If you want to build and maintain lean muscle mass, you have to eat plenty of high-quality protein. However, most Americans already consume enough protein in their diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, so increasing protein intake will most likely lead to weight gain. To avoid accumulating excess body fat, stay within your daily protein needs.
The CDC says sedentary-to-lightly-active adult women and men need 46 grams and 56 grams of protein per day, respectively. Most adults consume a far greater amount of protein. Each gram of protein you eat contains about four calories, so increasing your protein intake also increases the number of calories you’re consuming. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as body fat.
If you exercise consistently, your body has additional needs for protein. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to resort to protein supplements. In some cases, this might simply cause an increase in body fat levels. According to the University of California at Los Angeles, strength-training athletes might need .73 to .82 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This is about twice as much as sedentary individuals. Exceeding this recommendation can lead to excess calories from protein being stored as body fat.
Your body is only able to process a certain amount of protein at once. This amount varies from person to person, but is influenced by your physical activity level and types of protein you eat. Whey protein, for instance, is one of the fastest and most easily absorbed proteins. Whey protein can be processed at a rate of about 8 to 10 grams per hour. A single serving of whey is fully digested within about 1.5 hours, so if you consume more than 15 grams of whey in a sitting, the extra may cause weight gain.
To avoid gaining fat, make sure to not exceed your body’s maximum usable amount of protein. According to UCLA, this is equal to about .91 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For a 170-pound person, this is about 155 grams of protein per day. It’s also important to divide your intake of protein equally among each of your daily meals. For example, 100 grams of protein could be divided into 20-gram portions eaten at five meals throughout the day.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.