Q: How much protein should I have everyday if I’m trying to gain strength (weightlifting) in addition to training?
This is an interesting question. The answer really depends on a few different things regarding your diet and training.
First, determine how much protein your body needs!
Here are the numbers by the books. The average adult is recommended to get 0.36 g/pound of body weight in order to meet dietary needs. Once you throw in training, things change a bit. For endurance training(marathon runners, swimmers, etc.) the requirement goes up to a little over 0.36 g/pound, all the way to 0.63 g/pound. Resistance training can bump the requirement up to 0.77 g/pound.
Here’s the catch: since you are lifting and training martial arts, you don’t really fall into any one of those categories.
Because you are essentially an exercise mutt, you can bet you’ll need somewhere between 0.36 and 0.77 g/pound, depending on how much you are training. So for a 150-lb human, that can range from 54 grams of protein all the way to 116 grams!
Look at this tiny piece of chicken below. This is 3 oz. which gives you HALF of your daily recommended protein intake if you are the “average adult” that weighs 150 lbs. Now depending on where your body falls in the spectrum, you’ll have to eat 2 to 4 of these servings per day (pretty big difference!)
Second, “weightlifting” can mean just about anything nowadays. What kind of training are you doing?
These days the term “weightlifting” can mean anything from circuit training, to power lifting, to olympic lifts, and many others (I’ve seen some strange training styles on the internet).
If you are doing low reps and high weight, you are going to see higher strength gains then if you are running from weight to weight and doing a backflip off a bosu ball in between. If gaining strength is your primary goal, make sure you are on a program that will get you strong, and not have you trying to ride two horses with one behind.
Lastly, don’t neglect your other macronutrients which are as important as protein!
Carbs and fats are going to play just as important of a role in your quest for strength as protein. If you completely deprive your body of all carbohydrates, you may find yourself in a catabolic state. Catabolic means that, because your body is empty of all carbs, something has to keep it running. Some of this fuel will come from fat, and some of this will come from protein, aka, precious muscle.
On top of that, healthy fats found in nuts, eggs, and various other sources are necessary for healthy hormone production. Want to boost your testosterone? You don’t have to call up Vitor Belfort, just make sure you are getting your fair share of fats.
Start recording your diet and exercise daily. If you want to do it the old school way, get yourself a journal and just write it down. There are plenty of diet/exercise journals you can find online that are relatively cheap and will make it easy. If you are a cool, hip youngster like myself, then there are plenty of apps that are super convenient. Myfitnesspal is my personal favorite. You can search all your favorite foods and exercises, and it will show results right down to the brand name.
So that’s it! Nutrition can be a complicated topic. You will often hear a lot of contradicting recommendations, and they might both be right. There is always more than one way to skin a cat (or build it some killer lats), and there are constant studies and reports clogging my Facebook news feed. However, I hope this helps make it a little simpler to understand. Happy training!
PS – It’s always recommended to get that protein from animal sources. However, don’t be afraid to add in some protein supplements. There are a lot of different kinds of protein supplements on the market, but I prefer whey protein as a quick, easy way to boost my protein intake.