One of my favorite things about reading the history of bodybuilding is all the great stories. Guys that were lifting in the 50’s, 70’s and even 90’s all had fantastic stories including all the crazy things they did when younger and ‘uninformed’. Ironically even after they learned ‘better’ they sometimes were still doing things wrong. Things like eating a ton of peanut butter and banana sandwiches per day to gain muscle was actually common.
Of course there is no fault in that. Science continues to progress, more money has flowed into athletic performance along with continual studies. We are lucky in one sense that we have so much more practical hard data to work with; actual science. That is a huge benefit compared to a handful of guys comparing notes about what has worked for them.
Daily protein intake is one of those areas that has and is discussed a lot. We all know we need protein but the amount we should take in is all over the board. Google ‘daily protein intake’ and you will get a wide range of answers. But which one is the right one?
Daily Protein Intake
According to the government of the United States, 56 grams of protein per day is sufficient. Of course that total does not consider people trying to build muscles.
Other people have various figures of .5 grams per pound a day up to 2 grams per pound of bodyweight per day. One bodybuilder’s site was a bit unique as he expressed his figure in kilograms to stand out using a modifier of 2.75 grams of protein per kilograms of bodyweight. Then you have to convert your weight from pounds into kilograms by dividing by 2.2. By his method a 200 pound lifter (which equals 90.9 Kg) would need 250 grams of protein. His per pound modifier is 1.25 grams and actually quite common.
Looking at numerous bodybuilder pages and discussion boards, 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight is a very common answer.
However recent science studies say that number is a bit high.
Experts Weigh In
The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends about .91 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. They actually use 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight as they are international but we did the math for you.
Some doctors running studies on college campuses in Texas have varied the amount even more based on activity stating that the intake can be as little as .5 grams per day per pound of bodyweight up to .85 grams based on working out anywhere from 3 to 6 times per week. The concept is that the total volume of training requires higher amounts per day to offset the needs of recovery and muscle building. This is based on working with athletes trying to gain muscle.
Taking It All In
After looking at the facts versus the people that are involved in muscle building each day (the bodybuilders) it would seem that the daily protein intake should be right around 1 gram of protein per bodyweight pound. That number is just above the expert opinion because if you are going to err it should be on the high end.
Depending on your size and level of muscle development, your body might need and consume more protein. Most of these studies are working with younger athletes and not necessarily with elite bodybuilders. So going slightly above the recommendation seems to be the best choice and should not result in any health issues as a little bit extra protein is not harmful to your body.