DEAR DR. BLONZ: Our grandson, 24, is a college grad and personal trainer specializing in helping others build their bodies. He feels with all his workouts, he needs 200 grams of good protein per day and 1 gallon of water. This is what he tends to recommend for his clients who are also in training. I think this is excessive but wanted your opinion. -- S.G., Dallas
DEAR S.G.: Protein requirements for athletes often correlate with their body weight. You did not mention your grandson’s weight, so I will speak in generalities. The typical non-athlete might need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight. This is the equivalent of 60 grams of protein for a 165-pound individual. A recommended intake for athletes in training is between 1.2 and 2 grams per kilogram. Using this measure, a 200-pound athlete in training would be requiring 109-182 grams of protein per day. There is little evidence that higher protein intakes provide any benefit, so it is unclear what’s behind your grandson’s approach.
The other side of the matter is whether too much protein might cause problems. One issue is that excess protein is not effectively stored. Taking in more does not create more muscle. Protein that is ingested but not needed as protein gets disassembled. The nitrogen-based amino group is the first thing removed, and the remaining structure is used as calories. That means that unneeded protein and its excess calories (4 calories per gram) can become fat and may then be stored in the body. The kidneys have the task of removing excess nitrogen from the body.
Hydration is essential for this. An average non-athlete should have about a half-gallon of water a day; this can come from drinking fluids directly or be derived from fluids that are naturally present in foods. The recommendation for athletes is to divide their weight in pounds by two, and have one ounce of liquid per pound. That would translate to 100 ounces (just over three quarts) for a 200-pound athlete. I am hoping your grandson has a healthful diet, is in otherwise good health and remains well-hydrated (his gallon-a-day may be a bit excessive). His body weight and athletic practices should support his protein intake. The same should go for his clients. There is a good discussion of protein requirements for athletes at b.link/hfbvzz.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: You see all these “special” bottled waters that are ionized, sparkling, or other things, and their claims that they are better for you than plain tap water, even filtered. Am I wasting my money purchasing these products? -- P.S., via email
DEAR P.S.: If whatever the treatment the water has gone through makes it more enjoyable to drink for you, then go for it. But assuming no substances have been added, it’s all just water. If claims are being made, there will need to be objective evidence, i.e., done using scientific methods by those having no financial interest in the product.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to email@example.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.