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Protein Requirements For Muscle Mass

It is the goal of all of us bodybuilders, fitness fanatics, workout buffs and gym-rats to have firm, shapely, muscular bodies.

This is the aim of everyone who picks up a weight, uses an exercise machine, runs or walks on a treadmill or engages in any other type of fitness regimen.

Anyone of us who has researched nutrition, dieting and energy boosting foods, is moving in this same direction with the same desired end results.

We are all aware that basic nutrition involves proteins, fats and carbohydrates; amino acids and fibrous complex carbs, plus lots of water. These elements are the sources of energy and tissue building and regeneration.

Also known is that protein is required in our diets to rebuild and enlarge muscle tissue. What we don't know is how much of our diet should be protein . . . and it is possible to have too much of a good thing?

Proteins come from meat, fish, chicken, beans, milk and in soy products (think tofu). Lesser amounts are found in nuts and minimal amounts in grains.

The minimum recommended daily allowances (RDA) are established by assorted nutrition authorities in each country. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that people of average weight and size require 70 grams of protein each day.

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Athletes require more than this RDA to support muscle repair, growth and to protect their bodies against the rigors of training. Sports authorities recommend that athletes should consume about double the amount of protein than the RDA of less active people, about 140 grams per day.

Bodybuilders and weight training athletes have responded for their increased need for protein by taking the RDA to extraordinary lengths, way beyond any scientifically established limits.

The excessive protein intake doesn't seem to have any negative long term effects in active weight trainers, but there could be risks for anyone with kidney disease, diabetes or a weight problem.

Excessive protein is broken down in the body from amino acids into ketones or glucose or energy cycle intermediates (protein can supply energy, but carbohydrates will not build muscle tissue).

Much of the excess is also processed into ammonia or urea and passed out of the body.

Three Ways to Establish Protein Requirements - Bodybuilder's Guide to Nutrition

* Body Weight - For average males, the requirement is less than one gram per kilogram of body weight. It is suggested that bodybuilders and other weight training athletes may consume up to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

* By Percentage of Macronutrients in Diet (protein, carbohydrates and fats) - The upper limit of protein consumption is 35% of the essential nutrition. This method requires complex calculations.

* By Daily Caloric Intake - As a percentage of total consumption, the upper limits recommended by a few weight training coaches is 40% protein:40% carbohydrates:20% fats. According to the US Dietary Reference Index, this is way too much protein.

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Are We Getting Correct Nutritional Data?

Many of the protein recommendations that abound in the bodybuilding world come from companies making protein supplements. There may be a conflict of interest here.

While the nutritional needs of bodybuilders and other active athletes may be higher than an average person by double, much more than that may be unnecessary.

Many of the protein supplements recommended by their manufacturers may be ineffective and unneeded in a weight lifting program.

There are so many different recommendations from a wide variety of sources, that it is easy to become confused. Nutrition is a science, not an art form.

The scientifically established RDA of protein is a little less than 1 gram per kilo (2.2 pounds) of bodyweight for men and slightly less than that for women.

Pregnant women should eat slightly more than men. Athletes can eat about double the protein without any negative side effects.

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