Extra protein in the diet has several important advantages for those who want to improve their body composition. It has long been known that protein requirements increase during exercise, due to increased degradation of muscle protein. Now new research suggests that even higher protein intake accelerates the results of your efforts.
The study tested a higher protein intake (over 3 grams per kg of body weight) than similar previous studies
Participants who took more protein increased in the muscles, but declined in the fat percentage
We already know that protein requirements increase when training, from about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day to about 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, due to increased wear and tear on the muscles with increased protein degradation as a result. It is also known that increasing protein intake has positive effects on satiety, immunity and energy. In October 2015 came to a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition to suggest that an even higher protein intake than previously known to improve body composition further.
The study took two groups of well-trained men and women, a total of 48 people, through eight weeks of heavy weight training program designed to
increase strength and muscle mass. Both groups had a high protein intake during the study, one about 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, the other an average of 3.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. The test subjects had free access to protein powder during the study, to manage to take in as much protein as the study claimed.
Both groups showed a statistically significant increase in performance in the squat, bench press, chin and vertical mounting behaviour after eight weeks of training.
The group with the higher protein intake had a significantly higher energy intake during the test period, there was no difference between the groups in the intake of fat and carbohydrates. The increased intake responded thus to the higher protein intake.
Both groups increased their lean body mass (muscle) with about 1.5 kg during the study. The group with lower protein intake went up, however, in a similar way in body weight, while the group with higher protein intake went down in weight, fat mass, and percent body fat during the study.
The results support that a higher protein intake is advantageous for improved body composition and that it is unlikely that a high intake of protein would lead to weight gain and increase in body fat.
No metabolic readings would indicate adverse effects from the higher protein intake was measured in the study.
Two factors probably concealed an even greater positive effect of the higher protein intake in the study. The persons in the group with lower protein intake increased their protein intake slightly during the study, even though they are instructed to maintain their usual level (2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day). The group with higher protein intakes had longer training experience and better performance in strength training exercises at the start of the study, which is supposed to make further improvements in body composition more difficult to achieve.
The research team concluded that where previously stated 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day as a high protein intake for exercising humans, these results suggest that 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day should rather be considered as a minimum.