Nutrition Series – Protein

A common question I get asked is how can I improve my nutrition for weight training? Nutrition is crucial, but simple.  Personally, I believe most people over complicate it. Get the basics right and you will notice a massive difference. Only then, once the basics are mastered should you be worrying about the finer details. What I usually respond is: Get your macros right, basic nutrition timing, hydration, key supplements and you are set.  

For this nutrition series I am going to discuss a topic each newsletter. This week I will focus on Protein.  Other topics include, fat and carbohydrate, caffeine, creatine and vitamin D. If you have any particular topic you want covered please email  and I will pick the most requested topic. 

  1. Macronutrients 

Okay so macros.. What do I mean by that? It’s in the name, these are nutrients we need in large amounts. This includes: Protein, fats and carbohydrates.  This week we will discuss protein.


Protein has many functions such as maintenance and growth of tissues, providing structural support, acting as enzymes, pH balance and many more. In relation to strength training, we need protein to maintain and grow muscle mass. Resistance training causes protein synthesis and protein breakdown.  In order to build muscle, we need a protein balance or excess. However, without nutrition (ie ingestion of protein) pre/post exercise we have a negative balance ie. protein synthesis is reduced/sub-optimal. Simply we need to ingest enough to maximise protein synthesis (maintain/increase muscle stores). 

There are many types of protein known as amino-acids. Some types of protein we can synthesis in our body (non-essential amino acids) and some we can’t (essential amino acids). Therefore, we need to get  essential amino acids from our diet.


But what protein is the best protein for strength training? 

If your goal is to maintain muscle/increase muscle or optimise recovery from resistance training, the most important essential amino acid is Leucine. I know.. what the heck is Leucine.. Well, leucine is an amino acid found in eggs, chicken, beef, salmon, dairy, soybeans and legumes.  Animal products are highest in leucine. It is suggested we have somewhere between 2.4 – 3.0 g per meal (a 30 g serving of whey protein typically has close to 3 g of leucine).

When do I need to have protein?

The number one thing to focus on is getting enough protein to meet you training demands. The suggested total amount of protein per day varies. However it has been consistently shown that there is no added benefit to having more than 2.5g/kg/d. In general it is suggested to have 1.8-2.2g/kg/d. That being said, timing can further optimise protein synthesis. It is suggested we aim for 0.4g/kg BW evenly throughout the day from high-protein sources. This typically is around 20-40g of protein per meal consistently throughout the day rather than having one large high protein meal. 

So to bring it all together for practical terms, you can work out your protein needs as below. 

Let’s take a 70kg person. Starting with the lower end of total protein recommendation they need 1.8g/kg/d = 126g/d.  To increase muscle synthesis (build muscle) you can increase this to max 2.5g/kg. 

Per meal we should be aiming for 0.4g/kg  = 28g per meal giving us on average 2.4g of leucine. 

Anna Hourihane

ABS Powerlifting coach

Sigma Nutrition Coach

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