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I've been googling for hours and I'm still not sure how to resolve this situation.

Defining the problem

  • many articles on the web are written for heavy people with relatively high body fat percentage
  • the articles are inconclusive on how much protein should a person consume per 1 meal
  • the amount of protein per 1 meal times number of meals doesn't equal the recommended value for low LBM people

Putting down the exact values

  • my exact total body weight is 63 kg (134 lbs)
  • my body fat percentage is around 6%
  • my lean body mass (LBS) is 57 kg (126 lbs)

The photo of me with the values stated above, provided for better understanding of the situation:

What I do and what this question is and isn't about

  • I lift weights 5 times a week
  • In this question, I want to discuss protein and protein only. The consumption of carbohydrates and/or fats should be completely irrelevant to this thread
  • I do not want to gain fat

The recommended rules

The recommended rule no. 1:

"One needs to consume 20 grams of protein per one meal for the body to start repairing muscle tissue."

The recommended rule no. 2:

One needs to consume 25 grams of protein per one meal for the body to start repairing muscle tissue."

The recommended rule no 3:

"Do not consume more than 30 grams of protein per one meal, as the body cannot make use of more and will store the rest into fat.

The recommended rule no. 4:

"The total amount of protein consumed per day should be 2 times your body weight in kg." (this number varies)

The recommended rule no. 5:

"Eat at least 6 meals a day."

The problem arising from the rules above

Let's say that consuming 20 grams of protein per 1 meal is enough. If we multiply it by 6 meals a day, that makes it 120 grams of protein per day, which is only a bit more than what one of the rules say: 2 times 57 (LMS in kg) = 114 grams of protein per day.

However, if the rule about consuming 20 grams of protein per 1 meal is wrong and it should be 25 grams per 1 meal, it would make it 25 x 6 = 150 grams of protein per day, which is a lot more what I should consume. If the rule is correct at all, right?

So is the rule correct? Should I consume only 114 grams of protein per day? That seems like quite a low number to me.

Could someone shed a light on this once and for all?

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Where did you get the 6% body fat number? leighpeele.com/body-fat-pictures-and-percentages –  Dave Liepmann Oct 5 '12 at 13:42
    
Where did these recommended rules come from? –  Dave Liepmann Oct 5 '12 at 13:42
    
I got the fat percentage value from our local hospital, measured with a caliper test. Remember I don't have much muscle, so I don't look like the examples you posted. The recommended rules are basically "all over google", I can go over it again and cite them. I didn't make them up. –  Richard Rodriguez Oct 5 '12 at 13:43
2  
what exactly is one "food"? –  DForck42 Oct 5 '12 at 13:51
1  
That's why I personally trust the bodyweight-dependent "rules" more than the ones that are bodyweight-agnostic. It's true that it may not be a linear relationship, but there are so many confounding factors that I think it's a fair rule of thumb. I'm fairly confident that gaining muscle mass benefits from a high protein/high % protein diet; the specific numbers...meh. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 5 '12 at 14:21

1 Answer 1

I will respect your wishes to talk "only about protein", but that is simply a repetition of a lot of the fallacies and myths that have grown up around the ingestion of protein. Protein is simply a macro nutrient, and needs to be consumed in balance with other macronutrients. All of the "rules" you state about no more than 30 grams of protein (Which is only 120 calories) at a meal are pretty much bunk.

So, how much protein do you need? RDA in the US states for adults, .8 grams per kilo of bodyweight. So for you, that would be 50 grams per day. For exercising adults, the RDA seems to think that it makes no difference, although they recommend higher protein intake for infants/children who ARE growing.

Here are some studies to take a look at:

Peter Lemon review This review of studies suggests an intake of 1.6 - 1.7 grams/kg per day, and that more doesn't really have an impact, and suggests there is a "ceiling effect".

Another Lemon study - Suggests that among novice weightlifters, 2x the RDA (or 1.6g) is beneficial, but more isn't.

Protein and Nitrogen balance - Suggests that maintenance protein for weightlifters is not that much more than sedentary individuals (Maintenance, not growth).

My nutritional classes have usually gone with 1.5 to 2g per kg of body mass as a protein intake (For athletes, not sedentary population), which seems to fit in line with the above studies, and as part of a balanced diet across the board. There are a couple of studies that I have seen that suggest that intense weightlifting requires intakes in the 2-2.5g/kg range. I have not seen anything to suggest that a smaller framed person is going to have different protein requirements when scaled to a larger diet, it's still a function of grams/kg. They aren't written for "bigger, fatter, people", they are written as a result of studies, and apply to just about anyone.

Now that being said, every person is an individual, and you need to find where your own balance is, but I think that if you start with around 1.5 g/kg of intake and experiment from there you will find where your "sweet spot" is.

As far as the "per meal", just make sure that you have some high quality protein with almost every full meal, and that you ingest some sort of protein/carbohydrate mix soon after a workout. For endurance athletes, refueling with a 3:1 carbohydrate/protein ratio (oddly enough, which is the exact ratio in milk) is ideal, you may not need that for weightlifting recovery.

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This answer sounds good. Let me just note that I know that proper carbohydrates/fats balance is required and that I need to consume carbohydrates so that my body has the required energy to repair muscle, I also know the rough values. That's why I decided to skip it in this thread - so that this doesn't become the "protein:carbs:fats ratio war", etc. –  Richard Rodriguez Oct 5 '12 at 15:30

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