Is contest diet protein allowance a real thing? Every successful lifter and figure competitor knows the significance of protein in the diet, but how does off-season nutrition differ from contest diet protein needs? If protein is the muscle-building macronutrient, do you need as much of it in your contest prep phase as you do in your muscle-building phase? Can you eat too much protein, and is protein bad for your kidneys?
Some Shocking Contest Diet Protein Myths And Truths That Just Might Surprise You…
In this article we’ll review the benefits of contest diet protein as well as some lame myths that don’t have a leg to stand on, and we’ll determine how much protein you need to build muscle and lose fat successfully.
What You Should Know About Protein
It’s not uncommon to see very muscular men and women scarfing down large protein meals. These individuals know the importance of protein in regards to, not just the body, but to muscle development. Quite simply, your body is composed of protein and water, two extremely vital elements that need to be continually supplied for proper balance, development, and overall health.
Protein is made up of a molecular chain of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Protein is the only macronutrient that carries nitrogen coining the statement, positive nitrogen balance. Oh, this is really helpful, right? Yes it is. Let me explain…
Benefits of Protein
Your body NEEDS a positive nitrogen balance for growth, development, and even reproduction! This means growth for muscles as well as hair, skin, nails, blood, etc. I mean, EVERY living cell in your body is constructed of protein. It doesn’t stop there. Protein is necessary for basic cellular function and transportation, as well as digestion and tissue repair. Protein creates healthy red blood cells and antibodies which help to prevent diseases and regulate normal body functions. This is why it’s absolutely CRITICAL that you eat a high-protein diet if you want to build muscle and compete in a physique competition.
Here’s the kicker though… Your body cannot make protein and therefore you have to receive via your diet. On the flip-side, your body can’t store protein for later use like it can with carbs. So this is why it’s critical that you eat several protein meals throughout the day, not to prevent the starvation defense from being enacted, but to keep a positive nitrogen balance.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Protein
The government created the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) during World War II. The standards were created based on food availability and it was meant to provide “superior nutrition.” It has been slightly tweaked at one time and the last update was in the late 1960s. Let’s see, in today’s world we have more diseases with no cures than ever before. Do you think the RDA is really effective for anything but to keep you malnourished?
As discussed, protein is vital to life. VITAL! Yet, our trusty RDA has set the protein standards to a measly 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. That’s less than ½ gram of protein per pound. If you are 140 pounds, then the RDA suggests you only need 50 grams of protein a day to thrive and be healthy.
How Much Protein Do You REALLY Need?
To be healthy and build muscle your contest diet protein needs depends on your stats. The more muscle you have the more protein you need. Once you establish how much protein you need for your body stats you need to divide that amount between 5-7 meals.
If you determine that you need 140 grams of protein a day to maintain and build muscle, divide that by x number of meals a day.
140 grams of protein can be broken down in several ways:
- 5 meals a day – 28 grams of protein per meal
- 6 meals a day – 23 grams of protein per meal
- 7 meals a day – 20 grams of protein per meal
Keep in mind that each time you eat a protein-rich meal you get a flow of chemicals circulating aiding in muscle building. If you don’t eat enough protein each day you will be in a negative nitrogen state, you won’t build muscle, and you can even burn muscle resulting in what’s known as catabolism, the dirty word in the fitness industry.
So, eat a protein-rich and balanced meal within 30 minutes of walking up and then every 3 hours after that until bed time.
Can You Eat Too Much Protein?
In regards to contest diet protein, can you eat too much? The answer is, yes. Sorry meat-heads, but it’s true. Rumors have circulated that you can eat up to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight is just totally insane. If you are 140 pounds and eat 280 grams of protein day, that’s 47 grams of protein per meal 6 meals! That’s FAR too much for your body to digest and process, and what happens to the excess protein? It will store as fat. Yes, shocking. Protein is stored as fat if you eat too much of it or if it’s not used.
It’s okay to go over on the protein a little here and there occasionally, but constantly overdosing on protein is just going to get you bulky (fat).
Protein Causes Kidney Damage
Oh wait, competitors can’t eat high-protein diets because all that protein causes kidney damage. Oh, this is a good one. No, protein does NOT mess up the kidneys.
When the body digests protein it creates metabolic waste which has to be removed from the kidneys.
Ammonia (metabolic waste of protein metabolism) is converted to urea and is excreted from the kidneys in urine. It is easy to see that a lot of water is needed to keep ammonia flushed out of your system.
Constant excessive nitrogen excretion can be hard on the kidneys IF you don’t drink enough water. This is one of the reasons why you see bodybuilders with a gallon jug and drinking a lot of water. The lack of adequate water intake puts a strain on your kidneys which can lead to damage. It’s not the high-protein diet that’s the problem, it’s NOT drinking enough water with a high protein intake.
Great sources of complete protein are:
Beef, fish, chicken, Cornish hen, deer, eggs, turkey, steak, protein drinks, etc. Any animal meat is a quality source of complete protein. White meat tends to contain less fat than dark meat, but either is fine to eat.
Your Personal Protein Calculator
Now I’ve given you the nuts and bolts of contest diet protein needs as well as the good and bad. Now, join over 73,000 others who are transforming their bodies. Get my FREE Contest Prep Crash Course and start changing your physique. Click the link below for instant access.
Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT
Thanks for reading over my article! I hope you found the information helpful. If you have any questions you can contact me directly using the “Contact Link” at the top of the page. I answer all emails.
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