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Eating the Proper Amount of Protein

By Michelle Falsetta

Michelle, I hear a lot of conflicting theories about the how much protein is required for making consistent gains. I have been training for 4 years and would like to enter a bodybuilding competition but I want to go into it knowing everything there is to know. Or at least not going in blindfolded. Can you give me a more general answer?


Hello Kathy,

There is no quick answer that I can give you. However, I am used to people picking my brain so here you go....

On the average, bodybuilders are often mislead by all the supplement hype in the media today. The number one question I get asked from men and women is about how most pro bodybuilders consume 400 to 500 grams of protein per day and use it all.

Here are some facts about protein...It takes about one gram of protein for every two grams of bodyweight just to maintain the weight you already have. It takes 30 to 50% more protein to facilitate new growth. This is assuming you are training correctly. (Most people don't) 

This only pertains to 100% usable protein that's been properly absorbed and synthesized into usable nitrogen. What I mean by this is that all protein is NOT created equal. For instance, soy beans, eaten whole will leave the body the same way they entered it; undigested. So, instead of the 90% of protein the soy bean is made up of, your body will only absorb 10 grams out of a 50 gram serving. 

Now, your body only uses the equivalent of about 10% of your total bodyweight in protein grams per digestive cycle. (are you still with me)? The only exception to this is if you are not eating adequate carbohydrates to meet your body's energy requirements. In this case, your body draws on your protein stores for energy, which will intern reduce the protein available for maintenance and growth. These facts are very important because if you don't understand them, you will be on a protein "merry-go-round".

It is critical that you ingest the proper amount of the "right" kinds of fat so that your body properly metabolizes the protein and that you take in sufficient carbohydrates to spare all your usable protein without over
supplying glycogen, which will be quickly stored as body fat.

Kathy, you mentioned you want to know everything there is to know about proper nutrition prior to entering your first bodybuilding show. I certainly do not know everything and neither will you. However, knowing the basics and perhaps a little beyond that will certainly put you on the road to success.

I wish you luck!

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