Weight loss isn’t everything. Just because you are in a caloric deficit and losing weight doesn’t mean that you will be healthier or get the body of your dreams. If you follow EBT, chances are you also want to keep that precious muscle, lose fat and maybe even perform better in your sport. No matter what your goal, you probably benefit from adding more protein to your diet.
As we wrote above, protein is made of building blocks called amino acids. Your body uses the amino acids from the protein you eat for many different processes in the body, and one of these processes is maintaining and building muscle. The more muscle you have, the more protein you need to be eating to maintain. This is why should keep separate track of your protein intake, measuring your protein needs based on your body weight (per kg or per lb body weight).
Optimal protein levels are 1.6 – 2.2 g / kg (0.7 – 1 g / lb)
So if you weight 70 kg (150 lb) you should be eating around 110 – 150 g of protein per day
You should stick to these levels no matter if you are eating 2000 or 3000 calories daily. When dieting you should even aim to stay in the upper range (around 2.0 g / kg or 0.9 g / lb body weight. If you instead measured protein intake in % of calories, you would probably end up eating too little protein when dieting: It doesn’t matter that 80% of your diet is protein if you are not getting enough grams for your muscles, leading to muscle loss.
Most people today are eating around 1.2 g / kg (0.5 g / lb) (3). That makes for about 85 grams per day if you weight 70 kg (150 lb).
From a health perspective, the minimum recommended amount is 0.8 g / kg or 0.4 g / lb (2), but what works is not the same as what works best!
Boosting protein intake will benefit muscle growth by almost 40% (3), strength development by almost 10% (3) and will also make you feel fuller, so that you eat less calories at the end of the day. (4)
There are several ways you can increase protein intake in your diet:
- Eat more protein-rich foods: these include eggs, yoghurts, quark (extra popular in Sweden!), cottage cheese, beans, lentils, chicken, fish and meats. Simply increase the amount of these foods in your diet. Try counting how many grams you are getting for a few days so that you know how much you need to be eating.
- Add a protein supplement: If you find it difficult to adjust the foods you eat, protein supplements are a convenient way of adding more protein to your diet. A protein shake contains on average 30 grams of protein, meaning that the average person goes from suboptimal 85 grams of protein per day to optimal 115 grams of protein per day!
There are many supplements to choose from including whey protein, casein protein, soy protein, pea protein, milk protein, BCAA supplements and EAA supplements. Research hasn’t shown that one source is better than the other for building muscle. Therefore EBT recommends you to choose the supplement that is cheapest, from a producer you trust. This usually means choosing whey protein for most people. We do not primarily recommend investing in BCAAs och EAA supplements as they are more expensive and don’t provide any known added long-term benefit.
It’s important to remember that the most important thing is how much protein you have eaten by the end of the day. The details don’t matter! Protein timing, how much you should eat before or after your workout, before you sleep, how many grams you need per meal etc all probably have minimal importance compared to the actually amount of protein that you end up eating by the end of the day. So keep it simple and do what works for you!