February 10, 2016 | John Paul Catanzaro
When it comes to building muscle, taking in too little or too much protein is not the way to go. A moderate amount is best.
There’s a rate at which muscle protein is broken down and built up. Of course, there are ways to influence that rate, but your system can only go so fast. Piling up more and more raw materials at the beginning of the assembly line is not necessarily going to increase production at the end.
It will, however, increase the amount of material that’s wasted and even worse, it may cause you to become efficient at “wasting away” precious material. Dr. Ron Rosedale has talked about this process where the body can adapt to a high protein intake by digesting and breaking down body protein. Yes, that means muscle!
It’s no different really than fat metabolism. Going on a higher fat intake makes your body more efficient at breaking down and utilizing not only dietary fat, but also body fat. It’s one of the reasons why going on a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet works so well to improve body composition.
Now, 1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight seems to be the standard for resistance-trained males who are trying to put on some muscle. Females fair best around 0.6 to 0.8 of that mark due to a lower amount of muscle mass.
Consider the 1.0 gram per pound (or 2.2 grams per kilogram) as an upper limit for individuals that perform moderate to high intensity training on a frequent basis. For sedentary individuals or people that perform lower intensity activity, a lower amount would be ideal. Research by Phillips et al., 2016 indicates that an intake of 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of high-quality protein on a daily basis is ideal for achieving optimal health outcomes in adults.
Take-Home Message: Too much of a good thing can be bad and protein is no exception. The amount of fat and carbohydrates that you consume daily will vary depending on several factors, but for optimal health and performance, a moderate protein intake spread evenly throughout the day is best.