High protein diets have been in vogue for a few years now because of the benefits they have shown both for people trying to lose weight, as well as those wanting to gain lean muscle mass. The power of protein lies in the fact that it is the only macronutrient that contributes directly to muscle growth. For those seeking to lose weight, a high protein diet helps dieters feel fuller, longer, and in turn less carbohydrates are consumed so there are fewer carbs available to be converted to glycogen and stored as fat.
For fat loss a higher protein diet serves to decrease hunger as people simply feel more full when eating larger quantities of protein. Digesting proteins is also a longer process for the body so they leave you feeling satiated longer, and because it takes much more effort for your body to convert protein into glucose (energy) your body tends to look for other sources, carbohydrates and fats, to burn first. So you can utilize protein for muscle building while the body burns carbs and fat for energy rather than storing them as fat.
Muscle building in both men and women requires protein because protein is the only way to build muscle – neither carbohydrates nor fat can be converted into muscle. The best protein sources in terms of the quality of protein they provide and quantity of fat they contain are – fish, poultry, red meat, beans, nuts and whole grains. Soy works as well for those who do not consume meats while the flexibility and ease of a can of tuna makes it a body builders’ wonder food. For those of use seeking to gain lean muscle a post-workout protein shake also fills in perfectly.
So how much protein is enough? I recommend at least 110% of your body weight (in pounds) as the number to consume in terms of grams of protein. Assuming a 165 pound individual such as myself, I consume between 180-200 grams of protein daily, perhaps 180 grams on the days I do not train with weights and at least 200 on days I do. Two hundred grams of protein equates to 800 calories (there are 4 calories in every gram of protein so 200×4 = 800).
Women who are finally grasping the importance of weight training and the role it plays to sculpt their bodies of lean muscle and become fat burning furnaces must be mindful of how much protein they need. Only protein directly contributes to the addition of lean muscle mass. While it is true that we all require the other macronutrients, carbohydrates and fat, only protein equates to muscle growth. And when you eat more protein, because of how inefficiently it is used for other functions, your body will turn to fat and carbs as its’ preferred source of fuel. I have yet to see anyone get fat from eating too much protein.
Eating lots of protein will not turn you into the Hulk, only hard work, genetics and overloading your muscles continually in the gym will even come close to that. And remember two golden rules of body transformations:
1. Muscle is not made in the gym, it is built when you are at rest, sleeping = recovering
2. Abdominals are not made in the gym, they are made in the kitchen where your diet plays a huge role in your percentage of body fat
Aim to eat a larger amount of protein and a smaller amount of carbs at every meal to feel full and still hit your daily requirement of calories. Carbohydrates are still important as they give us the energy to power through the rigorous muscle ripping workouts we must strive for.
Eat more protein, feel full longer, workout hard, build muscle, lower body fat.