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1g/lb of protein -- myth or fact? Bodybuilding debate

pitbullpuppypitbullpuppy Member Posts: 140 Member Member Posts: 140 Member
This will be a relatively lengthy post; but to summarize, do you actually require approximately 1g/lb of protein as a bodybuilder to maintain muscle? (1g/lb is a generally given guideline; and in my opinion guidelines are totally fine. But I am looking for facts)

I was watching some Youtubes on bodybuilders and had seen people in countries, in living conditions that I can't imagine are conducive to actually being able to obtain - much less ingest - 1g/lb of protein daily; yet they had incredible "ripped" results and a large mass. I have also seen vegan body builders and wonder if they are actually getting that 1g/lb per day -- it's hard enough on a standard diet let alone vegan (excluding the use of supplemental powders).

I decided to look into it and found some debates on Reddit claiming that the recommendation is actually 1g per kg, not lb. Others were saying its 1g per lean body mass pound (worded much better, I'm sure, lol). I stumbled upon this link... https://mennohenselmans.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/

Points of interest:


"• 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.
In fact, the finding that the more experienced you are, the less protein you need, has been replicated in several studies (Rennie & Tipton, 2000; Hartman et al., 2006; Moore et al., 2007).

A perhaps even more telling study is by Pikosky et al. in 2008. The researchers took a group of endurance trained subjects and had them consume either 0.41 or 0.82g/lb of protein per day. They also added a thousand calories worth of training on top of their regular exercise. So these guys were literally running on a 1000 calorie deficit while drastically increasing their training volume. Talk about a catabolic state… Of course the nitrogen balance in the low protein group plummeted. However, the protein intake of 0.82g/lb in the other group completely protected the subjects from muscle loss. Nitrogen balance, whole-body protein turnover and protein synthesis remained unchanged.

Also, the supposed difference in nitrogen sparing effects of carbs and fat are negligible (McCargar et al. 1989; Millward, 2004). Neither actually spares protein though. Only protein spares protein. I think the protein sparing idea came from a wrong interpretation of the nitrogen balance literature showing more lean mass is lost in more severe caloric deficits. A simple explanation for that finding is that the more total mass you lose, the more lean mass you lose. No surprises there."

Thoughts?

Replies

  • Theoldguy1Theoldguy1 Member Posts: 1,083 Member Member Posts: 1,083 Member
    Probably not going to find a lot of conclusive studies either way. I think if you poll high level athletes (and the dietitians and trainers they work with), muscular individuals, etc the vast majority are on the 1g protein/lb of bodyweight (or close) type nutrition plan. As @sardelja says better to error on the side of too much because it won't hurt you (unless of course one goes to the super extreme, or have some uncommon kidney issue) than not enough.

    Just my $0.02.
    edited June 13
  • tgillies003tgillies003 Member, Premium Posts: 126 Member Member, Premium Posts: 126 Member
    Everyone is different. I know for me, if I track and increase protein I lose and maintain better.
    Having said that, I almost never reach the 1 gram per pound guideline.
  • Holly92154Holly92154 Member, Premium Posts: 119 Member Member, Premium Posts: 119 Member
    I've always been in the "per lean mass" camp. If a 200 lb morbidly obese woman and a 200 lb female body builder get the same result, you are essentially feeding someone's fat 😂 5'4 female and I've never had a problem putting on mass. I have 101.3 lbs muscle and typically eat around 50 grams per day. Some days I might end up around 80 but I don't strive to and I don't supplement.
  • meskibrpmeskibrp Member, Premium Posts: 23 Member Member, Premium Posts: 23 Member
    To piggy back off of others, I'd throw in the fact that Protein takes the most energy to digest (20-30% of total calories in protein eaten go to digesting it).

    Jim recommends 1.5 g's lbs and explains why within (with more recent studies cited).

    On a side note, I'd be wary making any decisions that are based on research that is decades old.

    https://www.jimstoppani.com/nutrition/high-protein-huge-benefits#:~:text=I get tons of pushback,muscle mass and fat loss.
  • psychod787psychod787 Member, Premium Posts: 3,472 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,472 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    Probably not going to find a lot of conclusive studies either way. I think if you poll high level athletes (and the dietitians and trainers they work with), muscular individuals, etc the vast majority are on the 1g protein/lb of bodyweight (or close) type nutrition plan. As @sardelja says better to error on the side of too much because it won't hurt you (unless of course one goes to the super extreme, or have some uncommon kidney issue) than not enough.

    Just my $0.02.

    I agree with you sir. As far as what I have seen in the research. Dr. Jose Antonio has done studies with protocols of 3.3g/kg with no ill effects. Even showed a recomp effect in trained individuals.
  • mmapagsmmapags Member Posts: 8,963 Member Member Posts: 8,963 Member
    meskibrp wrote: »
    To piggy back off of others, I'd throw in the fact that Protein takes the most energy to digest (20-30% of total calories in protein eaten go to digesting it).

    Jim recommends 1.5 g's lbs and explains why within (with more recent studies cited).

    On a side note, I'd be wary making any decisions that are based on research that is decades old.

    https://www.jimstoppani.com/nutrition/high-protein-huge-benefits#:~:text=I get tons of pushback,muscle mass and fat loss.

    You are vastly overestimating the TEF of protein. It's more like 15%
  • fitnessguy266fitnessguy266 Member Posts: 135 Member Member Posts: 135 Member
    Informative posts from you all, bookmarked a few of the links here. From personal experience, I've never run into challenges either building/maintaining muscle within ranges of 0.6 to 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight....can wildly vary per individual though, as stated above.
  • shaumomshaumom Member Posts: 947 Member Member Posts: 947 Member
    Just mentioning one thing to also consider: this research applies to male body builders only.

    They didn't study women at all in Tarnopolsky's studies, and I don't believe the others as well.

    When women contacted Tarnopolsky about the fact that they weren't getting the results that their male counterparts were, he ended up doing some of the same research on protein, but with women, and it turns out their bodies do not respond like men's do, to protein (carbs, too). (just google Tarnopolsky women and protein, and the research will show up).

    So seems like it's good to remember that this discussion in general is valid for men primarily.
  • magnusthenerdmagnusthenerd Member Posts: 1,183 Member Member Posts: 1,183 Member
    This will be a relatively lengthy post; but to summarize, do you actually require approximately 1g/lb of protein as a bodybuilder to maintain muscle? (1g/lb is a generally given guideline; and in my opinion guidelines are totally fine. But I am looking for facts)

    I was watching some Youtubes on bodybuilders and had seen people in countries, in living conditions that I can't imagine are conducive to actually being able to obtain - much less ingest - 1g/lb of protein daily; yet they had incredible "ripped" results and a large mass. I have also seen vegan body builders and wonder if they are actually getting that 1g/lb per day -- it's hard enough on a standard diet let alone vegan (excluding the use of supplemental powders).

    Thoughts?

    In answer to the question as posed, no. A person can definitely maintain muscle mass on less than 1g/lb. The 1g/lb and above discussion is about what is optimal, rather than necessary. Optimal even varies with conditions - protein requirements while in a surplus for even building (not just maintaining) muscle aren't as stringent. Much of Helm's literature on the subject is concerned with requirements while in a calorie deficit, particularly the kinds for bodybuilding shows.

    As for the surprisingly fit ripped people, you've actually managed to mention two populations that are confounded by one common unmentioned - use of anabolic steroids. I've heard that it is actually pretty common in some regions, such as the Middle East, to just walk into a pharmacy and buy steroids with no prescription. The price is such that it is cheaper and just as effective to stack a higher dose than it is to use protein supplementation. There are also some - I have no clue how prevalent - vegan bodybuilders out there trying to spread the lifestyle and trying to make it look like protein isn't as important via using steroids.
  • yirarayirara Member Posts: 5,241 Member Member Posts: 5,241 Member
    shaumom wrote: »
    Just mentioning one thing to also consider: this research applies to male body builders only.

    They didn't study women at all in Tarnopolsky's studies, and I don't believe the others as well.

    When women contacted Tarnopolsky about the fact that they weren't getting the results that their male counterparts were, he ended up doing some of the same research on protein, but with women, and it turns out their bodies do not respond like men's do, to protein (carbs, too). (just google Tarnopolsky women and protein, and the research will show up).

    So seems like it's good to remember that this discussion in general is valid for men primarily.

    I need to look into this. As a small woman of certain age my maintenance calories are not particularly high. If I went with 1gr/lbs I'd need to eat about twice as much protein that I get per day, or about 1/3 of my food intake per day :# That would leave me hungry, grumpy, spending a lot of time on preparing food and rather out of pocket.
  • ritzvinritzvin Member, Premium Posts: 2,684 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,684 Member
    ... and had seen people in countries, in living conditions that I can't imagine are conducive to actually being able to obtain - much less ingest - 1g/lb of protein daily; yet they had incredible "ripped" results and a large mass. I have also seen vegan body builders and wonder if they are actually getting that 1g/lb per day -- it's hard enough on a standard diet let alone vegan (excluding the use of supplemental powders).

    On this point, it's worth noting that many in the developed first world are either sedentary AF most of the day, or at very least, most do not have physical labor jobs where one is taxing those muscles for hours per day (also not doing things like lugging buckets of water home, etc). Much of out muscle building stimulus is from what limited time we spend in the weight room at the gym.. so optimizing the effect of that would become much more important.
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