There is a lot of panic out there among the newspaper opinion columnists, and maybe no one else, that everyone is eating too much (“obscene amounts” of!) protein. I’m gonna say this once, and I’m gonna say it very loudly for the New York Times/Washington Post/The Atlantic/Chicago Tribune/Marfa Picayune-Journal/Bowling Green Ledger-Inquirer-Advocate/Springfield Shopper/Daily Planet columnists in the back so that I hopefully never, ever, ever, ever have to say it again.
As I wrote previously, eating a lot of protein (1 gram per pound of bodyweight, sometimes more, potentially slightly less if you are lucky and have blessed genetics) is necessary to achieve goals in the following scenarios:
- You are deliberately building strength or muscle (bulking or recomping)
- You’re at a higher body fat level (>30% is a decent rule of thumb), lifting weights, aiming to lose body fat, and are aiming for a higher intake because it has been shown to optimize the fat loss process
- You’re cutting, or maybe even are a bodybuilder nearing the end of a stage shred and are trying to hold on to all the muscle you can, and maybe find slightly higher protein helps with feeling fuller longer
So what if you are not those things? What if you are a normal, somewhat active person?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of 0.38g/lb bodyweight that the concern-trolling Atlantic so gravely calls “what the government recommends” is actually a nutritional floor for malnourishment. It’s the line between starvation (of adequate protein, that could lead to muscle loss) and just-barely-not-starvation.
It may be “enough” for a comatose or very sedentary person. It’s not enough for a person who wants to maintain the muscle they have and performs the actual government-recommended amount of physical activity.
The recommended protein intake for that basically-physically-active person by the American College of Sports Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Dietitians of Canada, and the International Society of Sports Nutrition[^1] is 1.2-2.0g/kg of bodyweight, or 0.54-0.9g/lb bodyweight.
My OG Megsquats wrote a clever newsletter recently noting that a lot of the confusion around this comes probably from conversions. The actual RDA is 0.8g/kg, which is 0.38g/lb. But all it takes is one person in one “how much protein do I need?” thread in one subreddit to say “0.38g/kg” before you have a veritable “how many days are in the week” bodybuilding.com debate raging without end.
Kilograms and pounds, you may have noted, are not the same thing. But if you’re reading fast, and don’t understand math or units (a frightening, and likely increasing, number of people in this country thanks to our impoverished public education system), you might see 0.38g/lb, think it’s the same as 0.38g/kg, later divide it by 2.2 because you got confused, and go oh no, we have been overeating on protein.
Which brings me to my last point: If you have ever tried to eat a lot of protein, you know that it is difficult to eat a lot of protein, period, unless you are doing something cartoonish like drinking eight scoops of protein powder every single day. Protein is the most expensive macro. If you know this, you know that when The Atlantic waves its arms about “kidney or liver damage,” it’s panicking over nothing.
This can happen with acute increases to protein, or extreme protein overdose for an extended period of time. But in active men with intakes as high as 1.27g/lb bodyweight, there were no negative effects. That number may not sound sooo different from 0.54g/lb bodyweight, but it’s more than twice as much (191 grams vs. 81 grams). I submit that even our most dedicated eaters are not eating, like, 200 grams of protein per day incidentally. That is literally a whole chicken, plus another half a chicken breast, every single day. Get out of here. In fact, I defy you, Concern Trolling Newspaper/Magazine Columnist, to find a single otherwise healthy person who was harmed by their accidental eating of too much protein.
Here’s the easy-mode version of optimal protein intake:
- Building muscle/attempting body composition manipulation, eat ~1g/lb
- Maintaining and active, 0.7g/lb
- Sedentary, 0.5g/lb
There. Simple numbers no one will die from and no columnist needs to claw their face off over. Eat protein, not too little, some (but definitely not all) of it from plants. But (sigh) that’s a topic for another day.
~Discord Pick of the Week: Japan keeps its older folks active (and socially connected!) by getting them into rugby. ~
Lindsay Gibbs at the Power Plays newsletter has a phenomenally good play-by-play of the fallout from sadsack/president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales assaulting a player for all creation to see. There were a lot of punch-pulling headlines about this, but Lindsay lays it out straight, and for that we thank her.
A whole Self package on letting trans kids play sports.
By the feminist killjoy you were always destined to be.
A new tampon design (spiral) has been approved by the FDA. I’ll be honest; I don’t think I’ve ever, uh, seen a tampon meaningfully “expand” while in use, if you get what I’m saying. So I really wonder what a different expanding design is gonna do. But hey!
The WSJ wrote about these “rate me” subreddits that flip me all the way out. It kills me that (I’m sorry, I believe that you cannot dish what you cannot take) God’s most forsaken souls, inside and out, are telling people who are almost exclusively drop-dead gorgeous women that they are, like, 5’s. 4’s, even.
I’ve spent longer than was advisable poring over the ranking criteria of one of these subreddits, and I have to say everything that happens between 5 and 10 is completely subjective, beauty-wise. None of these people have any idea of what they are talking about or how attractiveness works; it’s that old “2/10 would not bang” meme risen from its grave.
I feel very put out at the idea of anyone submitting their self-esteem to the chopping block of our worst losers. The algorithm loves these posts because they have faces in them, which makes people stop and look at them. And the more of us who stop and look, the more people it gets shown to, the more of us start to feel like a normal thing to do is to submit yourself to judgment from weird strangers with too much time on their hands; and on and on and on. Modern virality!
This piece is more interesting than the headline suggests; it’s more so about the battle between the behemoth of Walmart in its B2B transactions and small grocers that try to compete (and the legislation that could help them).
Americans gained 145,860-some lifestyle options in about 50 years. That’s too many options.
The article I want to read is “climate impacts that the assholes of BP, Exxon, et al.” did not anticipate. Vanishing groundwater in the U.S. had to be one. Feels ironic, especially since the Midwest is now routinely flooding; it’s giving “water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” I did not imagine the apocalypse would be so uncannily ripped straight from classic literature, she said, fully dissociated. I also hear reports that New York City smells extremely bad right now, and my armchair guess is all the sea creatures that are dying in the boiling Florida ocean are drifting up there in the current.
I watched Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which was recently nominated as the greatest film of all time. You can fight me, but it led me to conclude that YouTube lifestyle vloggers are onto way more than anyone is giving them credit for.
That’s all for this week! I love you for reading, thank you, let’s go—
[F1] The ISSN actually recommends 1.4g/kg as a floor, which is 0.63g/lb.