T Nation

We dont need protein for bodybuilding? How to beat this false stone-age statement?

Audi TT, Draz and I got in contact via Chris: Draz sent him a request to give me his email address and Chris was kind enough to forward it to me.

A review of recent research clearly demonstrates that the 0.5 gm/lb (1.1 gm/kg) often recommended by PE coaches and dietitians is insufficient to meet the needs of active individuals. Giving one flat recommendation is limiting and thus stifling for the evolution of science and practice. Data from Lemon et al indicate that novice bodybuilders need 1.4-1.5 gm PRO/kg to reach nitrogen balance (not positive N balance, but rather zero balance) (2). Studies examining protein (essential amino acids alone and mixed with CHO) supplementation following resistance exercise have found a positive effect on muscle and whole body protein metabolism (3, 4). One of the main goals of resistance training is to induce skeletal muscle enlargement. It is clear that in order to enlarge skeletal muscle, one must provide (via diet) the extra amino acids needed to support this anabolic process. This cannot happen if muscle protein degradation exceeds protein synthesis. Data indicates than aerobically trained athletes also experience greater protein needs (>1.1 gm/kg/d), providing that they are training at greater than 50% VO2 maximum (5). In terms of health, it now appears that even the elderly have greater protein needs in order to avoid or lessen sarcopenia (6). Additionally, in healthy athletic people, data indicates that protein intake of 2.8 gm/kg/d is safe causing no untoward effect on renal function (7,8). While it is possible to obtain the protein one needs through diet, we must be cognizant of contemporary athletic practices and research demonstrating a positive effect of specific nutrients given to the athlete at specific times throughout the day. Certainly, if eating protein in excess of the ADA’s recommendations had no merit, one would surmise that the practice would have ceased long ago. Yet, athletes (particularly bodybuilders and strength-power athletes) have consistently consumed more than twice the RDA of protein despite the recommendations from dietary “experts.” Though this “trial-and-error” approach is an anathema to many scientists, we believe that it is important to be cognizant of the actual dietary practices of athletes.

Bill, I think you misunderstood my post. I am not saying that one only needs to eat an extra 91 g of protein in a week. Things are much more complex that that. What I am saying is that if you gained a pound of muscle, there is only 91 g of protein in that newly synthesized muscle…again, muscle is mostly water and only about 20% protein.

I think that we can also both agree that very high protein intakes are more beneficial to steroid users than to natural athletes because of the effects of steroids on skeletal muscle protein synthesis.

Finally, I need to note that I am NOT saying that protein is not important. Lemon, MacDougall, and others have clearly demonstrated that protein needs of strength athletes are well in excess of the RDA. My point is that some bodybuilders and strength athletes emphasize protein intake over all else, including their caloric intake. But what happens is that this extra protein simply becomes an expensive way to get extra calories. MacDougall et al (I think it was them) demonstrated that dramatically high protein intakes (don’t recall the exact numbers) were simply accompanied by an increase in protein oxidation, i.e., subjects reached a point where when they took in more protein, their bodies simply broke it down for energy. Overall caloric intake is still the most important thing, protein is second. Some people forget that calories stimulate nitrogen retention just as protein does.

Sasa and Draž, I do not know Chris? Chris who?
Can you contact me… to share knowlwedge?