What You Should Know About Protein and Exercise

Doubling the protein you eat, while weight training, produces a 25 percent increase in muscle mass and a 10 percent increase in strength, according to a newly published study. This study combined the results of more than four dozen prior studies to produce a much deeper look into the linkage between protein consumption and muscle growth.

This research suggests that adults can benefit from doubling their consumption of protein above the current federal nutrition guidelines. The existing recommendation of 56 grams of protein daily for men—and 46 grams for women—is less than half the optimum value of 130 grams of protein, according to the study. This is equivalent to consuming 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily.

These levels of protein consumption were traditionally viewed as unnecessary for anyone other than perhaps bodybuilders and serious athletes. Common nutritional guidance held that this excess protein was not used by the body. This new look supplies persuasive evidence that even novice lifters can benefit.

Don’t wait.  Don’t leave your body starved for the building blocks of lean, healthy muscle. You can meet these needs through upping your consumption of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and beans at meal time or by adding a protein shake following exercise.

This study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and it aggregated the results of 49 high-quality studies encompassing 1,863 participants. The New York Times Well Blog provides a longer summary of these new recommendations.