How Much Protein To Build Muscle
When it comes to building muscle, your gym routine is only part of the puzzle your diet, particularly your protein intake, is the other key factor.
In general, you need between 1.2 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily to encourage muscle growth.1
While specific factors can play a role in where you fall on that range, supplying your muscles with quality protein from your diet is the key to promoting muscle growth. Read on to learn about how to make the most of your protein intake.
Is 150g Of Protein Too Much
Eating more protein makes it much easier to stick to any weight loss diet be it high carb, low carb, or something in between. According to the previously mentioned studies, a protein intake of around 30% of calories may be optimal for weight loss. This amounts to 150 grams per day for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet.
How Much Protein Do You Need A Day To Build Muscle
If you want to build muscle, you’ll want to adjust your protein intake based on how much protein you were eating before and how much strength training you’re doing now, says Cesar Sauza, a registered dietitian with AltaMed Health Services.
To gain muscle, you will also need to be in a caloric surplus, meaning you consume more calories than you burn. However, this should not all come from protein.
“Increased protein is associated with increased muscle strength and mass however this is not the full story because our bodies also require carbohydrates and fats to help contribute to muscle mass,” Sauza says.
To make sure you meet your goals, consult a registered dietitian to help you draw up a meal plan with the proper balance of protein, fat, and carbs.
Also Check: Special K Protein Cereal Healthy
The Protein Needs Of Athletes
According to the Institute of Medicine, 10 35% of our daily calories should come from protein. Thats not very helpful for us, though.
10 35% is quite a range to choose from, and even if we went with 35%, if our daily calorie intake is too low, we wont get enough protein, and if its too high, well eat more than we need.
So lets look at some of the clinical research available on protein needs, and specifically with athletes.
First, lets look at research conducted by McMaster University.
According to their paper, protein intake of 1.3 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight is adequate for stimulating maximal protein synthesis. They note, however, that more protein might be needed in the case of frequent and/or high-intensity training, and in the case of dieting to lose fat .
A widely cited study conducted by The University of Western Ontario concluded the same: 1.6 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight might be enough for athletes, but higher intakes may also be warranted depending on a wide variety of factors including energy intake, carbohydrate availability, exercise intensity, duration and type, dietary protein quality, training history, gender, age, timing of nutrient intake, and more.
As you can see, the topic is actually quite complex, and there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution.
Gym lore can actually lend some insight here, and it agrees with the above findings.
What Is Whey Protein Made Of
Whey is derived from milk, which actually contains two proteins. Casein makes up approximately 80 percent in milk, and whey makes up the other 20 percent. When milk is turned into cheese, whey is separated from the solid curds and can be found in the liquid that is left behind.
Once separated, the whey goes through several more processing steps to become the product most people recognize. In this final form, it is a relatively tasteless powder that can be added to shakes, bars, or even baked goods. It’s a common ingredient in commercial smoothies, bars, cereals, and plenty of other foods, but can also be taken on its own.
Like all proteins, whey is composed of amino acids, which the body can use for growth and tissue repair. But whey’s high concentration of BCAAs, especially leucine, set it apart.
Whey is by far the most popular protein supplement because it has been shown to promote muscle growth and fat loss. It is digested and absorbed faster than other sources, in as little as 20 minutes, making it the ideal choice to consume either immediately before or after a workout.
But not all whey is equally great for you. Many are packed with sugars or other ingredients you may not want. You canât go wrong by choosing from the best whey proteins.
Want to know more? Krissy Kendall, Ph.D., shares all the science behind this staple supplement in the article “Your Expert Guide to Whey Protein.”
Recommended Reading: Nature Valley Protein Bars Bodybuilding
How Much Should I Eat Per Day To Gain Muscle Mass
If you want to gain muscle mass, you should consume at least 15 calories for each pound of body weight. In other words, if you have 200 pounds, you should aim for a daily intake of 3000 calories in order to gain muscle mass.
However, when doing the math, you should also take into consideration the calories you are burning with exercise. So, if you are burning 500 calories through exercise every day, you should also add 500 calories to your daily intake. In other words, a 200 pound man should consume about 3500 calories daily in order to gain muscle mass.
No matter simple this calculation may seem, its not as straightforward as it sounds. Namely, you cannot just gorge up 3500 calories from any food source. You should choose foods that suit your body type and your objectives. Learn more about the foods you eat at Health Trends. If you really want to gain muscle mass effectively, you should know how much protein, carbs and fats you consume in your diet.
What Is The Best Protein To Build Muscle
The best proteins to build muscle are those that contain all of the essential amino acids the building blocks for protein that the body cant make on its own which are called complete proteins.
Varying your protein sources in your diet can help assure you get a wide range of amino acids. Research shows that protein sources high in the amino acid leucine can increase muscle growth.3 Dairy foods, like whey protein, are high in leucine.
Read Also: Special K Protein Bars Healthy
Does The Source Of Your Protein Matter
Experts agree that the quality of the protein is just as important as the quantity. Protein can come from a variety of foods, including animal and plant sources, as well as supplemental sources . But Calder says the sources that are most effective for building muscle are those that contain all of the essential amino acids.
These foods are known as complete proteins, and they include:
- whey protein concentrate
Moreno adds: “Plant proteins are great for their nutrient power and do contribute amino acids to your dietbut they are not the most ideal or efficient path to muscle protein synthesis. You’d have to consume much more beans by weight than beef to get the same muscle growth.”
While Calder advises prioritizing those whole food sources of protein, she adds that high-quality supplements can be used to increase your intake when necessary. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that many commercial protein powders are chock-full of artificial sweeteners, as well as other additives and preservativesin other words, not all of them are created equal. If you like to make shakes on-the-go, or simply want a portable source to help boost your protein intake, Moreno suggests finding a grass-fed whey protein.
Also, Calder is adamant that while consuming higher amounts of protein can help, exercise also plays a key role in your muscle-building efforts.
Is 50g Of Protein Enough To Build Muscle
It is important to note that the recommended daily 0.8 g kg typically skews towards the minimum amount you should be eating. And 50 grams of protein a day might not be adequate in maintaining lean mass, building muscle, and promoting better body composition in some especially active individuals and older adults.
Recommended Reading: How Much Gold Standard Whey Protein Should I Take
Are Protein Bars Good For You
These popular bars certainly can be good for you. They can also be little better than a candy bar. It depends on the ingredients.
Food manufacturers often create products they call “protein bars,” but which don’t offer much protein, and contain plenty of ingredients you may not want. Choose bars that provide an ample amount of high-quality protein without high amounts of calories, carbohydrates, and fats to help you lose weight, build lean tissue, and control hunger. If the bar has a very poor protein-to-carb ratio, meaning there are far more carbs than protein, you may be paying premium prices for what is basically junk food.
Pick from this list of the best bars to make sure you’re not just eating candy bars in disguise. You can also make your own! By using the right ingredients, you can rest assured that the bars you eat are good for you.
How Much Protein Should I Eat
Protein is an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. Its essential for the growth and repair of all types of body tissue, including muscles, organs, and your immune system. It helps with digestion, hair and nail growth, blood clotting, and transporting nutrients and oxygen to the cells.
You May Like: Shakeology Vs Protein Shake
How Much Protein Is Really Enough
Popular belief is that in order to build muscle you must consume up to 1.0g of protein per pound of bodyweight. That might seem high to some of you, and for others it might seem too low. So, how much protein should you eat per day to build muscle? Really, it depends.
Research shows that the average trainee looking to build muscle can benefit from getting between 0.6g to 1.1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. The exact amount thats right for you will depend on your goals, genetics, and the rest of your diet, but aiming to hit between those targets should be sufficient for most people.2
For example, a relatively fit 180lb man should aim to consume between 108g and 198g of protein daily for muscle gain.2
If you are overweight and trying to reduce your body fat, I recommend that you aim to consume your target bodyweight in grams of protein. For instance, if a 225lb man wants to reduce his bodyweight to 180lbs through proper training and nutrition, he should consume a base of 180g of protein per day.4 At the same time, lowering your carbohydrate and fat intake is extremely important as well!
Protein Preserves Lean Body Mass
In addition, protein has another benefit on weight loss: it helps preserve lean body mass during periods of caloric restriction.
One study compared the effect of low protein intake to high protein intake on lean body mass over a short term caloric deficit. On average, the low protein group lost about 1.6 kilograms of muscle mass while the high protein group only lost 0.3 kg of muscle mass .
Another similar study compared 0.8 g/kg per day against 1.6 g/kg per day and 2.4 g/kg per day and found that the two higher intakes spared more lean body mass than the 0.8 g/kg per day diet. They also found that there was no real benefit to 2.4 g/kg per day over 1.6 g/kg per day .
Currently, most evidence suggests that ~1.6 grams of protein per kilogram, or .73 grams of protein per pound is a recommended daily target for protein intake to spare lean body mass loss during periods of weight loss.
Don’t Miss: Garden Of Life Vs Shakeology
Should I Use A Macro Calculator
Yes you should. As I mentioned above I got a lot out of watching my fat macros and trying to minimize them. I lost 4 lbs in a month even though I completely failed to hit my fat macro targets. There is definitely a benefit to being aware of your macros. Just dont focus on protein so much yet in the cutting stage. If you want to focus, focus on fat.
Heres a great macro calculator from Michael Matthews that I have used personally with great success. It also estimates your basal metabolic rate, which is where I would put most of my focus while cutting.
I know Michael would disagree with my stance on protein here and thats OK. It works great for him to worry about protein. It doesnt for me. I just end up eating too much and stalling out. To each their own.
Also, theres a bit of shortcut with macro calculators. I stand by them 100% to help calculate your basal metabolic rate. Thats way too much math to do on the side. But for protein, the classic advice, seems to be stick to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Thats what Arnold Swarzenneger recommended, its essentially what Michael Matthews recommended, and its a bit more than what Brad Pilon recommends but its a rough rule of thumb for what to shoot for during bulking.
Again, I have a whole article that begins to dive in to whether or not that is too much protein and could elicit increased cancer risk. But thats for a future article on the bulking phase.
The Right Macronutrient Ratios To Build Lean Muscle
Now that you know the amount of calories you need to gain lean size, your energy requirement should be divided between the three macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrates. Youre going to eat a certain amount of each, all of which have a caloric value that will add up to your surplus.
Below are the basic guidelines on how to work out your macros.
Protein: 0.8-1.1g per pound of bodyweight.
Fat: 20-30% of your overall calories.
Carbohydrates: These should make up the remainder of your calories.
Lets bring Mike back to break down these ratios further. We know he weighs 180lb and his daily calories needed to gain lean size are 2,720. So, firstly, lets work out his protein requirements:
So Mike needs 180g of protein daily.
Next, lets work out how much fat he needs to eat:
2,720 x 0.25 = 680
Be careful, because thats not 680g of fat, but 680 calories. Now take that amount and divide it by nine because thats how many calories there are per gram of fat:
680/9 = 75.5
So Mike needs to eat 75.5g of fat per day.
Don’t Miss: Protein Shake Cholesterol
So How Much Protein Do You Need
For any guy who’s cut his teeth on the gym floor and with several years of training behind them could theoretically get away with less daily protein. That’s because, the closer you are to your genetic limit in terms of muscle growth, the slower the gains will come. And the slower your rate of growth, the less protein you need to support that growth. Understood?
In short, if youre trying to gain muscle, or even if you just want to hold on to the muscle you have while you drop fat, 2.2g of protein per kg of lean body mass is plenty.
You can eat more if you like. However, bear in mind that its not going to make much difference to the speed at which you gain muscle and will make a difference not only to your bank balance, but potentially your waistline too.
Stunted Growth In Children
Protein not only helps maintain muscle and bone mass, but its also essential for body growth.
Thus, deficiency or insufficiency is especially harmful to children whose growing bodies require a steady supply.
In fact, stunting is the most common sign of childhood malnutrition. In 2013, an estimated 161 million children suffered from stunted growth (
Even marginally low protein intake may impair immune function. One small study in older women showed following a low-protein diet for nine weeks significantly reduced their immune response .
Summary: Eating too little protein may impair your bodys ability to fight infections, such as the common cold.
Read Also: Are Special K Protein Bars Good For You
How Important Is Protein For Breakfast And What Are Some Good High
There are a number of great reasons to prioritize dietary protein early in the day. For one , “Research has shown that consuming higher-protein breakfasts makes individuals feel fuller throughout the day, all while burning more fat,” explains Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., in the article “What Are the Ideal Macros for My Breakfast? “
Wilson suggests having 30-40 grams at breakfast, and prioritizing fat more than carbs with the rest of what’s on your plate. That may sound like a lot, but getting it could be as simple as having three whole eggs instead of two, a piece or two of bacon, and some yogurt with low-sugar fruit like berries on the side.
Bacon and eggs not your speed? There are a million ways to prepare a high-protein breakfast, some of which rely on the natural protein content of familiar foods, while others incorporate powders.
A great place to start for those who don’t want to slave in the kitchen at the crack of dawn is with the article “3 High-Protein Breakfasts On The Go,” by registered dietician Paul Salter, MS, RD.
These quick-and-not-very-dirty dishes all deliver a solid dose and plenty of nutrients in no time flat.