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How Much Protein Do You Need To Eat?

By: Brad Pilon

I'm beginning to hate protein. I know it sounds funny, but it's true. Protein could be one of the most popular and controversial topics in all of nutrition.

Protein has become the golden child of muscle building and fat loss. Wanna build big muscles? Eat your protein. Wanna lose fat and look like a fitness model? Eat your protein. After all, every one knows you need to eat a minimum of 30 grams of protein every two to three hours.

Back in my earlier years, I drank my protein shakes and ate my protein bars. I would constantly keep my protein intake up around 250 grams per day. Why? Because I thought it scientifically PROVEN that more protein equaled more muscle.

But now I'm not so sure.

Let's take a look at one of the research studies that the 'super-high protein advocates' always use to 'prove' that eating protein after a workout makes you build muscle.

If you were in this study, this is how your day would have gone...

You would show up at a research lab around 10 PM, and you would go to sleep (no eating). The researchers would wake you up around 6 AM and start poking and probing you (again no eating). After a bunch of weighing and measurements, you would start working out around 9 AM.

This would be one of the toughest workouts you have ever done.

Most likely you would do 10 sets of 8 reps on the leg press machine, followed by 8 sets of 8 reps on the leg extension machine. All of your reps would be done at 80% of your one rep max. Like I said, one brutal workout.

After your workout you would be given a drink that contains 3 to 6 grams of essential amino acids (the equivalent of a glass of milk).

After that, the researchers would take measurements for the next 4 hours and measure your rate of 'protein synthesis'.

This is pretty much the standard protocol for these types of studies.

You know what they would find? An increase in protein synthesis over those four hours.

What does this prove? that if you haven't eaten since 10 PM the night before, do a brutal workout at 9 AM then drink a glass of milk, you will increase your protein synthesis for four hours!

So much for needing 30 grams of protein, and so much for needing protein every couple hours.

You know what else?..the only reason I say protein synthesis increases for 4 hours is because after 4 hours the researchers stopped measuring! who knows how long you would have stayed in a muscle building state. Some researchers have estimated that a single workout can put you into 'muscle building mode' for as long as 48 hours after your workout!

Even more interesting is that researchers have found similar results when they made people drink the amino acids before their workout, and even when they made them wait and drink the amino acids a couple hours after their workout!

Protein has a role in everyone's nutrition plan. And, it is a very important nutrient that does play a role in building and repairing muscles. From my understanding of the research I think it makes sense to try and consume a small amount of protein somewhere around the time you workout. I just don't think we need to be paying good money for tubs and tubs of the stuff, if the amount we get in our diets will serve our purposes just fine.

Brad Pilon is a strength training and nutrition professional and author of Eat Stop Eat. You can learn about his new book "Eat Stop Eat" that is quickly changing the way people think about dieting, by visiting http://www.eatstopeat.com Brad Pilon is an expert contributor at eFit-Today http://www.efit-today.com/public/department59.cfm

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