Article Series

  1. Protein Requirements Including For Muscle Gain
  2. Protein Deficiency
  3. Protein Excess - Too Much Protein Unhealthy?

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Protein Requirements Including For Muscle Gain

Protein Requirements Including For Muscle Gain
Table Of Contents
  1. Protein Requirement
  2. Protein Requirements Of Athletes
  3. Supplying The Body With Proteins During The Training
  4. Why Athletes Need More Protein
  5. Cover Protein Needs With A Vegan Diet
  6. Consuming Proteins Spread Throughout The Day
  7. The Protein Requirement Increases With Age

The daily average intake of proteins in America is 91 +/- 22 g protein per day in adults aged 19-30 y (56 +/- 14 g/d in young children; 66 +/- 17 g/d in the elderly) 1. For people who are not doing sports 0.8 g protein per day are recommended 2. Due to recent studies, some scholars think that value is set too low and rather recommend 0.93 to 1.2 g of protein 3.

Protein Requirement

The protein requirement depends on various factors. These include age, gender, body weight and state of health. People with a higher body weight as well as strength and endurance athletes need more protein than those who are slim and move hardly only (see protein requirements of athletes).

Dietary protein requirements by humans of all age groups (FAO/WHO/UNU) 4:

Sex and age groupg per kg body weight
≥19 0.83
≥19 0.83
0.3–0.5 years 1.31
0.75–1.0 1.14
1–3 1.02
4–8 0.92
9–13 0.90
boys 14–18 0.87
girls 14–18 0.85
Recommended daily intake of protein (RDI) 5:
Sex and age groupAmount in g
19-70 years 64
over 70 years 81
19-70 years 46
over 70 years 57
pregnant women 58-60
breastfeeding 63-67
0 to 12 months 10
1 to 3 years 14
4 to 8 years 20
boys 9 to 13 years 40
boys 14 to 18 years 65
girls 9 to 13 years 35
girls 14 to 18 years 45

Protein Requirements Of Athletes

Concerning athletes, there are some additional factors that are also responsible for a higher protein need. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the existing muscle mass, physical activity, the current level of conditioning, and the intensity and duration of the training are important.

Various organizations and universities have calculated and published the following recommendations for athletes:

  • The research results of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) show, that strength athletes can cover their protein requirements with 1.2 g and advanced athletes with 1.5 g to 1.7 g protein per kg body weight 6.
  • In order to support the functional needs such as the promotion of muscle growth and physical strength, a protein intake of 1.0, 1.3 and 1.6 g per kg body weight per day for people with minimum, medium and intense physical activities is recommended 7.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 1.2 to 1.4 g for endurance athletes protein per kg body weight and 1.6 to 1.7 g/kg for strength athletes per day 8.
  • The results of the International Society of Sports Nutrition emerge a protein requirement of 1.4 to 2.0 g for athletes 9. The values depend on the intensity of training, the protein quality and the general carbohydrate respectively energy intake. Higher amounts of protein are especially advantageous in endurance sports.
  • The Iowa State University recommends 1.4 to 1.8 g per kg body weight for strength athletes and 1.2 to 1.4 g per kg for endurance athletes due to the tension of the muscle fibers during the training 10. In general, they recommend a protein intake in the range of 1.0-1.8 g per kg per day, depending on the energy expenditure and the claim of the training.
  • If you do a type of sport with intermittent sequences, a protein intake in the range of 1.4 to 1.7 g per kg body weight is ideal for you 11. The same amount is also recommended for soccer players 12.

In summary, the recommendations range from 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes. Extrapolated to the daily calorie requirement corresponds to about 15 to 20%.

Supplying The Body With Proteins During The Training

During prolonged exercise, a carbohydrate intake of 15 to 30 g is recommended every 30 minutes (see carbohydrate requirements at loads over 90min). When about 7 to 10 g protein are ingested, the amino acids ensure the construction, maintenance and recovery of the muscles because of the protein synthesis 13. Further it is stated that 20 g of protein are sufficient to stimulate the synthesis and regeneration of muscles.

Why Athletes Need More Protein

The base value of 0.8 g protein per kg body weight shall primarily maintain the body functions, which are possible because of proteins. Sport activities and a mostly accompanied muscle gain are not considered in these 0.8 g. However, the organism requires the additional amino acids (proteins are made of amino acids) for regeneration, which are the building blocks of the body cells (here muscle cells).

In addition, in an intense strength or endurance training for example a lot of energy (glucose) is consumed. If the body does not get enough glucose the body fatigues faster and a part of the built-in muscle proteins are used for the energy supply. Therefore, make sure there are enough complex carbohydrates before, during and after the strain to prevent a protein deficiency.

Athletes typically have more muscle mass than someone who is hardly active in sports. In order to maintain this muscle mass, it is also necessary to take in more protein.

In conclusion, the 0.8 g protein are not enough to build muscles. Numerous factors, which are relevant for the fitness, must finally be taken into account. Too few proteins can lead to muscle loss and muscle weakness.

Basically, it is also highly recommended to drink more to eliminate the urea, that develops because of the amino acid metabolism, faster.

Cover Protein Needs With A Vegan Diet

With a vegan diet the protein requirements can be covered easily. Nature provides many healthy plant-based foods with a high protein content. Click here for a list of plant-based foods, that contain much protein.

Just as important as the daily recorded amount of protein, is also the quality of proteins or amino acids. With a balanced and varied diet you can take in numerous plant proteins. So all essential amino acids are available for the body.

Consuming Proteins Spread Throughout The Day

Studies from 2014 show that the 24 hour protein synthesis is higher when the proteins are taken in throughout the day and not as typical in most cases, are consumed increasingly in the evening 14.

The Protein Requirement Increases With Age

Scientists connect aging with a reduced ability to stimulate skeletal muscle protein synthesis in relation to protein intake, insulin and strength training 15. In order to prevent age-related muscle loss and to stimulate protein synthesis, they recommend taking in 25 to 30 grams of high quality protein with every meal. Other scientists advise older people to take in 1.2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day to obtain muscle and bone tissue 16.