Protein intake grams or %?


I have a question regarding diet and cycling. I have come across several sources stating that one should consume around 1.2-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight when training for cycling at a relatively serious level. However, I have also read in various places that one’s diet should ideally consist of 20% protein, with the remainder being fats and carbohydrates.

I weigh 80 kg, which would mean I should consume approximately 130 grams of protein if following the recommendation of 1.2-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, if following the recommendation that 20% of the diet should be protein, on some days, especially those with long training sessions, I would need to consume over 250 grams of protein. In total, my daily intake would be 5000 kcal, including my maintenance intake, which is almost 3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. My question is, should one follow the recommendation of 1.2-1.5 grams of protein or the recommendation that 20% of the diet should be protein?

Best regards

IMO Grams, Not Percentage.

With cyclists doing a TON of volume, you need to really, really up your carb intake, but you don’t need to ramp your protein and fat the same. You can’t store protein like you can carbs, and you don’t want to store excess fat. Percentages thus throw things off with differing volume.

I personally shoot for at least 1.5g / Kg (Edit - minimum) spread out throughout the day (For me, 125g or more). Can’t do just 100g in one serving and call it a day. This is especially important if you’re trying to lose body fat at the same time and are thus running a caloric deficit.

I believe that there’s also a recommendation per KG of lean body mass, but I go with the 1.5 / kg + because I’m pretty lean to start.


I would use that as a daily goal and if you get more from the meals after big rides then that’s good too. If you hit the daily goal I wouldn’t worry much about the rest. Most of those guidelines are for average folks and not those engaging in vigorous activity.

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This is not wrong either. A lot of the times, by trying to follow an arbitrary % target, athletes end up meeting their protein requirement by virtue of the amount of food we eat.

If you are a serious athlete aim for 2-2.5g/kg at a minimum.

Whilst science suggests endurance athletes don’t need this much, I personally aim for 2g per (target weight) kg as a minimum. I’d more often than not overshoot that by overall diet rather than design.

I aim for grams, not %. I’m vegetarian so I track this somewhat carefully, and often supplement with a whey protein shake to hit the target.

In general I think of diet as two Jekyl-and-Hyde components: I try to eat healthy whole foods for by basal requirements, and get my protein from this component. But I fuel rides with very heavy carbs, including lots of sugars that I wouldn’t eat as part of a normal diet (e.g. Haribo, drink mix etc.)

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Grams not percentage.
Percentages are great if you daily calories are consistent - once you start fueling rides and adding more calories it can really skew how much protein you would consume. I’m a believer in 2.0 grams per kilo or roughly 1.0 gram per pound of body weight.

Upper end of the protein range (in grams) on Big Days. Lower end of the protein range (in grams) - but still plenty - on all other days.

Keep fats relatively steady day-to-day.

Then shovel carbs into your gaping maw as required to achieve your daily calorie goals.

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Hey @Vibaek99 :slight_smile:

I found a few blog posts about protein intake and how to fuel while riding if you’d like to check them out!