How Much Protein Do I need For Fat Loss Over 50?
Over the course of a week I get asked dozens and dozens of questions about training and nutrition, but the most common question I get asked resoundingly pertains to the subject of protein!
I wrote this article to give you a little more knowledge on the subject of protein - more specifically on how protein aids in fat loss and the amount YOU should be in taking each day. Click here for an article I wrote on the Top 5 Ways To Get More Protein.
Why do we need protein?
Proteins are the main building blocks of the human body. They're used to make (and repair) muscles, tendons, organs and skin.
Proteins are also used to make enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters (which are required for proper brain function).
So within the context of active people who exercise regularly, consuming foods high in protein helps repair damaged tissues, and also helps create more muscle tissue – both of which are very important if your goal is to perform at the highest-level possible.
But there’s more to a diet high in protein than simply increasing lean muscle mass.
For the vast majority of my clients, their goal is to improve body composition by decreasing body fat.
Carbohydrates, fat, and protein all have a metabolic cost to your body in order to digest, absorb, store, or oxidize them – this means that your body spends energy (calories) to make those things happen.
This process is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Feeding – and your body spends roughly twice the amount of energy breaking down, and absorbing protein as is does for carbohydrates and fats.
Practically speaking, you’ll burn more calories over the course of a day if you consume a higher proportion of protein, than not.
Interestingly, a number of studies have shown that this is the reason many “low carb” diets work – when calories are controlled for, it’s actually the increase in protein (increased thermic effect) that results in greater fat loss, and not the decrease in carbohydrates.
Sorry to break that news to you Paleo-people…
How much protein do we need?
If you do a quick Google search on this topic, you’ll immediately notice how much conflicting information there is out there.
You’ll see ‘recommended amount’, ‘optimal amount’, ‘maximum amount’….and so on...
As usual though, context is everything! Again, because the vast majority of my clients are training for body-composition goals (specifically fat loss), I will throw out some numbers with them in mind...
A mentor of mine, Dr. Stu Phillips has some recommendations that I have my clients follow.
He’s a professor of Kinesiology at McMaster University, a lecturer at the American College of Sports Medicine, and one of the worlds leading protein researchers (I let much smarter people do the dirty work).
He suggests from an optimal standpoint, there are benefits of consuming a protein intake as high as 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein, per kilogram of bodyweight per day (for someone who’s weight training and/or endurance training).
So, if you weighed 100 kilograms, you would want to strive for 160 to 180 grams of protein per day.
Importantly though, he suggests that people who are in an energy deficit (trying to lose body fat), can safely consume up to 2 to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day – this will protect existing muscle mass, as well as help in satiety (staying full).
So, what do I personally recommend for clients who want to shed body fat?
For those of you who prefer the imperial system of measurement, my magical protein recommendation is around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
From experience, this has been a very simple starting point (and easy to remember) for clients seeking to lose fat, while maintaining (and often increasing) muscle mass.
Ok Jeff, enough already - Shut up and tell me what your suggestions are to help me hit my protein target!!