Possibly you’re having bother discovering excessive protein meals. 

Possibly you’re touring and might’t persist with your regular meal plan. 

Possibly you’re merely bored with consuming a lot of protein and would quite eat extra carbs and fats for a number of days. 

In case you’ve ever discovered your self in considered one of these conditions, you’ve most likely requested your self this query: 

How little protein are you able to eat with out dropping muscle?

In any case, consuming ample protein (often outlined as one gram per pound of physique weight per day) is taken into account a canon of gaining and sustaining muscle. And, after all, it is best to typically eat a high-protein weight loss plan to take care of a lean, muscular physique.

But when for some motive it’s troublesome to fulfill your protein wants, how low are you able to go?

Hold studying to get evidence-based solutions to those questions.

What Is Protein?

A protein is a big molecule made up of chains of smaller compounds referred to as amino acids

You possibly can consider amino acids because the “constructing blocks” of many bodily tissues, together with muscle, hair, nails, and pores and skin. 

In addition they play an important position in lots of bodily processes. For instance, they allow you to preserve wholesome bones, bolster your immune system, and restore cells all through your physique.

Your physique is ready to create 12 amino acids however should get hold of the ultimate 9 from the meals you eat. This is the reason you could eat protein to outlive.

Discover the Good Dietary supplements for You in Simply 60 Seconds

You do not want dietary supplements to construct muscle, lose fats, and get wholesome. However the precise ones may also help. Take this quiz to study which of them are greatest for you.

Take the Quiz

Why Is Protein Essential for Weightlifters?

Weightlifters require extra protein than much less lively individuals to make sure their muscle tissue get well from coaching and develop bigger and stronger.

Whereas the precise quantity stays below scientific debate, most specialists agree that weightlifters ought to eat at the very least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of physique weight per day (g/lb/d) to maximise muscle development, although extra is seemingly higher. 

How Little Protein Can You Eat With out Dropping Muscle?

Hitting your day by day protein goal isn’t at all times doable.

As an example, it may be difficult to search out high-protein meals and dietary supplements whereas on trip, making it troublesome to achieve the steered 0.8 g/lb/d.

In such conditions, you would possibly shift your focus from aiming for optimum protein consumption to assist muscle development to consuming simply sufficient to take care of your muscle.

However how a lot are you able to lower your protein consumption with out jeopardizing your features?

A number of elements, together with calorie consumption, coaching frequency, and weightlifting expertise, can have an effect on this quantity, making it powerful to offer an actual determine.

In case you’re new to weightlifting (you’ve been coaching for six months or fewer), research present that you just most likely don’t must eat a lot protein to forestall muscle loss.  

For instance, in a examine performed by the College of Illinois, new weightlifters who skilled twice weekly and consumed simply ~0.4 g/lb/d misplaced only a pound of muscle throughout a 4-month(!) weight loss plan. 

In one other 4-week examine performed by scientists at McMaster College, novice weightlifters who skilled twice weekly, ate in a calorie deficit, and consumed simply ~0.55 g/lb/d for 3 weeks gained a modicum of muscle. 

Subsequently, offered new weightlifters proceed coaching, they seemingly solely must eat ~0.5 g/lb/d to take care of muscle whereas weight-reduction plan. For the reason that physique wants much less protein to protect muscle when sustaining or bulking, learners might probably eat a bit lower than ~0.5 g/lb/d when not in a calorie deficit (although it’s not clear precisely how a lot much less protein is required when consuming at upkeep or in a deficit).

This isn’t sufficient for seasoned weightlifters to keep away from muscle loss, although. 

As an example, in a examine performed by the College of Birmingham, athletes who continued to coach 4-to-5 occasions weekly and ate 0.45 g/lb/d misplaced 3.5 kilos of lean mass, together with fairly a little bit of muscle, throughout a 2-week weight loss plan.

Most analysis suggests a extra becoming determine for weightlifters who’ve been coaching a 12 months or extra is ~0.7 g/lb/d. 

In a examine revealed in The Worldwide Journal of Sport Diet and Train Metabolism, researchers discovered that consuming ~0.7 g/lb/d was sufficient for weightlifters to take care of all their muscle after a 2-week weight-loss weight loss plan. 

Likewise, in an older examine revealed within the Worldwide Journal of Sports activities Medication, researchers discovered that skilled weightlifters who ate ~0.7 g/lb/d throughout a week-long weight-loss weight loss plan maintained a constructive nitrogen steadiness—an indicator they didn’t lose muscle whereas in a calorie deficit. 

One other small examine revealed within the Worldwide Journal of Sport Diet and Train Metabolism discovered comparable outcomes—skilled weightlifters who ate ~0.7 g/lb/d for two weeks whereas weight-reduction plan to lose fats misplaced an insignificant quantity of muscle.

Once more, provided that ~0.7 g/lb/d is sufficient to preserve muscle in a deficit, we could be fairly positive that ~0.7 g/lb/d is sufficient to protect muscle whereas consuming upkeep energy. In actual fact, you may most likely go as little as 0.5 g/lb/d for those who’re an skilled weightlifter consuming at upkeep or in a calorie surplus.

To sum up: 

  • In case you’re new to weightlifting (you’ve been coaching a 12 months or much less), you may eat as little as 0.5 g/lb/d whereas chopping, and possibly even lower than this whereas consuming at upkeep or in a calorie surplus. 
  • In case you’re an skilled weightlifter (you’ve been following a structured power coaching program for a 12 months or extra) and in a calorie deficit, purpose to eat at the very least 0.7 g/lb/d.
  • In case you’re an skilled weightlifter consuming at upkeep or in a calorie surplus, you may most likely eat lower than 0.7 g/lb/d (0.5 g/lb/d is an efficient estimate), however there isn’t a lot knowledge to point out that is the case.

There are a number of riders that go together with these suggestions: 

First, all of this assumes you’re resistance coaching at the very least a few times per week. This is a vital a part of muscle retention since it alerts to your physique that your muscle is important and price preserving. That is notably essential when consuming in a calorie deficit.

Second, all of this assumes you’re going to be consuming this fashion for at the very least every week or extra. You possibly can safely scale back your protein consumption to basically zero for a day with out dropping an considerable quantity of muscle, so a few days of consuming little or no protein (similar to a calorie-filled weekend trip) poses no danger to your muscle tissue. 

Third, for those who’re like most individuals, the almost definitely situation during which you’ll be consuming little or no protein is for those who’re on trip and consuming plenty of high-fat, high-carb meals. Whereas it could not seem to be it, most of those meals nonetheless comprise sufficient protein to simply get you over the 0.5 g/lb/d mark.

As an example, let’s say your breakfast consists of half of a baguette (440 energy, 17 grams of protein), two ounces of full-fat cheese (224 energy, 14 grams of protein), and a croissant (230 energy, 5 grams of protein).

Lunch is a giant bowl of pasta in cream sauce (900 energy, 20 grams of protein) and a cup of gelato for dessert (470 energy, 9 grams of protein). 

Dinner is a big bowl of risotto with cheese and peas (900 energy, 22 grams of protein), 4 breadsticks (560 energy, 16 grams of protein), adopted by a chocolate bar (440 energy, 6 grams of protein). 

Regardless of consuming basically no high-protein meals (even cheese is primarily fats), this indulgent vacationer consumed 109 grams of protein. That’s about 0.55 grams of protein per pound for a 200-lb man. 

In case you’d like much more particular recommendation about how a lot of every macronutrient, what number of energy, and which meals it is best to eat to achieve your well being and health objectives, take the Legion Weight loss plan Quiz. In lower than a minute, you’ll know precisely what weight loss plan is best for you. Click on right here to test it out.

+ Scientific References