One of the most common questions I receive is, “How much protein do I really need?” Well, it depends. “What does it depend on?” Actually, it depends on a lot of factors above and beyond the nature of this blog post! But for our purposes I am going to provide you with some basic (and, I do mean basic!) guidelines for determining your protein needs.
Please note, just like with anything nutrition-related there are many variables that come into play when determining your protein needs. Factors such as the type of training you participate in, how much lean mass you carry and gender are just to name a few! So please be advised the guidelines below are to provide a starting point — not a definitive end point. Therefore, please don’t freak out if your protein intake is higher or lower than these values. You can always tweak it!
Now, let me walk you through the simple process to determine your own personal daily protein needs.
Typical Types of Athletes
First things first!
When determining an individual’s protein needs I first need to know how an athlete primarily trains. This is easy because in the world of sports nutrition there are only two basic modalities; you are either an endurance athlete or an athlete who participates in resistance training. Once we know this info the rest is straight-forward math as you will see.
Protein Needs for Endurance Athletes vs. Resistance Athletes
For endurance athletes my protein recommendations range for them from 1.2-1.4 grams protein/kg/day. In contrast, for athletes who participate in resistance training the range is slightly higher at 1.6 -1.7 grams/kg/day.
But what about Crossfit Athletes?
We all know in the world of Crossfit (CF), athletes do not fit perfectly into either of these two little pretty boxes. Crossfit athletes often participate in both modes of training often in the same training session. Hence, it would not be fair to suggest they are solely an endurance-based athlete or just a resistance-based athlete.
Therefore, I find the best approach for CF athletes is to take the averages of both ranges and work off a suggested protein range of 1.4 -1.6 g/kg/day. By following this recommendation, the CF athlete can optimize their nutrition while working towards their performance goals.
Let’s look at a couple of examples!
Example 1: Female Crossfit Athlete
Weight: 155 pounds (* 70.4 kg)
Nutritional Needs: 1.4 – 1.6 g/kg/day
Low end of the range: (70.4 kg) (1.4 g/kg/d) = 98.56 grams
High end of the range: (70.4 kg) (1.6 g/kg/d) = 112.64
Therefore, for the above female athlete I would suggest a range of ~ 100 – 115 grams of protein per day.
*To convert to kg simply take your weight in pounds and multiply by a factor of 0.45. Using the above example (155)(0.45) = 70.4 kg
Example 2: Male Crossfit Athlete
Weight: 198 pounds (89.8 kg)
Nutritional Needs: 1.4 – 1.6 g/kg/day
Low end of the range: (89.8 kg) (1.4 g/kg/d) = 125.72 grams
High end of the range: (89.8 kg) (1.6 g/kg/d) = 143.68 grams
Therefore, for the above male athlete I would suggest a range of ~ 125 – 140 grams of protein per day.
Wrapping it up
See – determining your protein needs is not so hard! If you are a Crossfit athlete and looking for some basic guidelines on how much protein to consume on a daily basis – all you need to know if your body weight and some basic math skills. Using the basic the assumption that Crossfit athletes need on average 1.4 – 1.6 grams/kg/day you can easily determine your minimum protein needs. Easy-peezy!
Want to dig a little deeper on how to make sure you are meeting these protein needs? Have questions on which protein supplements are best pre or post workout? Or just have some basic nutrition questions you have been dying to find the answers to?
Then come to my Question & Answer Nutrition Session this Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 12:30 pm. I will be at CFM answering your nutrition related questions. This is a great opportunity to swing by and pick my brain. I would love to see you!
Can’t make it — but still have questions? No problem! Did you know I accept most major insurances for nutritional counseling? Many patients have unlimited visits without even knowing it. Dang! Now, that is a benefit worth having. Shoot me an email and we can connect firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hugs & High Fives,