The first thing to consider about switching to a high protein diet is that maybe you shouldn’t switch to a high protein diet. Protein supplements aren’t a catch-all fitness hack. They won’t melt fat off your frame. “You don’t suddenly eat protein bars and poof, it works out for you, all the sudden you have six-pack abs,” says Drew Logan, celebrity trainer and cast member on Strong. In fact, if getting leaner is your goal, “you could probably benefit from cutting back on some of the other crap you’re eating and keeping the protein the same.”
If you’re an active person who exercises their muscles at least a few times a week, eating a steady, trainer-recommended dose of protein each day is a good call. You see, protein sets off a cellular reaction that helps your muscles heal after a workout breaks them down. And a healed, healthy body is much better equipped to achieve peak performance, weight loss, and muscle growth.
In short, protein won’t do squat for you if you don’t work out.
But if you do work out, and you are interested in healthy (and bigger) muscles and less body fat, Logan has some guidelines for protein intake and which supplements to choose. (For more advice, as well as healthy, chef-created meals that don’t taste “like tree bark,” check out his new book, 25Days.) Here’s the breakdown.
How much protein to eat:
Like all things diet-related, protein intake depends on your weight, height, and fitness level. Based on average American weight and height, Logan recommends 20 grams of protein per meal for women and 30 grams for men. Snacks would be half of that: 10 grams of protein per snack for a woman, and 15 grams for a man. Of course, the more intense your fitness regime, the more protein your body needs.