Protein – Are you getting enough?

‘How much protein should I be eating if I want to build muscle?’ It is one of the most common questions I get asked and the area where most people are going wrong in their attempts to build extra mass.

In all probability you’re not eating as much as I recommend. In all the years of working with over 500 professional rugby players I’ve only come across a few who were eating as much as I recommend.

There are lots of MYTHS and UNTRUTH’s surrounding protein consumption one of the most common I come across is that the body can only digest 30 grams in any one serving, this has been doing the rounds since the 1970’s and I think it was fueled by the guys at the world famous Golds Gym. 

Most rumours have a grain of truth in them and this one comes from research conducted  with elderly hospitalised patients. The study apparently found that taking more than 30g of protein for these patients conferred no extra anabolic advantage.  That’s where the myth comes from, it’s not been found true for healthy individuals.

Are there any risks of consuming too much protein?

There are some purported adverse effects of consuming too much protein but these have been overblown and many review documents have pronounced excess protein consumption as having no adverse effects.  No studies have ever reported liver or kidney damage in healthy people from consuming excess protein.

I’m a  fan of the paleolithic diet that proposes that from an evolutionary stand point our digestive system is more attuned to the hunter gatherer style of eating that we’ve had over the hundred’s of thousands of years of human existence.  Can you imagine our pre-historic ancestors saying ‘You better not eat any more of that woolly mammoth as all that extra protein is going to be wasted’

There are a couple of proviso’s with ‘excess’ protein consumption make sure you remain well hydrated and you should consult your Doctor if you have any kidney disease or have a family history of kidney problems.

Protein – The Muscle building Cornerstone

There are many facets involved in building muscle in fact when I consult with clients and professional athletes my Regenerate system includes 25 different supplements. However consuming the right volume of protein should be the cornerstone of every muscle building program.

The figure that I’ve settled with after monitoring the performance of the athletes that I work with and recommend in a Muscle Building anabolic phase is 3.5g Protein per Kg Body weight, so a 100 Kg athlete would eat 350 g of protein. It’s a lot of protein to get through, you’re be looking at the equivalent of about 13 cans of tuna.  Having to eat this much is why protein powders are so popular!

The level of 3.5kg is slightly higher than some professional bodies recommend however it’s the level that get’s the best results with my athletes.

Two other tips I recommend are to include protein with every meal and include protein from 3 different sources in each meal e.g. don’t just eat 2 or 3 chicken breasts in one go have less chicken and have a serving of cottage cheese and an omelette and maybe a whey shake on the side.  Or if you are having a whey shake then add some cottage cheese or yoghurt with it or maybe some liquid egg whites.


Matt Lovell – Elite Sports Nutritionist

Matt Lovell - Elite Sports Nutritionist

Matt Lovell is an Elite Sports Nutritionist. He has worked with the England Rugby Team since 2002 and also currently works with 4 premiership teams and UK Athletics team as they prepare for the Olympic Games in London in 2012..  His primary website is  chock full of useful Sports Nutrition information and if you leave a question Matt’s really good at getting back to you.

Matt has written a comprehensive guide on Preparing for a Big Event, the popular Fat Loss Program Four Week Fat Loss and Regenerate a Muscle Building Nutrition program.


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