendation for modestly active folks is to consume about 0.4 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. However, when you are engaging in a routine exercise program to build muscle mass, your protein needs can increase from 75 percent to slightly more than double that amount, or between 0.6 grams to approximately 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.
For a 140-pound person, that would translate into an increase of somewhere in the neighborhood of about 84 to 112 grams of protein daily. (Note: this increase of protein is based on the assumption that you are eating enough calories to fuel your body so that the dietary protein can be preserved for more important uses in your body, such as building those bulging muscles of yours, rather than using them as fuel.) Less protein is needed in the diet when you are maintaining, rather than building, your muscles. But before you start defrosting the steak to beef up the protein in your diet, look how quickly it can add up on your plate:
|Daily Food Group Guide:||Needs of Many|
About 1,600 Calories/Day
|Needs of Many|
Active Women and Sedentary Men:
About 2,200 Calories/Day
|Needs of Many Very Active Women|
and Active Men:
About 2,800 Calories/Day
|Bread Group Servings||6||9||11|
|Vegetables Group Servings||3||4||5|
|Fruit Group Servings||2||3||4|
|Milk Group Servings||2-3||2-3||2-3|
|Meat Group Servings |
|Total Estimated Protein||83 gms*||101 grams*||116 grams*|
*Based on 3 servings of Milk Group daily, which will also help meet the daily calcium needs of adults, ages 19 to 50 years.
Protein is found predominantly in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, dairy foods, grains, and vegetables. An ounce of meat, fish, or poultry provides about 7 grams of protein, with a half-cup of cooked beans, an egg, or 1/3 cup of nuts each providing similar amounts. While a cup of milk or yogurt will serve up about 8 grams of protein, cheese is a big ticket item, slicing up from 6 grams to over 12 grams of protein for a 1 1/2 to 2 ounce serving. (Cottage cheese lovers, please note: 1/2 cup of 1 percent fat cottage cheese provides a whopping 14 grams of protein!) Grains and breads such as 1/2 cup cooked pasta or a slice of bread, provide about 3 grams of protein per serving, whereas 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables serve up about 2 grams of protein.
Luckily, protein is one the nutrients listed on the nutrition fact panel of the food label so you can see how quickly the numbers add up. When it comes to increasing the protein in your diet, a balanced, varied diet that is adequate in calories should be able to muscle in all the protein you need. Have fun at the gym!