How much protein is really needed?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How much protein is really needed?

    Hey folks, I've been trying to wrap my head around this for quite a while. Beginning last spring, I set out on a real mission to lose weight. To make a long story short, I have been very successful, going from ~212 pounds in May to ~192 pounds currently. I'm 5'10" and have always been very muscular, even if I don't lift weights (I am a landscaper during the summer months though). One thing that has helped me to lose weight is to make sure I'm getting plenty of lean protein such as fish, chicken, and leaner beef. This has helped me to stay full for much longer while keeping the calories pretty low.

    Anyway, I have just started another year of teaching now and I won't be able to ride the bike as much, nor will my days be nearly as physically strenuous (mentally, it's another story however). So thinking about my diet, I'm wondering if I should change anything.

    All of the websites I've looked at seem to be from a "bodybuilder" point of view which is not my thing. When I lift weights regularly, the muscle just builds unbelievably fast. I don't want to be so big -- I have plenty of muscle and strength as it is. But all of these websites seem to recommend a TON of protein; like 170-200+ grams a day. It is hard to get that much in my diet without resorting to a supplement (which I'm kind of against).

    So, in a nutshell, my goal is to lose a few more pounds and keep all the muscle I have, but I don't want to bulk up. I'm loving how it feels on the bike now, having shed a lot of fat. How many grams do I really need to maintain what I have, not starve, and somehow keep the winter fat from building up again? Thanks!
    I only ride loam:)

  2. #2
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    A lot less than you think.

    The body building websites recommend mega amounts because they make money from protein powder sales. They get a kickback for every protein supplement sold from a click on their website. I am surprised they do not recommend 24/7 protein IVs in each arm.

    For most inactive people the baseline protein requirements are about 0.8 grams per kg of lean body weight per day. If you are reasonably active the amount increases to 1.2 kg per day or so. Highly active may go up to 1.5-1.8 Serious bodybuilders do need more, maybe 2.0-2.5, but that would be the upper end. I have seen some websites claim 5.0 gms, but I suspect they only want to increase their sales or the guy running the site is an idiot. Any excess protein the body does not immediately use for tissue building or energy is not stored as amino acids for future use. It is either excreted or converted to fat.

    These amounts are for LEAN body weight. If you have 15% body fat you would reduce your total body weight by 15% before calculating your needs.
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  3. #3
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    Dang, that means he can only eat a few dozen peanut butter cookies before reaching his protein quota.

  4. #4
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    80/10/10. 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, 10% fat.
    T275a

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave54 View Post
    A lot less than you think.

    The body building websites recommend mega amounts because they make money from protein powder sales. They get a kickback for every protein supplement sold from a click on their website. I am surprised they do not recommend 24/7 protein IVs in each arm.

    For most inactive people the baseline protein requirements are about 0.8 grams per kg of lean body weight per day. If you are reasonably active the amount increases to 1.2 kg per day or so. Highly active may go up to 1.5-1.8 Serious bodybuilders do need more, maybe 2.0-2.5, but that would be the upper end. I have seen some websites claim 5.0 gms, but I suspect they only want to increase their sales or the guy running the site is an idiot. Any excess protein the body does not immediately use for tissue building or energy is not stored as amino acids for future use. It is either excreted or converted to fat.

    These amounts are for LEAN body weight. If you have 15% body fat you would reduce your total body weight by 15% before calculating your needs.
    Thanks, that helps a lot, and confirms some of what I suspected. I suppose my lean body weight is probably around 175-180 pounds. At 192 I still have some fat but am not overweight by any means. I don't know how to calculate body fat % though. I just remember that around 10 years ago, at 180 pounds I was all muscle/little to no fat. But I may have put on some muscle since then.

    So you're saying if I use 180 pounds/82 kg as my lean body weight, multiply that by 1.2 and that should be my protein intake for a reasonably active day? That calculates to 98.4 grams of protein, which is about what I've been getting on the average day without having to do anything ridiculous. Thanks for your help!
    I only ride loam:)

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    I'm 6'2 and 225. I'm trying to get down to 190-200 from 255. I have always read that .5 grams per lean pound of muscle maintains muscle. 1 gram per lean muscle pound builds muscle for the average person who is exercising, and 1.5 and above grams per lean muscle for extreme circumstances (bodybuilders).

    I have a high end body composition scale, and know I have approximately 165 lbs of lean muscle (Yes I'm fat). Being that .5 maintains and 1.0 grows, I shoot for .75 per lb. That means my goal is 123.75 grams of protein per day. For me, that is very easy to meet through six healthy meals that top off at 2200 calories per day.

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    eat more elk meat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRS73 View Post
    I'm 6'2 and 225. I'm trying to get down to 190-200 from 255. I have always read that .5 grams per lean pound of muscle maintains muscle. 1 gram per lean muscle pound builds muscle for the average person who is exercising, and 1.5 and above grams per lean muscle for extreme circumstances (bodybuilders).

    I have a high end body composition scale, and know I have approximately 165 lbs of lean muscle (Yes I'm fat). Being that .5 maintains and 1.0 grows, I shoot for .75 per lb. That means my goal is 123.75 grams of protein per day. For me, that is very easy to meet through six healthy meals that top off at 2200 calories per day.
    Those values are a bit high, still within normal variation. If your urine develops an ammonia smell that is an indicator your protein intake is higher than it needs. The body does not store excess amino acids for future use. Any amino acid not promptly used for tissue building or energy is excreted or converted to fat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tim208 View Post
    eat more elk meat.
    I like it!!

    Or more trout.

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    Bodybuilding website tell you to eat a lot of protein for 2 reasons, 1, bodybuilders train their muscles to failure with heavy weight, ripping the muscle fibers, which need to be repaired. They do this 4-5 times a week or more, so you need a lot of protein to rebuild your muscles. 2, they eat ALOT to get bigger, 3-6K calorie diets are normal and you have to have a good amount of protein in there or it would be all carbs and fat which would not make for a good physique.


    I eat around 200-250grams of protein a day depending on if I'm cutting or bulking, I actually eat more protein when I cut because I restrict carbs and only slightly increase fat.

    Being that you do not train with weights you do not "need" 1.5 grams of protein per lbs of lean body mass a day. But I would stay around .5-1 gram of protein per lean pound.

    If your 192 and 5'10, without knowing your bf percentage, i'd say you should eat between 120-160 grams of protein a day, which should be very easy to do. remember you get protein from oats, wheat bread, nuts, milk, etc. they add up quickly. If your meat portions are around 5-6oz that's 30-40g of protein right there. Eggs are bout 7 grams each.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inter71 View Post
    80/10/10. 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, 10% fat.
    I would only add that not all carbs are the same. Some are much better for you than others.

    My wife and I try to avoid highly processed grains in all forms. Unless beer counts as a processed grain and then all bets are off. That is not to say that I don't eat white bread at times, but given the choice, I will take the 15 grain whole grain bread that we eat over white bread products. And use spaghetti squash in lieu of pasta. We try to eat low glycemic load vegetables and other products. YMMV

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inter71 View Post
    80/10/10. 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, 10% fat.
    Keep eating like this and then wonder why you will get fatter and fatter and risk diabetes as you get older.

    I realize I am at the other end of the spectrum by eating under 5% carbs (I can remain ketogenic at 50 to 80g of carbs a day but usually only eat about 20-30g/day), but eating that many carbs is just asking for problems.

    Absolutely true that not all carbs are the same. My carbs are mostly made up of green leafy veggies and mushrooms, spinach and the like, usually sauteed in organic butter and olive oil...with some garlic.

    Cookiemonster, regarding protein you are very safe at anything from 120 to 160g per day. Some days will be different, but I find that our bodies tell us when we need more of anything.

  13. #13
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    From my experience, a few months ago I started adding a few tablespoons of protein powder to my post ride smoothies. The thought was to gain leg muscle and strength. I started to gain weight slowly, so I cut it out.

    IMO, if you eat a balanced diet, you'll get all of the protein you need. Sports that require a lot of body strength would need to supplement protein... weekend warrior mtb/road cycling is not one of them.

    If you want to loose weight, stay away as much as you can from processed foods at the market. This pretty much leaves the produce and meat departments. You'll need to cook a bit, so it is more time consuming rather than throwing that frozen pizza, tv dinner, can of xx in the oven or microwave.

    I've gone down from 185lbs to 165 in about ~3 years. (Lots of cycling and some jogging) I still eat breads/bagels (processed) and eat a lot of carbs from rice, quinoa, pasta, and oats for fuel on the bike.
    "Don't ride faster than your guardian angel can fly"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inter71 View Post
    80/10/10. 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, 10% fat.
    That is the eating plan of an ultramarathon runner the day before a big event. Not a daily or training diet.

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    Ketosis of the liver?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim208 View Post
    eat more elk meat.
    Quote Originally Posted by dave54 View Post
    I like it!! Or more trout.
    See my avatar.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inter71 View Post
    80/10/10. 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, 10% fat.
    What Is The Right Balance Of Carbs, Fat And Protein?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave54 View Post
    That is the eating plan of an ultramarathon runner the day before a big event. Not a daily or training diet.
    Agree. That is a ton of carbs. Joe Friel says it's more like 50% carbs / 25% protein / 25% fat.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Power Meter City View Post
    Agree. That is a ton of carbs. Joe Friel says it's more like 50% carbs / 25% protein / 25% fat.
    The latest research is pushing the carb content even lower for daily dietary guidelines, increasing carbs only on heavy training days or for events. And increasing the daily fiber content sharply upward. Some sources are advocating 100gms or more daily. That is tough to do, even with fiber supplements.
    Do not take anything I post seriously. I don't.

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