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Informed Protein Consumption

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It’s true: Muscles do thrive on protein. In combing through 49 high-quality studies involving 1,863 men and women, a team of international researchers found a strong link between protein supplementation intake and increased muscle size and strength among those who regularly engaged in resistance training, according to a study in the January edition of the British Journal of Sports Nutrition. Contrary to bro-science, however, it’s not necessary to consume giant steaks and add scoops of protein powder to your oatmeal to get enough of this macronutrient to support training efforts.

A study in the November 2017 edition of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that recovery from training (measured by reported muscle soreness and subsequent performance on exercises like bench press) did not vary significantly among 14 healthy adults during two 10-day dietary regimens. In one regimen, participants consumed a manageable 1.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. In the other, they took in a lofty 2.9 g/kg/d.

According to a June 2017 position statement by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “For building muscle mass and for maintaining muscle mass through a positive muscle protein balance, an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.4–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient for most exercising individuals.” Thus, those who work out regularly need guidance on the importance of eating enough daily protein and discerning how that balance translates sensibly to avoid overconsumption.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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