Most experts in the fitness industry recommend a protein intake 1 gram per lb of bodyweight (or higher) and there’s a huge emphasis on the importance of a post-workout protein shake.
But is it really that important to eat that much protein to gain muscle?
Do you have to get protein post workout even though you just ate a huge meal before working out?
Keep reading to learn about my experience with different protein intakes and what I think about post-workout protein.
High Protein Intake Never Worked For Me
In my first 2 years of training (2010-2011) I had a high protein intake of roughly 200 g at 200 lbs bodyweight as advised by most bodybuilding websites.
To get 200 g of protein through food alone you could for example eat 1 pound of chicken breast, ½ lb salmon and 5 eggs.
On a hard training day where you’re really hungry it may be no problem to get all that food down, but eating like this everyday is a different story.
For me, that’s a huge amount of food to eat on a daily basis. I had to force myself to eat all that protein and I dreaded every meal, but I did it because I thought that a lower protein intake would waste my workouts.
My whole life basically consisted of thinking about progressing in my training and hitting my protein goal for that day.
And what were the results?
I added over 450 lbs to my deadlift, squat and overhead press. On paper, those gains look impressive, and one may think that I got those gains because I lifted heavy and ate a lot of protein.
But that’s not true. In the first 7 months of training I ate a high protein intake combined with a slight surplus. Strength gains were hard to come by and I plateaued in my training on a regular basis.
Also, I was constipated all the time spending half of my day on the toilet and my urine was foamy. My body was basically telling me that it can’t use all that protein, but I didn’t listen to it.
Then I changed things up. I started eating a lot of calories and that’s when I started adding real strength to my lifts.
Most of my beginner gains came when I ate a huge caloric surplus and bulked up from 200 lbs to 235 lbs – not from an increase in protein intake.
During this time I kept protein intake the same, but increased my calories a lot. I went from a skinny-fat 200 lbs to a fat (but more muscular) 235 lbs.
When I ate a huge amount of calories workouts seemed like a breeze. I could go to the gym, add 10-15 lbs to my deadlift each week, and complete the workout without problems.
The lesson here is that no amount of protein can replace the most important factors: calories and progressive training. If you want to gain weight fast and get fast strength gains, you need to focus on getting your overall calories up while training hard as often as possible.
With that said, I don’t advise any skinny-fat beginner to do a high calorie diet. Eating high calories as a novice skinny-fat guy is a one-way ticket to becoming fat instead of skinny-fat as seen in the picture above.
A beginner should first get lean and tap out beginner strength gains.
Once that is done, the skinny-fat beginner should do short bulking and cutting cycles which consist of 2-3 weeks of high calories and hard training followed by 2-3 weeks of lower calories to stabilize bodyfat levels.
How Much Protein
2 years ago I read Brad Pilon’s eBook How Much Protein. In his book he stated that the optimal protein intake is 70-120 g and that workouts are the primary factor when it comes to building muscle.
The reason to why Brad Pilon provided a range, rather than a strict number lies in the difference of lean mass on an individual.
A guy that has 170 lbs of lean mass most likely needs more protein than a guy with 130 lbs of lean mass, so the heavier guy should stick to the upper end of the range.
His recommendations and arguments sounded very convincing. He had peer-reviewed data to back up his claims, he has built an impressive physique naturally and he has a master in human nutrition.
But if I had learnt something during my time in fitness, it’s that you can’t just read something and trust it. You need to try it for youself, track your progress and evaluate the results.
So, I did that. I followed his recommendations of eating 70-120 g of protein per day.
This amount of protein is easy to eat. You don’t have to count anything, just eat at least 2 meals a day with a protein/fat source in each meal, such as fatty fish, whole eggs or beef.
Start your meal by eating the protein/fat source until your appetite is satisfied, then fill up on carbs.
Did this stuff work like magic? No, it didn’t, but it surely worked better than the overanalyzing approach I had prior to this.
I felt better, more energetic and I started seeing fitness as a long term goal, instead of staying up all night researching the perfect protein intake. Also, I gained more size on my arms and shoulders in my 4th year of training, compared to my first 2 years as a novice!
- Picture 1 + 2: I obsessed over protein intake
- Picture 3 + 4: I stopped obessesing about protein intake
Post-Workout Protein Intake – Is It Really That Important?
Not only did I obsess about my daily protein intake. I also obsessed about how much protein to consume post-workout.
I thought that post-workout protein is crucial for recovery and consistent muscle gains.
According to Brad Pilon, research shows that this is partly true (see: Post Workout Protein Dare):
They (the research group) had a group of guys eat a standard dinner, then go to sleep. When they woke up they had a standardized breakfast containing about 500 calories and 30-50 grams of protein (depending on the subject). Then they waited for about one and a half hours then they exercised 1 leg with 8 sets of 10 reps of both leg extensions and leg curls at 70% of their 1 rep max, with 2 minutes rest inbetween each set. The other leg did not exercise at all.
Once the subjects finished their workout they had their protein synthesis levels measured in both legs, then they fasted for 6 hours and had their protein synthesis levels measured again.
Surprisingly, after six hours of fasting the non-exercised leg had levels of protein synthesis that would be expected after a large protein meal and the exercised leg had a rate of mixed muscle protein synthesis that was 20% higher then the non-exercised leg – reaching the same levels that are found in studies where people are fed protein after their workouts, showing that resistance exercises changes the way your body uses protein, directing it more towards muscle metabolism, and that this occurs when food is followed by a workout to a similar extent as when workout is followed by food. [Witard OC, 2009].
The conclusion of this study is that post-workout protein is not necessary as long as you consume protein up to 1.5 hours before working out.
It’s important to have protein available in your body to build muscle, but it doesn’t matter if you consume it before or after your workout.
That’s great news for you if you want to lose fat. To lose fat you need to eat less overall, so my advice is that you skip your post-workout shake and meal if you ate before your workout and you’re not hungry.
I’ve done this myself with great results. At the end of 2012 I often trained in the evening after my dinner, then went back home, showered and slept without eating anything.
I did this, because I ate a huge meal prior to my workout, so I wasn’t hungry at all when I got back. By doing this I got very lean for the first time in my life:
This would NEVER happen in my first 2 years of training where I thought post-workout protein was necessary.
Conclusion: Protein Intake is Overrated
After reading this, you should have gotten an idea of my stance on protein intake and post-workout protein: it’s highly overrated.
The high protein intake made my wallet lighter, I was often constipated, I stressed all the time about getting enough protein and most importantly: high protein intake didn’t benefit me in any way.
I have been consuming about 0.5-0.7 g of protein per lb of bodyweight in the past 2 years, yet I have made great strength gains in my training and added inches to my shoulders and arms.
Next time you consider spending money on protein supplements, and you get sick and tired of eating a high protein diet, just keep in mind that the most popular supplements in the bodybuilding industry are protein powders!
And that’s why you should be careful when following nutrition advice from bodybuilding websites. Their main interest is not getting you ripped, because that would put them out of business.
Be proud but stay hungry,
Big Dicked Doug
Counterpoint: You’re not in good shape and should stop giving people dangerous and incorrect advice.
He’s in great shape for an actual natural lifter with low end genetics. Fake natties and the genetic outliers on the internet have given everyone a warped perspective of what is realistically possible for the average (or even below average lifter)
Countercounterpoint: You’re an idiot with body dysmorphia.
Ellington Darden recommends even lower amount, about. 36 g per lb of bodyweight in his books. That’s way too low for a bodybuilder. What do you think?
I wouldn’t be surprised if an even lower amount worked for some people. Total Calories and hard training are far more important than protein intake.
This guy goes around the world helping communities eat better. He is from Israel. Explains protein needs well and at the end adds a bit on for the lifters.
You eat around 120 g of protien then where do you get your calories from? ….
100-140 grams protein, 20-30% Calories from Fat, remaining carbs.
How many grans of carbs?
Hi mate, what do you think about this:
Finally someone that I can agree with! I totally agree that people obsess about protein intake. Don’t get me wrong, I did the same when I started out and spent tons of money on protein supplements. However, over the past 2 years I actually stopped using protein supplements altogether and spend that money on protein-rich foods like more chicken/ fish, etc. I don’t even look to see how many grams of protein I eat anymore and I’m still able to fuel my body with the protein it needs to grow muscle and stay lean.
Just eat clean, buy tons of high protein foods and tear it up in the gym! No need to count grams of protein…
Well pointed about protein obsession, In my opinion that happens because its easy to copy what other people do, than to know your own way to get great body!
Fully agree with Ryan..
Eating tons of high protein foods is not eating clean unless you are talking about things like beans and lentiles etc. I dont think that is what the author is trying emphasis. If you are eating every animal protein source you can find you might be up at 250-300g a day or more which is retarded.
Great article. Proteins are too much overrated. I think that’s because those supplement companies need to live from something. Few eggs, some meat and cottage cheese is all I need as a protein source. People should concentrate more on a healthy fat intake to increase their testosterone.
Hey what do you mean by full? How do you know if your stomach is full?
When you start getting thirsty while eating it’s a sign you’re getting full.
So if I’m bulking should i go pass that?
I’m currently 14 5ft9 weighing 152 lbs I’m currently bulking bit I am also weight training whilst eating a lot of carbs but I’m relying on protein coming from them as my parents don’t cook chicken every single day. will I still build mass as bodybuilding sites say I should stop coz of not eating enough protein?
great info. Just a quick question. Are you counting protein from carb sources as well or just complete profile protein from meat whey etc. Itll be very difficult to keep protein to 70 – 120 grams if u count protein from carbs considering a 100 grams of oats has 15 grams protein and adding some milk will get you close to25 grams of protein just from those carb sources. Do that 3 x a day and u st 75 grams with little to no room for meat
I count all protein, but most of my protein is complete. I believe you need a fair amount of complete protein in your diet. What that exact amount is, I don’t know. The idea of this article was to make people stop obsess about protein intake and focus on eating a balanced diet and focus on overall caloric intake instead. As long as you eat balanced meals with a bit of animal protein, carbs and fat you will be good.
Complete protein is bullshit to. Its the liver that decides which amino acids it will use and which is will keep in reserve. Complete animal protein is hard on the body because of all the nitrogen the body has to get rid of along with all the sulfur. Plant based protein is plain jane amino acids that go straight to the liver and do not require all the work to break down like animal protein. Plus animal protein (esp whey) is super inflammatory to your body and also acidic. Plant protein is neither of those 2 things. One of the main needs to start atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease is arterial inflammation. Inflammation and loss of endothelial cells from animal protein are the main reason small lbl sticks to the arterial walls causing arterial plaque to build up. Its nice you see the bullshit of protein needs but you also have to recognize the bullshit of complete animal globular protein. You dont see a gorilla (one of our closest to human species) chowing down on a steak yet they can tear your head off. Cheers
oops I meant ldl chol not lbl. typo error
I love this quote!
“Their main interest is not getting you ripped, because that would put them out of business”.
awesome dude,just one question, if i am a beginner and i should get lean first,so i should eat a calorie deficit diet,right?
Thank you! Yes that’s right, get lean first by eating a caloric deficit.
I read your article just now impressive… It’s happened to me also when I taking lots of 200gm of protein per day.. But not work so much… Searching for better way to increase mass and I read and Yaa I try to follow your advice of taking more calories… Your body fuels me to do more exercise and not to loose hope.. Thanks
I am currently studying to be a Registered Dietitian and will go on to get my masters in nutrition. I have been in the fitness/nutrition/weight lifting game for roughly 8 years. I have seen pretty much everything, and experimented with pretty much everything there is out there. Pretty much every diet and exercise program one can think of, I’ve tried it. I have seen mediocre gains, at best, when eating a high protein diet, but better gains and more leanness when eating less protein and more carbs. I write this to say that you are very knowledgeable on fitness/nutrition and I am very impressed with your work. It took me 8 years to come to the conclusions you have in your blog. Thank you for this blog. I will be following this now.
I might suggest also reading http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/
This article is another one about protein by a very trustworthy expert on fitness. Thanks again,
Thanks for the compliments Steven, it’s great to hear that other experienced people have come to the same conclusion!
I’ve been eating around 120 g of protein the past week, and it has been the best week in my training career. Bodyweight increased with almost 3 pounds, shoulders, arms, chest and calves grew, while waist decreased.
That blog looks interesting, I’ve bookmarked it and will read through it soon.
Oskar, because of gym / equipment availability, I have been training at 5:00 a.m. I usually just drink some milk before going, and I eat a huge breakfast afterwards. I’m not a good sleeper-wake up at about 4 a.m., but I’m not making good gains in the gym. What are your thoughts /experiences training early and/or in a fasted state?? Thanks!
I have never trained early on a consistent basis, so it’s hard for me to say how it works in the long term, but my experience is the following: I feel great after a morning workout, but I’m stronger in the late afternoon/evenings. Since you’re not making gains, perhaps try another time if that’s possible.
Thanks, Oskar. I’m going to try some afternoon workouts to see how it feels / works. I like the morning because I KNOW I will get the in and it won’t get pushed off by other LIFE occurrances, and I also know that the one squat rack at the gym will be accessible. In the afternoon, the gym is so busy sometimes I can’t do squats. But, if I’m trying SO HARD to make progress that if the timing of my training is what’s holding me back, I’m wasting my time by going in the early morning in a fasted state and not having the energy to push gains. If anyone else who reads these comments has any input I’d be glad to entertain their thoughts as well!! Thanks, again, Oskar. I love this site! Joel
You’re welcome, hope it works out for you!
This is the biggest circle jerk I’ve ever seen in my life- Just because you don’t count your macros doesn’t mean they don’t matter. It means you just happen to be in the ballpark of what you need to get where you’re trying to go. You didn’t see results because the protein didn’t matter, you saw them because you weren’t getting enough calories in the first place. You could get your entire TDEE in protein and wouldn’t see any progress unless you were in enough of a total caloric surplus- it doesn’t make the protein overrated or unnecessary. I think you’ll find that these “lower” protein requirements that everyone is spouting (other than the guy saying you only need 4-5 grams a day) still aren’t much lower than 1g of protein/1lb of lean mass (which is what I see recommended more often that /lb of actual body weight).
Science not even once.
I didn’t see gains because my calories were too low? I bulked from 200 to 235 lbs in my first year of training and ended up fat. If anything, my calories were too high.
If I had to follow 1 g of protein/1 lb of lean mass, I would be eating minimum 170 g of protein per day instead of the 80-120 g I’m eating for the past +1 year. For me, that’s quite a big difference.
I take in 100g a day of veg protein and my flat bench is 395 and im 230 lbs. 90-110g a day of vegetable protein. So I guess thats pretty close to .5g per lb. Some fit lean guy the other day went to do tbar row, strutting around (1/2 my age) did 3 sets of 10 with 90lbs (2 plates). He did it after I did my 10 set pyramid starting at 4 plates and ending at 7 (315), then I dropped down to 2 plates and banged off 55 reps. High protein is bullshit. In the first 2 or 3 years of lifting Im lucky if I got even 70 or 80. The last 3, 90-110g total and Im just gym guy who just goes 4 days a week and screws around
I agree generally but I have to say that in my experience, the post-workout protein shake makes a huge difference! I’m not 100% sure it leads to greater gains, but I’ve consistently noticed that if i don’t take it, I’ll be sore the next day and when i do, i won’t be sore or the soreness will be minimal. This indicates to me that the protein does indeed lead to greater/faster recovery.
It’s all about experimenting and figuring out what works for you. It sounds like you have done that, so keep it up. Luckily, I never get sore anymore.
Hi Oskar. Great article. Some advanced study I read elsewhere recommended 0.82g. Also the hodgetwins have ran the same diet one with 0.8 and the other with 1.5g of protein. Same result apparently. You can read it on their website.
To my question
I eat a low quantity of meals as yourself. I am getting really tired of eggs in any form and would like a new protein and fat source for breakfast. I have been thinking about yogurt but my body is good at digesting dairy products. Is there any food you could recommend for me?
I have considered tuna on bread or tuna salad. Tuna is very dry though and I would probably get tired of tuna as I did with eggs. Therefor I want to have an arsenal of 2-3 breakfast sources that I can vary between so I don’t get tired of eating the same breakfast.
I know what you mean about the foods. I suggest you try natural peanutbutter for breakfast. I rotate between that and eggs.
Yes, yes, yes! I also really enjoyed Brad’s book when it came out a few years ago, and I’ve stuck to that same principle. To me, something just has to make sense, yah know? If it doesn’t sound logical to me, then I’m just not going to stick with it. And the way I figure it, if a person eats 3 servings of protein per day, that should be about what their body requires.
I get around 100-120g of protein (I’m currently skinny-fat, 6’4″ and weighing in at 200lbs – but rapidly changing that on my cut), and I’m getting it naturally. A bowl of rice and beans gives me about 20 grams of protein. The glass of milk I drink with it gives me another 8 grams of protein. And then I’ll have a serving of cheese, which gives me another 15 grams of protein. That’s 42 grams in one meal!
Sometimes I’ll have 3 scrambled eggs with a bowl of oatmeal (with a couple of bananas sliced up into it) with a glass of milk, which totals up 32 grams of protein.
Then I’ll have some fish and potatoes for dinner, along with my glass of milk, and that’ll give me about 40g of protein.
And the best part? Allllll of that food still comes in at under 2,000 calories for the day.
Exactly Steve. It just doesn’t make sense to shovel down protein far beyond the point of satiety.
Good post, and I agree with what you say.
I used to eat “too much” protein before as well. Then through experimentation I realized it didn’t matter that much. I weigh just above 70 kg now and I eat about 100-160g of protein every day and I can’t complain. Things are going just fine.
Doesn’t much matter if you consume the protein in one or many meals either.
Good point, I used to believe that frequent meals were necessary, but I believe that myth was debunked over at leangains.com
I first encountered debunking huge protein intake in Mike Mentzer’s booklet – Heavy duty nutrition.
10 page pdf file.
To sum up the vital information, he calculates a lean 10 pounds muscle gain/year, of which 70% is water, 22% protein, and other substances (minerals) (typical muscle composition)
Body, (even though this information is still controversial), needs 0.5g protein per kg of body weight.
American FDA says 0.8g/kg, to be on the “safe” side.
So, if you weight 220 Lb (100kg), you need, at most, 80g protein/day.
We, the light weight guys, therefore need much less.
But, here comes the food industry, and says, body builders and other strength athletes endure much more stress and need much more protein. Also it is good for weight loss, and general use for every citizen. It is fashionable, to drink protein shakes…
The answer is, protein quantity is related to individual person’s weight (some even say that it is related to lean persons weight, minus the bones), and is therefore not workout or stress related.
And in short term your body weight is pretty much the same, so your protein needs stay the same, no matter what you do..sleep, run, lift weights etc.
Now, how to gain!!
10 pounds/365 days = 12grams muscle/day, of which 70% is water.
This concludes, 12g protein a day, of which the actual protein is 22% (or 30%, to round it up)…which calculates to 3.6g extra protein a day, over your regular maintenance needs, to satisfy the growth factor.
Mike Mentzer calculated that only 1g extra/day is needed to fulfill the need. I don’t know how he got it.
So, if your body weight is 165lb (75kg), you need, by FDA standard, 60g protein/day, and extra 1g by Mike, totaling at staggering 61g protein/day for 10lb lean muscle gain/year.
Well of course, you must work out regularly, with progression.
Most people’s weight, who naturally build their body, stays the same, so where is the gain?
Fat goes away, and muscle tissue, which is heavier and harder, replaces the inner and outer body layers.
Person looks thinner, but is actually the same weight, much stronger, more vital, can endure more, and is more self conscious.
After some time, when body is fulfilled, it starts expanding. Not by much, but enough, to make you stand out of the crowd.
Well, you can eat more protein if you want, because body has its own ways of removing the over the top protein through excrection, but if you overdo it on a regular basis in humongous amounts, here comes the fat storage again.
Never believe big guys, who really gulp 200+grams protein/day. They use steroids, and this is a different story.
They can gain 20lb of muscle in 2-3 months, so they actually need that amount of protein. But this is a farce for a normal person.
Industry says..food 90%, workout 10%.
I say, once you sort out the food, which is really easy, it is 100% workout.
Thanks for the detailed comment Denis. Some very interesting points there.
Exactly. I don’t spend any time on calculating calories, macros or any of that stuff. I focus on my workouts.
Thats about how Dr Tel-Oren does his calculations. He has a lecture on youtube called the Truth About Protein. Its an hour long and at the end he donates a few minutes for any bodybuilders who might watch. He said its completely irresponsible to eat 100g a day. Mike Mentzer must agree with him. Dr Tel-Oren is a pretty bright guy when it comes to nutritional needs. Because everything got doubled even a lot of nutritionists still say .8-1.2g per kg which for me is 80-120 so not so much difference. I dont know why I bother at 110g I dont even think I would see a difference at 80-90 except my wallet would have a bit more money it it. Even veg protein is going up all the time. I just saw tonight yellow pea protein went up 5 bucks for a 908g container. Dropping from 110 to 80 would save me a complete tub or 38 bucks
We can just do the math. For a reasonable 1 lb of muscle gains a month, 1 lb is 454 grams and 65% of muscle is water. So 158 g is protein at most. Divide that by 30 days per month assuming full absorption of protein and that is about 4-5 grams of protein a day or 16-20 calories! Even 2 lbs a month would about about 10 g a day above normal body functions. It’s a huge industry to sell protein powders. We only need about 10% protein a day and vegetable sources are complete and fine, contrary to past beliefs about food combining. Our bodies just put together the amino acids they need from the food.
I’m building strength for past few months on pull ups, dips, push ups on a 100% plant-based high carb low fat, no oil diet -lots of potatoes, rice, etc. Great to see you destroying the myths out there!
Hey Will, thanks for the comment.
That’s some interesting math, although I have to say that I don’t plan on going that low in protein, since I gain fat easily and protein is much more satiating for me than carbs.
One word; respect!
Thanks man, and I can only say the same, you made some great progress the past 3 months!
Oh, i forgot cheese, but in the most plain source, and low salt. How you find it? it’s usually the cheapest.
Plenty fat and protein.
You cant overeat with natural, fulfilling foods. The only side effect is, when you eat them, you’re not hungry for hours to come, and can do more pleasing thing with your life, than advance prepairing next 7 meals for the day.
To answer your question.
No matter if hungry starving before workout, even though your stomach is craving food and messing your head insane.
If you re not steroidly overgrown muscle psycho, try working out hungry. You ll be surprised, your strength is all there. And hunger will be gone in a few minutes into workout. And gone for additional 30..45..60 mins after workout. And only after that passes, you pack yourself with quality food.
If you work out resistive regularly, you signal your body, musle must stay, fat can go, so body will lurn in time, that hungry working out eats fat, not muscle.
But the biggest question is sizing up you body (and not maintaining muscle mass), and actually this is the hardest one, as nobody never answers it, and is 100% ignored by mainstream.
How does naturally thin person gain, with that small skeletal structure, especially if he has messed up insulin response, resulting in low body weight, skinny looking, with relatively high bodyfat percentage, centered exclusively in abdominal and low back area – The skinny fat effect.
This is the toughest body to transform, and when “done”, is never really impressive to todays, artificially enlarged standards.
But there is cure.
-Regular workout with solid form, and not forcing that last rep. Last rep is the one, you can do only 3/4 or 1/2 or 1/3 of movement on your own (basically you cant complete the rep). Dont use spotter to help you on reps.
-years of workout, where you teach and push yourself, while progressing
-getting stronger in certain exercises, whichever you do, but there should not be many of them
-do supporting exercises, for joint and body stability!!!!!! A must!!!
-no overstreching in negative or eccentric movement (bench bar lowered to the pecs, twisting your upper arm below parallel, messing the shouder)
-eat healthy foods that you like..meat, carb and fat source
-bare in mind that excessive fibre intake is for fat people and that everything you read in mainstream media regarding healthy food, is not adressed to skinny fat person, and actually is not good for anyone.
-I mentioned fat, will mention it again. Eat a lot of saturated fat (butter, pig lard, coconut fat), and fats, that are naturally combined with protein (nuts, pig meat, fish, eggs)
-crave for fat, not protein.
-include carbs at will, but with serious amount of fat, and fat protein, you will naturally limit your carbs
-once you are lean and have some body tone, your body will process carbs, even sweets, chocolate, with ease.
But you must deserve it first. And it really take few years of dediaction. the sooner you start, the better.
Consider this: famine comes…who is better prepared for it?
-body builder, who eats 6-10 small meals/ day, uses insulin or other hormones and is physically addicted to this type of food ritual, and packs 22lb muscle in 3 months in cycles.
-or you, who train hard naturally, progresses slowly, with regular food, 2 – 3 meals/day, high fat, and have a head-stomach food craving connection under control, by sometimes working out in a fasted (hungry) state, not caring about bcaa’s, glutamin, pre workout boosters and protein shakes.
A lot of good info there Denis.
“Consider this: famine comes…who is better prepared for it?
-body builder, who eats 6-10 small meals/ day, uses insulin or other hormones and is physically addicted to this type of food ritual, and packs 22lb muscle in 3 months in cycles.”
Good point there. Even if the frequent protein meals advice worked, I would never want to sustain that lifestyle for a long time.
What if you want to get a workout first thing in the morning. Would it be fine to drink a protein shake while working out just to have energy for the workout and then eat later when you feel hungry?
In my experience, it’s great to workout in the morning as long as you eat a huge meal before going to bed. No need for protein shake.
Protein is definitely overrated and most claims online are used to sell supplements. This method clearly works for sales and keeps many businesses wealthy, but it’s definitely not necessary.
Personally, I love the taste of protein rich foods such as chicken, fish, steak, and flavored whey. With that being said, I lose weight pretty rapidly when I eat fewer than 4k calories per day. I usually have a higher protein intake (around 200g) so that my carb intake is lower.
I haven’t noticed any of the discomfort that you described, but that’s just one reason why each person should find what works for them. What you’re doing is clearly working for you, so keep it up!
I completely agree. If you don’t have any discomfort from eating high protein and you like the taste of it, then go ahead and eat it.
Wow, I wish I could lose fat on anything less than 4000 calories a day!
Brilliant post. But don’t link Brad Pilon’s book please. It is a poorly written book. Yes he does mention a lot of different studies but he finally writes about a steriod study and magically derives the 70-120 gram of protein conclusion. His way of deriving the conclusion is highly illogical. I cannot believe that he can write an entire book and conclude it like a 5 year old. How can he say that the 70-120 range is ideal and not 40-90 or 60 – 110 or 20 – 70?
There is a far better result to be derived from the book however. In one of the study, he shows that a group of people were on a 800 calorie diet and were doing resisting training and still noticed no difference at all in their lean body mass. 800 calories a day means, a deprivation in carbs, fats as well as the recommended protein intake.
So what it proves is that, as long as you are stimulating your body for muscle gain by placing progressively increasing stress on it, you will retain your lean body mass.
Now you might say, how does your body repair itself if it isnt getting sufficient protein? To which I say is that, we humans really don’t know much about our body or about the food we ingest. Saying protein helps in repair of muscles is as naive a claim as saying that fats make you fat or saying that green vegetables make you green. Just because certain foods have protein, doesnt mean your that it automatically translates into muscle protein once inside your body.
Here is my protein intake, I have been on a calorie deficit diet since 1 and a half month now. Hear is my protein intake: A glass of chocolate milk each day and two fried eggs every alternate day. And I have seen no loss at all in my muscles but have lost enough fat that i have started seeing a visible 4 pack now.
Although your view on proteins is so much better than the other ‘fitness gurus’ out there, your claim of 0.5 to 0.7 gram of protein still comes from the fear that lack of proteins causes muscle loss. I suggest you go even lower in your protein intake and you might be suprised.
The reason I still keep a little protein in my diet is because you suggested that the best diet contains some carbs, proteins and fat and is not in extremities. ;)
Thanks for the comment Maq.
I have to say I stick to the 70-120 g range because that’s what my body craves. By eating within that range I stay satiated, feel good and progress in my training. I could perhaps eat less protein and still benefit from my training, but I don’t see the reason to. Even though protein is overrated, I believe it’s great to get that amount of protein if you tend to gain fat easily, since protein is much more satiating than carbs at the same amount of calories.
Out of curiosity, why do you eat so little protein?
Edit: About Brad Pilon’s book, I have to be honest and say that I didn’t have a very analytical approach when I read it. His writing just got me pumped up to finally get rid of my protein obsession and enjoy my life more, and most importantly, what he advised worked out well for me. This is usually what I use books for. I take what I need, test it in real life and evaluate how it works for me.
Thank you for your reply.
Sorry if my comment came across as rude.I’m a big fan of you so would never do that intentionally :) I guess it was my long time frustration on the protein supplement companies that came out in the post. Plus when I bought Brad Pilon’s book I wasn’t expecting it to be highly flawed in the end. But yeah like you said, we have to extract the best from things and apply it to our life.
So anyways, I figured out long while ago that more protein doesn’t mean more muscle. I searched the internet a lot but couldn’t find anything supporting my belief. The closest I came was http://johnalvino.com/how-much-protein-do-i-need-to-build-muscle/ and the 0.38 g/lb recommendation in Convict conditioning.
During my bulking phase I ate atleast 8 eggs a day, 4 glasses of milk and some nuts as my protein source along with a good calorie surplus and saw my muscles grow at steady rate.
Now answering your question, I had difficultly creating a calorie deficit. So I cut down on all three carbs, proteins and fats and to my shock, despite eating maybe 10-15 g of protein a day and half the calories of what I used to eat during the bulking phase, I was still gaining muscle mass and saw atleast a gain of two inches in my shoulder circumference and some little gain in my bicep size. So being a vegetarian in my teens,seeing steady growth even on low protein diet, and because I like carbs and they fill me more than proteins. I stuck to a low protein diet.
But it’s no hard and fast rule that I need to keep a low protein diet. I think we humans can only try so much to understand food and body, so your suggestion of creating a balanced diet comprising of proteins, fats and carbs makes perfect sense. I think based on your advice and to be on safer side I just might add a little bit more protein to my diet :)
Thanks for you awesome website :)
Don’t worry about that, your comment didn’t come across as rude at all.
I just checked out that article you linked to, I wish I found that when I started training.
“Now answering your question, I had difficultly creating a calorie deficit. So I cut down on all three carbs, proteins and fats and to my shock, despite eating maybe 10-15 g of protein a day and half the calories of what I used to eat during the bulking phase, I was still gaining muscle mass and saw atleast a gain of two inches in my shoulder circumference and some little gain in my bicep size. So being a vegetarian in my teens,seeing steady growth even on low protein diet, and because I like carbs and they fill me more than proteins. I stuck to a low protein diet. ”
I’m surprised that carbs fill you more proteins, but everyone’s different and this approach worked for you. With that said, your low protein diet resulted in muscle gains, so it just confirms that protein is overrated.
Oskar, great freaking article!
I also think that protein intake is a bit overrated, especially for post-workout. Just think about this for a second … whenever you eat a large meal, that’s rich in protein, it can take your body up to seven hours to digest the whole thing. And digestion is a gradual process, meaning that your body is going to get a steady supply of amino acids for hours on end.
Actually when you think about it, the best post-workout meal is to eat a protein rich meal a couple of hours before your workout, not immediately after your workout. If you eat your meal a couple of hours before you workout, then you already have amino acids floating through your bloodstream, that are ready to be used for protein synthesis. If you drink a post-workout shake, that stuff needs to be broken down, which can take more than an hour (there goes your anabolic window).
And I also noticed that my gym progress improved dramatically when I boosted my overall calorie levels (thank you white rice) and not my protein intake, which is a pain in the ass to eat in large quantities.
Getting your protein quota for the day is really a no-brainer: one pound stake plus four eggs and voila, I already have cca. 120 grams of protein. Bring on them carbz! :)
Again, awesome article. I feel as if you’ve taken the words out of my head and put them into this article.
Thanks for the comment Dejan.
“I feel as if you’ve taken the words out of my head and put them into this article.”
I can say the same about your comment.
Good suggestion on the steak and eggs. That’s similar to what I do. I get up to 6 eggs for breakfast and up to one pound meat/fish for dinner. Depending on how hungry I am, that should add up to at least 100 g of protein.
Also, I completely agree on your view on increasing calories through protein. Not only is that expensive, but it’s also a pain in the ass to chew so much protein on a daily basis.
Haha, I remember when I used to down two pounds of meat a day! To say that that was a major pain in the ass, would be a huge understatement. And as if that wasn’t enough, to eat such quantities of meat on a daily basis, costed me an arm and a leg :)
The way I do things now:
– eat a fixed amount of protein every day, which is usually one pound of meat plus four eggs
– depending on the goal, I vary the carb intake; if I’m trying to build muscle mass I boost my carb intake (white rice ftw) and if I’m trying to lose some fat, I up my fat and veggie intake
It really can’t get more simple than this.
Looks like we are following the exact same eating strategy. I also use white rice as a carb staple, and eat it in bigger quantities when bulking. During my cuts I simply replace some of it with veggies.