Protein To Build Muscle

Introduction

Multiple factors are responsible for growing and building muscles. While exercise, a good diet, and a healthy lifestyle are important, there is one thing that stands out above all the rest. If you are wondering what it is, it’s protein.

No matter how hard you work out, it will not be enough to build muscle if your protein intake isn’t sufficient. Everyone who wants to grow and develop muscles should take enough protein daily, or they will not see any positive results.

But how much protein do you need to build muscles? If you don’t have much idea about it, there is nothing to worry about. We will provide you with an idea but before that, let us also find out more about protein,

What is Protein?

Protein is a macronutrient present in your body and also in foods. It’s called a macronutrient because your body needs it for growing and building everything from tissue to hair.

When your body receives protein, it breaks down into small compounds called amino acids. These compounds have several functions in the body. There are twenty amino acids, of which nine are essential while eleven are non-essential.

Protein To Build Muscle

The nine essential amino acids are:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

The non-essential amino are:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glutamine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

The nine on the first list are essential because your body cannot produce them. You need to take various foods and supplements to obtain these nine amino acids. However, your body can make the eleven on the second list, and you can also receive them from foods.

Your body, however, cannot store amino acids, so you have to take them continuously. Else, your body will malfunction, and it will deteriorate.

Foods Rich in Protein

The amazing fact about nature is that even if your body cannot produce nutrients, you can receive them from various foods, both plant and animal sources.

Plant-Based Protein Source: 

  • Soybean
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts
  • Chickpeas
  • Almonds
  • Quinoa
  • Spirulina
  • Mycoprotein (fungus-based)
  • Chia seeds
  • Potatoes (sweet and regular)
  • Hemp seeds
  • Beans with Rice
  • Vegetables (Broccoli, Spinach, Brussels sprouts, Artichokes, Asparagus)

Animal-Based Protein Source:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, lake trout)
  • Lean-cut beef
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Eggs
  • Milk and milk-based products like cheese and yogurt

If you don’t eat most of the foods mentioned above, you can also take protein supplements. There are many products developed by well-known brands. The following are some protein supplements that you can take daily.

  • Whey Protein Isolate
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Casein(1)
  • Soy

Protein To Build Muscle

How Much Protein Do You Need For Building Muscle?

Before jumping to the answer right away, here are few facts about protein.

Main Functions of Protein

Protein is the building block of life, and it has several functions in the body. It is responsible for

  • Building, repair, and maintenance of tissues and organs
  • Generating energy
  • Creating some hormones
  • Transporting and storing nutrients
  • Passing messages between organs, tissues, and cells
  • Providing and maintaining shape and firmness to cells and tissues
  • Boosting immune system
  • Biochemical reactions
  • Balancing fluids and maintaining proper PH

Besides the functions mentioned above, protein also benefits your body in the following ways.

  • It curbs hunger pangs and appetite
  • It helps to build and repair muscles
  • It boosts metabolism and helps burn fat faster
  • It helps you stay strong and even as you grow older
  • It doesn’t harm healthy kidneys
  • It helps lower and maintain blood pressure
  • It helps in weight loss

Are You Receiving Sufficient Protein Daily?

Many foods which you eat daily contain protein. So, you are likely consuming a certain amount. But are you getting the daily quota recommended for you?

The recommended daily intake of protein for an average person who isn’t overly physically active is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or.36 grams per pound of body weight. The experts recommend this amount per day for an average person to maintain the nitrogen balance.

Nitrogen balance refers to the condition where the amount of protein that you eat and which your body breaks down is the same. If you can receive the average daily quota of protein for the various bodily functions, it won’t be a problem.

But is the average daily quota enough to build muscles? Will taking 0.8 grams help you to gain lean or bulky muscle?

What Do Experts Say?

Many experts agree that while the daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is enough for an average person, it certainly isn’t sufficient to build muscle.

You have to take more than the recommended amount of 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight if you plan to work out extensively and build muscle.

According to many experts, top athletes consume at least 2 grams per kilo daily. They recommend that athletes should stay at that level for the first twelve weeks when starting a workout regime.

During that time, your body breaks down and creates muscle fiber allowing the body to gain muscle. You can lower the quantity from 2g to 1.2g and 1.6g per kilo after the twelve weeks.

But is that the right way to go? Read below a few more aspects to understand how much protein will be suitable for you.

Should You Calculate Your Protein Requirement Based on Total Calories or Weight?

Experts often calculate protein intake quantity based on two aspects; the amount of food you consume and your weight.

Total Calories

We will take a look at how it affects the numbers. For instance, the guideline advises 30% protein of your total calories per day. So, if your total calorie count per day is 2000, 30% protein would be 600. If your total calorie count happens to be 4000, 30% protein would be 1200, making it 150g and 300g a day.

It may work for some but not for others. So, the measuring technique is considered flawed.

Weight

So, from the above, the calculation method seems flawed. Let’s now look at what happens when your calculation relies on body weight.

If you consume 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight, you will be using an equal quantity of protein whether you consume 1500 calories or 4000 calories per day.

However, this method is also debatable, and experts have expressed some concerns regarding it. If both the amount of protein which you eat and which you use are the same, it won’t help you to gain weight.

What is The Right Way to Calculate Your Protein Requirement?

Since measuring calorie requirement using total calorie count and body weight do not seem to be correct, we have to look at a third option.

The proper method to calculate your daily protein requirement may perhaps should be based not on total body weight but lean muscle mass.

This particular technique may, however, not be applicable to already fit people who only have a few percent of fat of total body weight and already have a high percentage of lean muscle.

But if you have never been to the gym and weigh more than the normal weight, it’s another story. The technique might help to know how much protein you should eat per day for building muscle.

Let’s see how it works. For example, if a person weighing 100kg follows the 2g protein per kg body weight, the total requirement per day would be a big 200gms. So, it shows that the individual may need to eat a massive amount of protein-based food.

But since that person already weighs 100kg, it isn’t healthy and practical to eat that much protein. Besides, studies indicate that eating more than 2.2g protein per kg of lean body mass doesn’t help build muscles.

However, if you weigh 100kg and have 20% fat, you have 80kg lean body mass. You can multiply 80 by 2.2, and your daily target is 176gms per day. Suppose you weigh 100kg and have 10 percent fat; you have 90kg lean body mass. When you multiply that by 2.2, you get a target of 198gms per day.

To achieve that daily quota, add a variety of foods to your diet like eggs, milk, and steak instead of gobbling up ten chicken breasts.

To put it in simple words, if you want to build lean muscle or maintain the muscles you have, 2.2gms per kg of total lean body mass is sufficient.

You can certainly consume more, but it won’t accelerate muscle growth. Instead, it will only be a waste of time and money. If you don’t work out enough, it can even increase unwanted fats once more, leading to square one.

What to Keep in Mind?

With all being said, here are some points to remember when considering how much protein you need to build muscle.

  • Protein is a macronutrient present in everything in your body.
  • It performs multiple functions, including building and repairing muscles.
  • The daily protein requirement for the average person is 0.8g per kilo of body weight or 0.36gms per pound of body weight.
  • To build muscles, the recommended daily protein intake is 2.2gms per kg of lean body mass.
  • It doesn’t harm healthy kidneys if you take more protein, but it also doesn’t speed up muscle gain.
  • Include a variety of protein-based foods in your diet so that there is a balance.

 Bottom line

So, now you have an idea of how much protein you require daily to build muscle. You also know which foods and supplements are rich in protein. So, you can incorporate these into your diet for the best results.

It is, however, necessary to keep in mind that the muscles will not form themselves. You have to start a rigorous workout regime to grow and gain lean or bulky muscle.

It will also be a good idea to consult a physical instructor to perform your exercises safely. Regarding the diet plan, seeking professional help will be most helpful.

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I've been a bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast for over 15 years. I'm also a Karate black belt and personal trainer with a PHD in sports nutrition.