People should be eating DOUBLE the amount of protein recommended by the NHS and current guidelines are out of date, dieticians claim
- There are calls for revision of guidelines on how much protein to eat
- Protein is an important nutrient that is used in the body to build more muscle, bone and skin
- An expert says the amount of protein suggested by the NHS should be doubled
- Adults over 60 – who are prone to age-related muscle loss – may need even more
People should consume twice as much muscle-building protein as the NHS recommends, says a top dietitian.
Other experts have also declared current guidelines outdated and are pushing for revision to increase protein content.
Protein is an important nutrient that is crucial for building muscle, bone and skin. Currently, the NHS and other international health authorities recommend eating about 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day.
This works out to about 56g per day for the average man and 45g for women, the equivalent of a medium-sized chicken breast.
Experts suggest that the amount of protein people consume should be increased. Pictured are fish, red meat and chicken, all high in protein
But according to Professor Stuart Phillips, an expert in muscle growth from McMaster University in Canada, this is far from enough.
“For over 20 years I have been saying that the recommended amount of protein is not enough,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme.
Prof Phillips recommends eating a minimum of 1.2 g of protein per kg of body weight daily. That’s about 100 grams for younger men or 84 grams for younger women — the equivalent of a serving of eggs for breakfast, a serving of tuna for lunch and a chicken breast for dinner.
Adults over 60 – who are prone to age-related muscle loss – may need even more and could benefit from a protein supplement that Prof Phillips is developing.
dr. Linia Patel, of the British Dietetic Association, isn’t advocating daily doses as high as Prof. Phillips suggests, but she agrees the guidelines should be revised.
“The NHS’s recommendations are based on studies done long ago, and now we have much more accurate ways to measure and determine protein intake.”
The old nitrogen balance studies measured the amount of nitrogen in volunteers’ sweat and urine.
Nitrogen is released by the body when muscle tissue grows.
By tracking the levels of nitrogen released by the body when muscle tissue grows, scientists have calculated how much protein is needed to stimulate growth.
dr. Patel says modern techniques — in which food consumed with a radioactive dye helps monitor protein conversion in muscle — give a more accurate picture.
‘This shows that more protein is needed than originally thought to stimulate muscle growth,’ she says, adding that her patients ‘continue to get’ insufficient protein in their diets.