How Much Exercise Should A 56 Year Old Woman Do How Much Protein Do You Need to Build Muscle?

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How Much Protein Do You Need to Build Muscle?

How much protein do you need to build muscle? I think there’s been disagreement about that for the last 100 years. In fact, since man (or woman) first picked up a stone, the bench pressed it and made a posture of monstrous size, the most muscular; there’s been a showdown between the “eat until the protein comes out of your ear” group and the “you don’t need any blank protein to build muscle – look at a rhino” group.

When I first started pumping iron, the two camps seemed best represented by Bill Pearl with the “you don’t need a lot of protein” and Vince Gironda who advocated serious protein use. Following some of what Vince suggested; I would eat nothing but steak and eggs for breakfast during football season and carbs with loads of spaghetti on game day. Now that seems crazy.

I guess I’ve followed the high protein mindset pretty much my whole life. When I exercised a lot, I averaged one gram of protein per pound of body weight. I would eat between 180 and 220 grams of protein per day. Those periods when I didn’t train as much, I still consumed about 100 grams a day. Did it work for me? Was the high protein content what helped me put on nearly 210 pounds of decent muscle a few years (or eight) ago? Maybe or maybe not; I definitely couldn’t tell because I had no point of reference.

So how much protein is enough? This question is very similar to another question that asks, “How long should a man’s leg be?” One answer might be, “as long as it takes to land.” You need as much protein as you need to build muscle, for you.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that protein intake be between 10% and 35% of a 2,000-calorie diet. This amount translates into a whopping 50 to 175 grams of protein. This is really big and doesn’t help much. Even among the experts there are some question marks, or at least that’s how I interpret them being given such a wide range.

And no wonder, after all; You cannot underestimate the importance of protein for everyday life, let alone muscle building. Proteins are essential for human life. Skin, bones, muscles and organ tissue contain protein. Proteins are also found in blood, hormones and enzymes.

You need protein. The question is again, how much do you need? Your body takes ingested protein and breaks it down into its amino acid components for use. The body cannot store unused protein. Any unneeded amino acids are stripped of their nitrogen and stored as fat (or used as energy). Nitrogenous elements are processed as waste by the kidney and liver. Not being an expert or a guru here, you might want to verify all of this, but I think I’m in the ballpark.

So if you only need 100 grams but eat 180 grams, guess what, the balance of the 80 grams is fat around the gut or poo. Either way, too much causes excessive stress on the body. Protein is not a good source of energy, unless you’re a big cat roaming the plains of the Serengeti. So there’s no incentive to eat more protein than you need. Quite the contrary, you punish your body by consuming more than you need.

But get this, after all the thousands and thousands of years, there is still no scientific basis for thinking that high protein consumption is better for building muscle. There is no scientific reason to think you need one gram of protein for every pound of body weight. There are none that I know of.

Nothing more and nothing less than what seems to be common sense. If OK, your average bear needs 45 to 70 grams of protein (female and male, respectively); So wouldn’t it make sense that your muscle-building grizzly bear would need a lot more? The red flag, however, is that many supplement companies use this type of reasoning to push many expensive protein powders.

As for what I propose, well, this is what I do. Being almost 49, I just don’t have the energy or desire to be a gym rat again. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in working out or being healthy. On the contrary, with two girls, I have a huge incentive to live a long life; long enough to see my daughters eventually have daughters of their own.

I eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits. And I drink 10-15 cups of water a day. As a real meat eater, they probably make my 75 grams a day easy. But since I train about 45 minutes every other day pretty hard, I now drink about two tall glasses of milk a day. And I probably consume about 12 eggs a week, more or less. All of this probably increases my protein intake to an average of 110 grams per day, which I think works for me.

But it’s all an inexact science. How do I know it works for me? Well, less than that; I’m hungry and in a bad mood. Vince Gironda used to say that protein keeps hunger pangs at bay and makes you feel full. I will buy it. I know that if I drink less water, I feel dehydrated. Less protein and I feel cranky. Is it really a real reason to eat my 100 to 110 grams of protein, no, but it’s my way of listening to my body.

And that’s ultimately the key here, I think. You need to listen to your body. Your body will tell you if you are not consuming enough complex carbohydrates. Your body will tell you if you are eating too much protein (increased girth will be a sign).

If nothing else, start with your basic protein requirement of 75 grams and add 50%; then evaluate how you respond. How are your workouts? How are your energy levels and how quickly do you recover? Based on these observations, reduce or add a little more. I talked about the 3 circles and how you should move them; well, right here.

Finally, I no longer recommend buying tons of protein powder. Instead, I think it would be just as well to drink more milk (or soy) and have a few more eggs a day. These are quality protein sources and pennies on the dollar compared to protein powders on the market today. A quart of milk and 3 eggs will add about 56 grams of protein to your diet. Do you need more?

Also, if you eat three balanced meals a day with about a quarter pound of meat as part of that meal; you will probably consume 28-30 grams in this seat. That gives you between 80 and 90 grams per day. Now add the excess milk and the eggs; that will put you in the 150 gram range. And guess what, you didn’t have to buy a super-premium nitrogen-enhanced whey concentrate and a super-duper high-proof protein powder.

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