"Research indeed exists showing beneficial effects of protein intakes beyond 1 g/lb. It's not a vast body of literature, but it exists nonetheless. And the kicker is, these amounts (ranging from 2.3-2.7 g/kg depending on the study) were seen in both deficit & surplus conditions. Heck, even Stuart Phillips, known for being super-conservative, acknowledged the ultility of 1.8-2.7 g/kg for athletes in a deficit in a recent review paper. As a general rule, protein demands are higher for lean, trained athletes in an energy deficit."[/b]
^There's my quote, which I recently modified to include the mentioning of benefit from consuming 3.0 g/kg in this paper: Role of protein and amino acids in promoting lea... [Amino Acids. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI
Wonderpug is correct that this large amount was compared with suboptimal intake. However, I don't see the strong argument against going as high as 3.0 g/kg. If anyone wants to present one, then great; I just don't think it presents any safety risks (or other detriments) that warrant any particular caution. Additionally, 3.0 is close enough to 2.7 g/kg, which has been demonstrated to be effective (I'll get to that).
Now, Let's take a look at where I got the 2.3-2.7 kg figures.
Mettler et al (Increased protein intake reduces lean b... [Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010] - PubMed - NCBI) compared 1.0 g/kg with 2.3 g/kg in lean athletic subjects in an energy deficit, and the latter outperformed the former for guarding against LBM loss. However - and this is the big point - 2.3 g/kg was still insufficient for completely preserving LBM. Notably, the subjects trained an average of 334 minutes per week (resistance training + cardio). They lost less LBM consuming 2.3 g/kg than the group consuming 1.0g/kg. Keep in mind that it's not like the subjects were starving; they consumed slightly more than 2000 kcal throughout the trial.
Along these lines, Maestu et al (Anabolic and catabolic hormones and ener... [J Strength Cond Res. 2010] - PubMed - NCBI) saw better LBM preservation than Mettler et al did, and intakes ranged 2.3-2.6 g/kg.
Next up, we have Hoffman et al (Efficacy of phosphatidic acid ingestio... [J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012] - PubMed - NCBI), who sought to examine the effect of phosphatidic acid (PA) supplementation, but also ended up comparing different protein intakes, 2.1 g/kg in the control & 2.6 g/kg in the treatment group. The latter outperformed the former, and my hunch is that it could have been due to the higher protein intake rather than the PA specifically. It's notable that these results were seen in caloric maintenance conditions.
Willoughby et al (Effects of resistance training and protein plus ... [Amino Acids. 2007] - PubMed - NCBI) examined the effect of a protein & amino acid supplement & ended up observing the treatment group with an intake of ~2.7 g/kg outperform the control group, whose intake was ~2.2 g/kg. Notably, this occurred under caloric surplus conditions.
All research has its limitations, and the aforementioned can be criticized for having the typical shortcomings of a small subject number &/or short duration.
A paper by Phillips & Van Loon (Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements... [J Sports Sci. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI) mentions the following: "To optimize the ratio of fat-to-lean tissue mass loss during hypoenergetic periods, athletes are advised to [...] increase their protein intake to ~20–30% of their energy intake or ~1.8–2.7 g/kg/day." I'm not saying that the recommendations of some of the top protein researchers should be taken as gospel, but it's worth noting that their recommendations indeed exceed ~0.8 g/lb for certain scenarios. It's not just something I personally made up because I'm a bro who likes BBing.
I thus stand by the points I made in "The Quote" - the latest version of which I'll simply reiterate here:
[i]Research indeed exists showing beneficial effects of protein intakes beyond 1 g/lb. It's not a vast body of literature, but it exists nonetheless. And the kicker is, these amounts (ranging from 2.3-2.7 g/kg depending on the study) were seen in both deficit & surplus conditions. Heck, one of the most prolific protein researchers Stuart Phillips, known for being conservative, acknowledged the ultility of 1.8-2.7 g/kg for athletes in a deficit in a recent review paper. In a more recent paper, Phillips even pushes the upper end to 3.0 g/kg.
As a general rule, protein demands are higher for lean, trained athletes in an energy deficit. You also have to consider the limitations of the research. Just because a certain amount of protein can prevent negative nitrogen balance does not mean this is an accurate reflection of muscle preservation (let alone an indicator of optimal intake for gain). N-bal is notorious for overestimating muscle protein status. There's even research showing positive N-balance concurrent with LBM loss. Lol, there's research showing a prevention of negative N-balance during endstage starvation as a survival defense response.
Another confounder is that protein needs in the literature are expressed in terms of total body mass. This is sort of a necessary evil when discussing the literature, which does not express protein needs as g/kg LBM. So, when mentioning that protein needs are lower for eucaloric & hypercalorc conditions as opposed to hypocaloric conditions in lean/athletic subjects, this is in reference to *proportional* differences. ABSOLUTE needs can be quite similar among those with the same LBM. Also keep in mind that the optimal protein requirements of folks on ergogenic supplements like creatine (or AAS) have simply not been investigated, much less systematically investigated for the purpose of establishing dose-response relationships. There in all likelihood is a higher ceiling of protein dosing effectiveness in these individuals, as well as a lower threshold of protein dosing for muscle retention. Assuming that the effective protein dosage ceiling is the same in natties & enhanced athletes is foolish. Protein requirements for off-season & pre-contest bodybuilders (& other athletes) under varying degrees of deficit & surplus is still open to investigation, particularly in the context of rigorous, periodized training programs.
You also have to realize that the figures that get spit up in study outcomes are expressed as means (averages). This means that a mixed bag of responses occurred, some substantially higher or lower than the reported mean value. If you really want to rigidly latch on to some mean value and believe that it unquestionably applies to you, then you're making quite the leap of faith.