Gain Mass

Can You Get Too Much Protein? Part I

Get the inside scoop on everything you need to know about the bodybuilder must-have known as protein.

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Q: So exactly how much is too much? What are the guidelines for protein?

A: There are a lot of ways to determine how much protein the average person should eat to remain healthy. It can get really complicated, so we'll spare you the details and just tell you that, according to the FNB, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8 gram per kilogram of bodyweight per day. That translates to roughly 0.4 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight for men and women ages 19—70. Sounds awfully low, doesn't it?

It gets worse. You'll sometimes see the RDA for protein listed as 56 grams per day for men. This number was derived based on a bodyweight of 154 pounds for the average male. Anyone see a problem with that?

Q: Um, yeah. Most bodybuilders weigh in at a lot more than 154 pounds, don't they?

A: Exactly. The recommendations applied to the general public just don't apply to bodybuilders who eat specialized diets and live radically different lifestyles than the average person. Occasionally, a nutritionist who's more enlightened about the dietary needs of trained individuals will recommend around 0.8 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.

That more realistic number comes primarily from the work of Dr. Peter Lemon, who reviewed research about protein intake and athletes' dietary needs and concluded, in a paper published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 1998, that "dietary protein need increases with rigorous physical exercise." The American College of Sports Medicine backs that recommendation, and it actually comes closer to the M&F-approved minimum recommendation of 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Then again, we wouldn't argue if you wanted to eat up to 2 grams per pound.

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