Without hard work you’re not going to do much of anything in this world. Laziness is inherently evil because it wastes the talents and potential and the capacity for goodness and greatness that you have. It’s this notion of “wasting” potential by not applying ourselves that we must also apply to our training.
Assuming you are a hard worker and that you understand the uselessness of laziness, why not get the most from that work? Why would you waste it?
Protein is an interesting thing, rather, the way we view protein is interesting.
The meatheads see it as their Savior. The fat loss crowd (which is a much bigger crow), also see protein as the meathead’s macro, when the truth is no matter your goal, but especially if your goal is to burn fat, get ripped, and build a strong, athletic body, protein is the macro that will largely determine whether you’re going to get the most from your training, or not.
Fats are great, they help naturally increase testosterone, namely free testosterone, but we’ve already covered fats here.
Carbs are great and necessary as well. We need them for energy, to maintain muscle mass and burn fat and to survive.
Protein, though, is the macro that too few of us consume enough of. It’s also surrounded by myth and where myth prevails results cannot.
Why You Need More Protein
To begin, you need to understand the value of muscle. Muscle is what will increase your metabolism, help you burn more fat, get stronger, and become, at least physically, the man you want to become.
By correlation and because of the fact that muscle is so important in fat loss, it also boosts your testosterone levels because of how it increases efficiency. By adding more muscle to your frame you increase your insulin sensitivity, helping you keep your body fat levels low and your testosterone levels high (body fat is very estrogenic).
Muscle tissue is made up largely of proteins. When you weight train – or resistance train in any manner – you’re essentially breaking down muscle tissue and through a process known as “protein synthesis” the body creates (synthesizes) new muscle proteins to replace and add to the damaged tissues – how you build muscle.
Because of the role protein plays in the repairing of muscle tissue, it makes sense that the more, or the harder you train, the more protein your body requires and uses.
Protein Myth: It Hurts Your Kidneys
One of the prevailing myths about protein is that it destroys your kidneys. It’s a part of the mass hysteria created by a human who wants to create chaos to fit their own agenda. In another article someone linked a high protein diet to cancer and simultaneously set off a firestorm of mass hysteria, leading people to throw out their steaks and their whey. We won’t address that human, nor will we mention the original article, because it’s manipulative, and the research paints a different story.
If you’re still weary of a high protein diet, I also recommend you check out this article by Dr. Spencer Nadolsky from Examine.com: High Protein Diets Linked to Cancer: Shoulder You Be Concerned?
The Truth About Protein
Where my results have fluctuated most – assuming my training has been up to par – it’s been with an increase or reduction in my protein consumption. If I’m below .8 grams of protein per pound, my body doesn’t recover quite as fast, but what’s even more noticeable is that my body fat levels definitely increase. When I’m around the 1 gram of protein per pound mark, I thrive.
Now, it’s not always simple or easy to hit the right amount of protein, but I’ll show you how I do that in a second.
First, Protein and Fat Loss
Where I see the greatest changes when my protein consumptions rise to that 1 gram per pound mark is in my ability to burn fat, or to keep fat levels low while gaining muscle. And yes, the studies like this do show that you will lose fat faster with a high protein diet, and the reasoning seems to point toward the fact that you’re going to lose less muscle at the same time.
This ability to maintain muscle while at a caloric deficit results in an increase in fat loss, greater insulin health, and an increased metabolism, essentially creating the perfect storm for fat loss (assuming you’re training correctly). This ability to maintain – and even gain – muscle while at a caloric deficit isn’t relegated to the young among us, as it’s also been shown to occur with the elderly (which adds even more credence to the benefits of a high protein diet).
You see, as you age you experience muscle loss. This is very important because your bones also weaken, and while resistance training has been shown to fight both – resistance training helps prevent osteoporosis – a high protein diet is necessary to achieve optimal results even if you’re past the retirement age. In fact, the elderly actually require more protein than the younger among us, likely because of this natural loss in muscle mass that occurs as we age.
While protein definitely helps you maintain more lean muscle mass, a high protein diet has also been shown to help you eat fewer calories overall by making you feel fuller, for longer periods both on an overall diet standpoint and on a per meal basis.
Protein, Muscle Mass, and How Much to Consume
If protein helps prevent muscle loss by repairing muscle tissue and increasing muscular growth, then yes, a high protein diet also helps you build muscle. The gym-heads have known this for decades, the fat loss crowd is only now coming around to the importance of protein.
So, the only thing left to do is to determine how much to consume, and I already did that for you…
Here are two studies from universities up here in the great white North that both confirm that protein intake should, ideally, be around the .8-1 grams per pound of body weight mark:
- Study from McMaster University, concluded that the optimal protein intake to initiate protein synthesis landed in the .6-.8 per pound of body weight mark, however, more protein is needed depending on how hard you are training and how often you’re training.
- The University of Western Ontario concluded the same.
Your protein intake is determined by both your body type and your goal, but also your diet. If you’re at a caloric deficit and still training hard, you could need up to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight. If you you’re at a caloric surplus you can dip to the .8 mark.
How to Ensure You Get Enough Protein
I rely heavily, now, on meal plans. I didn’t used to though, and my results suffered greatly. When I was left to “aim” at getting a protein source per meal, as most trainers suggest, I wasn’t getting nearly enough and I wasn’t nearly lean enough.
Remember, body fat opposes testosterone, so even if your goal isn’t to get shredded, your goal should be to get shredded, because your body fat levels have a high impact on your hormone levels, which have a high impact on your mental health and physical health and performance.
And so, I created meal plans that do the following:
- Allow you to shut your brain off and just EAT!
When you can just look at a piece of paper and prepare whatever meal is in front of your face, you’re going to get the right amount of protein in your diet.
- Give you the proper amount of protein based upon your weight.
Instead of trying to calculate everything based on where you are and where you want to be, a meal plan that you can print out and blindly follow will do all of that frustrating work for you.
Without meal plans I’m lost, and I know what I’m doing or at least what I’m looking for from my food sources. These meal plans help you get the protein you need from the sources that are optimal (namely meats and dairy).