That’s a great question.

I’ve talked a lot about calories and macronutrients in my videos. I think it’s important to get this across. Especially as there is a narrow view point of high fat, low carb diets at the moment.

“Keeping your caloric budget as close to your calculated range while running on a small deficit, eating adequate protein means your amazing body becomes very efficient at using these foods (fuels’), dropping body fat and maintaining lean muscle”

THE key macronutrient that will promote a leaner body composition is Protein. In-fact there are some exciting studies that show when in a large caloric surplus, athletes who ate a High Protein (HP) diet did not gain body fat. <= YEAH YOU READ THAT RIGHT.

* I think it’s important to point out here that protein is not a magical substance for large muscle gain *

Let me assure you that doesn’t happen.

Think about it. If eating a few chicken breasts, a tin of tuna, two cappuccinos and some yoghurt with your oats for breakfast were that Anabolic we would all be very HENCH!

What creates that muscle anabolism is specifics in training.

To get big requires a certain way of training in the gym and trust me, it has never included vast quantities of catabolic exercise such as swim, bike and run.

So now that I have this clear in your minds, let’s talk why HP diets could help you get the desired body composition you’re looking for and be very healthful.

* Out of all the macronutrients protein has the higher thermogenic effect of digestion. Between 20% and 30% of total protein ingested gets leached off its TOTAL caloric value.

If you eat 100g of protein…well you do the math.

* Protein is harder to eat which means increased chewing which stimulates gut hormones that tell us we are full sooner.

* HP diets have also been shown to trigger off other gut hormones that control and influence satiety factors.

* Excess protein in a HP diet is often used as material to build and refashion muscles, tendons, hair, skin, hormones, enzymes and bone rather than stored as body fat.

* Studies of HP diets in older age group athletes are starting to show it helps mitigate age related sarcopenia.

Piqued your HP interest yet??

Ok, so there are some rules to follow when it comes to HP diets. (I know rules jeese!)

First off what is a high protein diet?

2 to2.5g per KG of body weight. Any more than that and you have reached your threshold. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go over that. It just means past that threshold your body will turn any excess into other things like bone, hair, skin, DNA, enzymes and yes muscle and then maybe pee it out

It’s better from a a complete source. Animal protein, dairy and whey (Yes I know it’s a dairy by product).

Why? Because it has all the complete and non-complete protein blocks plus is high in Leucine which is CRITICAL for MPS (Muscle protein synthesis) and the key ingredient in significantly increasing mitochondrial content.

For maximum MPS 30g of protein per main meal that includes 3g of Leucine in each, spread over 4 meals has been shown to be the most potent. (Interestingly spread over 5/6 meals has been shown to be less effective and over just two or one even less)

What you need to remember is this. Total protein matters, 30g of protein in each meal that includes 3g of Leucine spread over 4 main meals matters, total calories matter.

If you’re not a meat eater or dairy lover, then you may have to supplement to ensure you hit all those targets because it’s harder to get the full broad spectrum needed from pure plant foods (Although not impossible if you’re 100% invested in your diet)

The way I see HP diets is this. (I’ll stick my head above the parapet here)

As an athlete we should all be eating as close to these guidelines as possible. This way we get the optimal amount of protein to drive recovery, build muscle machinery and assist in driving a lean body composition.

For older age group athletes, I think this is a must.

When it comes to fat loss. Yes, protein has a higher thermogenic effect of food but you shouldn’t rely on this to deliver greater lean gains. Calories are KING remember.

However, you could Hypothesise that a HP diet stands slightly taller than other diets when matched for calories.

The thing to remember is

“Keeping your caloric budget as close to your calculated range while running on a small deficit, eating adequate protein means your amazing body becomes very efficient at using these foods (fuels’), dropping body fat and maintaining lean muscle”

It’s worth thinking about.

Simon de Burgh
2 X Winner of Gym Based PT
Level 2 British Triathlon Coach
Performance & Nutrition Director

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