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Protein requirements for climbing?


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210

Hey everyone,

I was listening to the TrainingBeta podcast recently, and the guest mentioned that they experienced huge gains after changing their diet, as they realized that they weren’t getting enough protein and that this was affecting their recovery.  This made me wonder how much is “enough,” specifically for climbing.  According to le Google:

“To increase muscle mass in combination with physical activity, it is recommended that a person that lifts weights regularly or is training for a running or cycling event eat a range of 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.”

https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/protein-intake-for-optimal-muscle-maintenance.pdf?sfvrsn=688d8896_2

For those of you who track and intentionally meet a particular protein goal, is this what you use, or is there a different guideline specifically for climbing?

Cory F · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25

Ha, I had the same thoughts regarding this.  In some ways, per the trainingbeta podcasts there's been different perspectives regarding nutrients and caloric intake.  It has, in some ways, made me just want to eat frozen pizza and mcdonalds (because its easier and tasty).

But from my understanding, body builders eat a lot of protein for muscle recovery.  Some seem to argues (e.g., Anderson Brothers) that you want to cut as much weight as possible; so don't run since your legs get fat.  But others argue that the increased strength is worth its weight in muscle.  I've recently read a blog post arguing that increased strength allows the muscles to work using less energy.

Anyways, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.  Thanks for posting the question.

Edit: So per your link...  I would need to consume 80-128 grams of protein!?!?  So much "Muscle Milk"

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210

Well, if it makes you feel any better, a SINGLE chipotle chicken burrito pretty much satisfies most of my protein requirement:

So getting to 80 would probably just mean 1 muscle milk on top of that, or just eating a second decent-sized high protein meal.  Of course, this assumes that you’re good once you hit that 0.5g/lb threshold, but does eating more convey additional benefits?
the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

For hard sending one should consume one blueberry with a glass of water, three times per day. The weight will shed right off, and your famished rage will fuel you to sending glory. One can supplement protein intake by adding the occasional housefly/cockroach to said blueberry if you see power waining. 

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 481

I usually try to avoid threads that may turn into shitshows, but if you want a fairly quality protein supplement that is more affordable than most, I use truenutrition.com and their custom blend generator. My wife can't do whey due to it causing bloating and nausea, so we do a 60-40 rice-pea blend as it reportedly has a similar amino acid profile

mbk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

I read an article recently advocating for 120g/day (regardless of body mass), in 6 evenly spaced meals providing 20g each.

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,506

Say your goal is 100g of protein per day.

You will be better off consuming 20g five times than if you eat a double double at In N Out in one sitting.
Edit: mbk beat me to it.

Sean Onasch · · fort collins · Joined May 2016 · Points: 195

I've been doing keto for 3 months now and my results have been pretty amazing. I weigh 148lbs and eat up to 80 grams of protein and 145 grams of fat per day. I only eat OMAD so hitting 80 grams of protein doesn't happen all that often, i'm probably closer to 50-60 grams a day. I find that I definitely don't need anymore protein than that, I recover quickly and feel stronger every week.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210
Jaren Watson wrote: Say your goal is 100g of protein per day.

You will be better off consuming 20g five times than if you eat a double double at In N Out in one sitting.
Edit: mbk beat me to it.

Why?  Mbk, could you find the article, by any chance?

Sean Onasch · · fort collins · Joined May 2016 · Points: 195
Ted Pinson wrote:

Why?  Mbk, could you find the article, by any chance?

It has to do with how much protein that you can actually absorb in one meal ( 25-35 grams). The rest of the protein some believe will convert into glucose. menshealth.com/nutrition/a1…;

zeb · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 30
Ted Pinson wrote:

Why?  Mbk, could you find the article, by any chance?

The body can only absorb so much of anything. This is a bit of a hyperbole, but It's like smearing ointment on a cut... Is globbing the whole bottle of ointment on the cut at once going to make the cut heal faster? No way!  

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5828430/
Ryan Pfleger · · North Lake Tahoe, CA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 20

The folks that mentioned 20g of protein are right on. Here is a reputable source.

But I think those protein requirements were overstated for climbers. You are trying to get strong, not bulky. And the muscles you are trying to strengthen the most are relatively small. I imagine something like 1.2g/kg would be sufficient. But it depends on what else you do with your time.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210

Cool, thanks for the replies guys.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 210

The thing about only absorbing 20g per meal is bs, your body slows down its digestion to absorb more nutrition. 

Annie W · · Boulder, CO · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0

A strength athlete trying to bulk up would want to consume ~ 1 - 1.5g protein /lb body weight. A climber who wants to maintain (or shed) weight and have good performance and recovery should consume ~ .7g protein/ lb body weight. An average non-active person probably needs ~ .5g/lb. However, the equation isn't as simple as more protein = more recovery. Your body needs about 2g carbohydrate per gram protein to process and synthesize protein for recovery. Additionally, if you aren't eating enough total calories (which is usually more than you would expect), your performance and recovery will be sub-par no matter how much protein you eat.

Nutrition is a pretty subjective subject, and unfortunately the vast majority of the research in the field has been sponsored by food companies with vested interests and is biased. A lot of it comes down to understanding a few basic sports nutrition concepts, genetics, and experimenting with what works best for you.

As a personal anecdote, I went through a long phase where I tracked and analyzed my food like an OCD crazy person. I eat about .8g protein, 2.5g carbs, and .6g fat per lb of body weight. I've been on that plan for 2+ years had have had consistent strength and climbing improvements without gaining any weight. If I have a particularly intense or long day, I add more carbs but keep protein the same.

The book Training for New Alpinism does a decent job explaining sports nutrition for climbers (although most of the information can be found in the link above for free). I have not been impressed with the nutrition section of some other climbing training books I've browsed.

To be honest, though, if your protein intake is off by +/- 25g, or you consume it all in 2 big meals rather than 6 small ones, you probably won't notice much of a difference unless you are training at an elite level.

I haven't listened to the TrainingBeta podcast, but am intrigued and will be checking it out as I nerd out over this stuff. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210

You definitely should - the host (Neeley Quinn) is a professional nutritionist who does nutritional consulting for the site.  Thanks for the insights!

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,506
that guy named seb wrote: The thing about only absorbing 20g per meal is bs, your body slows down its digestion to absorb more nutrition. 

If you’re going to counter the claims in the scientific articles shared, you’ll need more than your opinion to be persuasive.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 210
Jaren Watson wrote:

If you’re going to counter the claims in the scientific articles shared, you’ll need more than your opinion to be persuasive.

The scientific articles posted here don't say 20g per meal is all you can consume they say 20-40g for optimum intake per hour, it's not an absolute limit. legionathletics.com/how-muc…;

I really like legion athletics, they back up everything they say with studies and i personally found what they say to be useful when i went on my 3 month diet, I lost a bunch of weight and maintained muscle well. i tracked all my macros and yeah, 8kg in 3 months no muscle loss just a general lack of energy by the end of it.
Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,506
that guy named seb wrote:

The scientific articles posted here don't say 20g per meal is all you can consume they say 20-40g for optimum intake per hour, it's not an absolute limit. legionathletics.com/how-muc…;

I really like legion athletics, they back up everything they say with studies and i personally found what they say to be useful when i went on my 3 month diet, I lost a bunch of weight and maintained muscle well. i tracked all my macros and yeah, 8kg in 3 months no muscle loss just a general lack of energy by the end of it.

Thank you for providing additional information.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,510

Climber owned: ​https://mikesmixture.com/​​​

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 316
Ted Pinson wrote: You definitely should - the host (Neeley Quinn) is a professional nutritionist who does nutritional consulting for the site.  Thanks for the insights!

Anyone can call themselves a, "professional nutritionist". It's a meaningless title. Is that really what they're calling themselves?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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