How Much Protein Do You Need to Build Muscle?

Customise Your Protein Intake

Protein is being sold by the bucket load to guys the world over who see it as the vital ingredient in their muscle building program. Many of them operate on the more is better mentality. Yet, just how much protein does the body really need to build muscle? And is there a problem with piling too much protein into your system? The answer to these questions are key to the success or failure of your muscle building efforts.

Protein really is the key to building muscle. Simply put, the more quality protein that you take into your body, provided that you are training hard and heavy, the more muscle you will build.


Customizing Your Protein Requirement

People who work out need more protein than those who are sedentary. Most estimates put the daily requirement for a gym goer who is trying to gain muscle at between 0.65 and 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This equates to 1.4 to 2.0 pounds per kg of bodyweight. So, a guy who is 200 pounds should be consuming between 130 and 200 grams of protein per day. We suggest shooting for 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. That is quite a challenging target to achieve. Many people will not reach it in the course of a day. But if you aim for it, you will likely get to some where around 0.7-0.8, which is a perfectly adequate amount.

When we talk about protein, we are including protein supplements such as bars and powders as well as whole food protein. Take your 3 main meals in the form of whole foods. Concentrate on such protein rich staples as eggs, red meat, chicken, and fish. Whatever else you need to hit your protein target for the day can be in the form of supplements, such as protein drinks and bars. So, if your aiming for 175grams of protein and have consumed 125 grams in the form of whole foods, you’ll want another 50 or so grams from supplements.


Timing

Just as important as how much protein it take is when to take it. When you wake up in the morning, it is critical that you get some quality protein into your muscle cells as soon as possible. When you’ve been sleeping for eight or nine hours, you are essentially fasting. When you wake up, your muscles are starving. They are crying out for protein and are getting close to a catabolic state. That is the time to feed them with protein. Eggs are a great protein source first thing in the morning.

The second most important time to take your protein is directly after your workout. When you are working out, you are breaking down the muscle cell. That process is only reversed when you feed protein into the cell. You have got to get those amino acids directly into the cell right after your workout with fast acting whey protein. A protein shake pre workout can also ensure your muscles have the fuel to go through the workout.

The third most important time of the day to take protein into your system is right before you go to bed. That is the time that you need a slow digesting protein like casein. Casein will release protein into your system over the entire period that you will be sleeping. This will keep you in an anabolic state even when you’re dreaming of lifting!.


Are High Protein Diets Dangerous?

The belief that a diet that is too protein heavy will lead to major health issues has been perpetuated by the media for decades. Usually, they quote potential side effects such as kidney damage, liver degeneration, and dehydration. The truth, however, is that there is not a single study that makes a direct correlation between a high protein diet and detrimental health effects in otherwise healthy individuals. On the contrary, there are, in fact, a number of studies that show the very opposite.

A study out of the University of Brussels involved body builders who consumed 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. The study results showed that there were no toxic effects at all from this high protein regimen. There was also no adverse effect to the kidneys. Rather than impairing calcium absorption, it was seen that even higher amounts of calcium were absorbed on a high protein diet.

As a result of studies like the one just mentioned there is no reason to deviate from a high protein intake of between 0.6 and 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Consuming an adequate amount of protein every day is vital to:

  • Muscle gain
  • Improving cholesterol profile
  • Controlling appetite
  • Preserving muscle
  • Thermogenesis
  • Fat Loss

 

Author: Steve Theunissen
Author Bio: Steve Theunissen is the Nutrition Souq Bodybuilding and Workouts Editor. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer. Steve is the author of 5 hard copy books and dozens of e-books on the subject of fitness, bodybuilding and weight loss.