« Video of Celtic Solstice 2010 race | Main | Dathan Ritzenhein out of London marathon »

January 26, 2011

How much protein do you need?

Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center will provide a post on nutrition topics. Have questions or ideas for future topics? Email This week, Shanti Lewis, RD, CNSD, CSP, weighs in on protein intake.  

Do you really need a protein shake with 50 grams of protein per serving and that claims to help add 10 lbs of muscle in two weeks? Is eating that much protein really going to help with muscle growth?

Eating excess protein above your energy needs without including extensive strength training activities will only increase your calorie intake and lead to fat gain, not muscle. Americans consume more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for adults of 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight. For example, a 200 pound male needs 73 grams of protein per day, which can easily be achieved by eating the amount of protein in 3 chicken breasts without consuming any other source of protein throughout the day including: beans, eggs, milk products, nuts, grains, soy products, and lean meats/fish.

Protein intake does play a role in maximizing skeletal muscle adaptive response after exercise. Individuals who are endurance athletes or who regularly perform strength training activities require more protein.

In addition to protein, carbohydrates are important for resistance training to provide energy for muscle contraction. Consumption of carbohydrates spares using the amino acids from protein for energy and utilizes them for repairing and building muscle. It is important to eat a balanced, nutrient-dense diet rather than focus on protein as a specific means to gain muscle mass.

Here are some tips compiled from American Dietetic Association, Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook and Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group:

 1. Be realistic about weight gain goals and set a time frame to achieve results

2. Include 300-500 calories above usual calorie intake by increasing snacks or portion sizes

3. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day

4. Consider consulting a professional to analyze your body composition to ensure that weight gain is muscle rather than fat

5. Muscle growth = extra calories + strength training

6. Try to consume your protein intake from whole foods rather than relying on protein supplements or powders

7. Aim for a high carbohydrate snack with 10-20 grams of protein before or after strength training, such as a turkey sandwich and a cup of low fat milk

8. The recommended protein intake per day for an individuals participating in strength training is 1.2-1.7 g/kg/day, which is 82- 166 grams of protein per days or 3 chicken breasts, 2 cups of skim milk, and 3 eggs without another source of protein

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nutrition


it's very importand to eat every 3to 4 hours , people always complaining that they can't gain muscle but they don't eat right

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Exercists
Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
View Twitter feed
Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
View Twitter feed
Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
View Twitter feed
Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
View Twitter feed

Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Reader photos

Share your race photos
Upload your photos from races. Post times, if you like.
Stay connected