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The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
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Joga Bonito Offline
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The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
Quote:Protein. It’s every bodybuilder’s favorite macronutrient and for good reason. Protein is extremely essential, super satiating and amazingly anabolic. Protein is awesome… but you’re consuming too much of it.

Like most myths, the belief that you should take in 1g/lb of body weight has become so deeply entrenched in the fitness world that its validity is rarely questioned. Strangely, very few people think it’s a bit too accidental that the optimal amount of protein your body can assimilate in a day is exactly 1g/lb. 2.2g/kg doesn’t sound as right, does it? Of course, I know you read my articles for their scientific merit, so let’s look at the literature on the effects of daily protein intake to find out if 1g/lb really is the optimal amount of protein intake for maximum muscle gains.

Studies on Optimal Protein Intake
All values in the bullet point list below are expressed as grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. All of these studies controlled for energy intake, either based on individual requirements or by setting energy intake to be equal in all experimental conditions, so that only the proportion of protein in the diet varied between groups. If the studies were based on unreliable methods such as nitrogen balance, a marker of lean body mass changes, I only included them if they controlled for sweating and dietary adaptation periods.

• Tarnopolsky et al. (1992) observed no differences in whole body protein synthesis or indexes of lean body mass in strength athletes consuming either 0.64g/lb or 1.10g/lb over a 2 week period. Protein oxidation did increase in the high protein group, indicating a nutrient overload.
• Walberg et al. (1988) found that 0.73g/lb was sufficient to maintain positive nitrogen balance in cutting weightlifters over a 7 day time period.
• Tarnopolsky et al. (1988) found that only 0.37g/lb was required to maintain positive nitrogen balance in elite bodybuilders (over 5 years of experience, possible previous use of androgens) over a 10 day period. 0.45g/lb was sufficient to maintain lean body mass in bodybuilders over a 2 week period. The authors suggested that 0.55g/lb was sufficient for bodybuilders.
• Lemon et al. (1992) found no differences in muscle mass or strength gains in novice bodybuilders consuming either 0.61g/lb or 1.19g/lb over a 4 week period. Based on nitrogen balance data, the authors recommended 0.75g/lb.
• Hoffman et al. (2006) found no differences in body composition, strength or resting hormonal concentrations in strength athletes consuming either 0.77g/lb or >0.91g/lb over a 3 month period.

Now, there are some old studies based on nitrogen balance that suggest higher protein intakes are beneficial, but, as I stated above, these studies were methodological abominations. Nitrogen balance is a notoriously unreliable method to assess changes in lean body mass, especially at higher amounts, and these studies didn’t control for sweating or dietary adaptation. Significant changes in dietary protein intake are known to result in negative nitrogen balance for up to 2 weeks after the change, even when sufficient energy and protein is consumed. Furthermore, these studies didn’t exclude androgenic-anabolic steroid users though they studied competitive athletes. (Tarnopolsky et al., 1988).It’s no wonder many of these studies didn’t get translated and remain no more than a shady abstract on PubMed, if they’re even featured on there.

A Bayesian Bodybuilder stomping on a methodological abomination.

Based on the sound research, many review papers have concluded 0.82g/lb is the upper limit at which protein intake benefits body composition (Phillips & Van Loon, 2011). This recommendation often includes a double 95% confidence level, meaning they took the highest mean intake at which benefits were still observed and then added two standard deviations to that level to make absolutely sure all possible benefits from additional protein intake are utilized. As such, this is already overdoing it and consuming 1g/lb ‘to be safe’ doesn’t make any sense. 0.82g/lb is already very safe.

The picture below summarizes the literature. As you can see, 1.8g/kg (0.82g/lb) is the point at which additional protein intake ceases to yield any benefits.

http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth...ybuilders/

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09-17-2014 08:35 AM
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Cr33pin Offline
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Post: #2
RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
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09-17-2014 09:12 AM
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
That study is not correct.

Bodybuilders and athletes need a certain amount of calories/energy per day to build new muscle and retain existing muscle mass. The 1+ gram of protein per lb serves two purposes: 1) to provide protein as a building block for new muscle, and 2) to provide energy to meet the minimum energy requirement you need. Many athletes avoid using carbs to meet this energy requirement & prefer protein (and fat), and this is where the 1+g/lb target fits in.
(This post was last modified: 09-17-2014 09:18 AM by monster.)
09-17-2014 09:18 AM
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RexImperator Offline
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
I've read that site and experimented with going down to 0.8g/lb. I didn't like the results. Recovery was better at 1g. However, it's possible that when I count macros with myfitnesspal I over-count. I don't know how good their database is.

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09-17-2014 09:22 AM
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Deluge Offline
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Post: #5
RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
As soon as I saw the thread title

Popcorn3

(09-17-2014 09:22 AM)RexImperator Wrote:  I've read that site and experimented with going down to 0.8g/lb. I didn't like the results. Recovery was better at 1g. However, it's possible that when I count macros with myfitnesspal I over-count. I don't know how good their database is.

It's really easy to over or underestimate your protein intake.

(09-17-2014 08:35 AM)Joga Bonito Wrote:  Strangely, very few people think it’s a bit too accidental that the optimal amount of protein your body can assimilate in a day is exactly 1g/lb. 2.2g/kg doesn’t sound as right, does it?

This alone should be enough to make anyone skeptical of the 1g/lb figure.

There's a lot more to the article than just what was quoted. I've seen the 0.8 g/lb figure in a number of different studies when researching the topic, and there's multiple studies cited in the article itself that find similar. Obviously if you're on gear you will benefit from much more. People will always argue based off anecdotal evidence in the face of the science. No amount of data will ever cause people to change once the belief is ingrained though. 1 gram per pound is too round a figure, and supplement companies have a vested interest in pushing as high a number as possible.

People can debate this forever though. At the end of the day the most important thing is to experiment and do what works for best for you.

I'm more interested in the optimal calorie intake to be honest.
(This post was last modified: 09-17-2014 09:37 AM by Deluge.)
09-17-2014 09:31 AM
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Ingocnito Offline
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
My personal experience is when too many of my calories came from protein, even when lifting 4-6 days a week hard, I tended to get fat. At one point I was taking in at least 1.5-2g protein per lb. body weight, I got fat. Same thing occurs if I completely cut out all starchy carbs. I mainly eat fibrous carbs, oatmeal, sweet potato, however totally eliminating all white carbs I've noticed seems to make my body forget how to metabolize them, so each day I have at least a little starchy carbs.

Your body essentially has to turn protein into fat to digest it, thus why it's so important to have fat present during protein intake to help digest it. No fat present during digestion complicates the protein digestion process and for me anyways, seems to result in a pouch belly. Also, what many folks new to lifting overlook in their diet and eating habits I've seen are;
1) Protein is best pulsed into the system. 5-7 distinct points of eating protein rather than snacking on protein all day is better. I once read the science behind this but can't find link.
2) Muscles should be thought of as the protein lockers that store intaken protein. But what opens the door to that locker? CARB (restore energy banks for lifting)-O-HYDRATES (hydrates the muscles to transfer the protein efficiently). Especially for post work out meals, it doesn't do you much good to not eat carbs unless you're trying to cut for a show or something. I just don't skip carbs for my last meal before bed and have maintained pretty low BF % following this ideology. FWIW.
09-18-2014 10:48 AM
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The Beast1 Offline
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
I wouldn't say it is a myth. It's probably pretty spot on.

I would say focus less on meeting arbitrary diet numbers and just listen to your body. Try your best to eat clean whole foods and not be afraid of the consequences. Just lift heavy and do lots of compound movements.

In the beginning of my journey into personal fitness, I tried following all of the guidelines. Honestly, I got massively sick and wanted to vomit with all of the food I was eating. The more I went into my routine, the more my body started to tell me what it specifically needed. Processed foods began to make me sick after eating them.

Now instead, I eat when I'm hungry and till full which happens to be conveniently 4 times a day (with a peanut butter, casein, fruit protein shake). If I want to gain weight, I start drinking more whole milk and add a fat PB&J into my lunch.
09-18-2014 11:03 AM
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MikeCF Offline
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
It could be that every big guy out there is wrong. And that nerds know better.

Could be.

But doubtful.
09-18-2014 12:05 PM
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Ensam Offline
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
I dunno, I've noticed a pretty strong correlation between my protein intake and how strong my lifts are. It usually lags by about a week but if I'm not getting at least 0.8g/lb I notice. It might be that more doesn't help but better to err on the side of abundance.
09-18-2014 08:18 PM
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
This study

Quote:• Hoffman et al. (2006) found no differences in body composition, strength or resting hormonal concentrations in strength athletes consuming either 0.77g/lb or >0.91g/lb over a 3 month period.

is the only one that looks legit.

The others were testing for too short periods and/or on novices.

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09-18-2014 08:35 PM
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RawGod Offline
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RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders
So 0.82g instead of 1g per lb is enough. Hardly a big myth-buster.

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09-18-2014 08:40 PM
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Rainbow RE: The Myth of 1 g/lb: Optimal Protein Intake for Bodybuilders



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