How much protein do we need ?
Athletes have higher protein needs than the general, non-exercising population. Some athletes can reach their daily protein targets from a balanced diet but others may have difficulty meeting protein requirements and will benefit from protein supplementation.
Protein is useful for all of us but the amounts we require are very different. As we are all individual the answer to the question ‘how much protein do I need’ will depend on your personal weight, goal and activity level.
According to Louise Burke at the Australian Institute of Sport, 20g of protein is the optimal amount for meals and snacks. This is equivalent to a small chicken breast, a small tin of tuna or 90g of tofu. Scientific research also shows that those with greater muscle mass can benefit from amounts as high as 40g per meal.
Healthy non-exercising individuals require a minimum of 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight and athletes and individuals with high activity levels require between 1.2-2g of protein per kg body weight.
E.g. 70kg elite male endurance athlete (70 x 1.6 = 112g protein per day)
The table below provides an indication of personal protein requirements based on activity level and body weight.
|Group||Protein intake (g/kg/day)|
|Sedentary men and women||0.8-1.0|
|Elite male endurance athletes||1.6|
|Moderate-intensity endurance athletes (a)||1.2|
|Recreational endurance athletes (b)||0.8-1.0|
|Football, power sports||1.4-1.7|
|Resistance athletes (early training)||1.5-1.7|
|Resistance athletes (steady state)||1.0-1.2|
|Female athletes||~15% lower than male athletes
Burke and Deakin, Clinical Sports Nutrition, 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd, 2006
The table below identifies the amount of protein found in a variety of foods.
|Food||Serve size||Protein (g)|
|Beef fillet, grilled, lean
Chicken fillet, skinless, grilled
Turkey, lean, baked
Pork, boneless, lean, cooked
Milk, full cream
Egg, hard boiled
Yoghurt, low fat, plain
Rice, white cooked
1 cup (250ml)
1 cup (250ml)
1 cup (250ml)
1 tub (200g)
1 slice (20g)
1 cup (160g)
1 slice (30g)
1 scoop (50g)
There are many reasons people choose protein shakes, but the most common reasons are to build muscle, lose weight, gain weight and muscle recovery. Most of us typically eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and experts recommend we include protein with each main meal, but snacks are often neglected and protein poor i.e. chips, biscuits, fruit, chocolate all contain low levels of protein. Protein shakes, drinks and bars are a great way to top up daily protein requirements and help split daily protein evenly throughout the day.
To help you choose a protein supplement that’s right for you, start by working out your total daily protein requirements and divide the amount by the number of meals you eat per day. This will give you a total about of protein you should look for on the label of your Musashi protein supplement when selecting a snack.
Weight gain athlete weighing 80kg
80kg x 1.8 = 144g protein per day
Divide the total (144g) by the amount of meals per day i.e. 5 meals per day = 29g protein per meal
The table below provides an example of how 144g of protein can be evenly divided throughout the day
|Breakfast||Morning Snack||Lunch||Afternoon Snack||Dinner|
|4 x Scrambled eggs on grain toast (29g protein)|| Musashi High Protein smoothie
|Large tin of Tuna & Salad
|Musashi Deluxe Protein Bar
|Chicken, vegetables and rice
By Gwen Gothard