A question visitors ask us all of the time is “how much protein does it take to build muscle?” Unfortunately, the Internet is full of advice from people with good intentions who make recommendations based on little more than their own theories. Following this advice usually doesn’t help. You need to eat enough protein to support muscle growth and the demands of your daily life and workout routine. No more, no less.
Fortunately we do have scientific research to give us an answer. This article uses this research to tell you how much protein your body needs to build muscle and gives advice on how to get it on a daily basis without it being a hassle.
Protein Requirements To Build Muscle – The Research
Studies by renowned researcher Dr. Peter Lemon shows that your body needs more protein than the RDA recommended daily amount of .6 grams per kilogram (kg) of body weight to build muscle. His research shows that the daily amount your body needs to build muscle is about 1.7 grams/kg of your body weight. This means that if you weight 150 lbs. you’ll need to eat 116 grams of protein daily.
Don’t fall into the trap that eating more than 1.7 grams/kg of body weight will help you build muscle faster. All that’s likely to happen is that the extra protein will be used for energy or stored as body fat. A study published in Journal of Applied Physiology finds that eating 2.4 grams/kg did not help men build more muscle. You need to be lifting weights at least 3-4 days a week to really benefit from eating more protein too.
Determining Your Protein Needs For More Muscle
Figuring our how much protein you need to eat every day is pretty simple. I’ve listed the steps below with an example for you. All you need to do is plug in your body weight to get your requirement.
- Divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 to get the amount in kilograms (kg).
- Ex. A 150 lb. man
- 150/2.2 = 68 kg.
- Multiply your weight in kg. by 1.7. This is the amount of protein (in grams) you need to eat daily.
- Using our 68 kg man as an example
- 68 kg * 1.7 = 116 grams
As you gain or lose weight your needs will change. Don’t worry about recalculating for every pound you gain or lose. I recommend recalculating for every 10 lbs. your weight changes.
Getting This Extra Protein From Foods
While you may need to eat more protein than you’re used to, don’t worry it won’t be that much. All you probably need is an extra 1-2 servings of protein daily to meet your needs. The first thing you should do is calculate how much you’re eating. You can easily do this by tracking what you eat every day for 5-7 days using an online food diary like Fitday.com.
Once you know how much you’re eating you can see how much more protein your body needs. Protein rich foods you should eat to make up the difference are chicken, eggs, fish, pork, and red meat. A large egg has about 6 grams of protein. A 4 ounce serving of chicken, fish, pork, and red meat each have about 25 grams.
One really easy way to get an extra 25-50 grams into your diet every day is to drink a protein shake. Some of the shakes I like are Optimum Platinum HydroWhey and Gaspari Myofusion Probiotic protein powders. They mix easily with a spoon or in a shaker bottle, digest easily, and provide your body and muscles with high quality, muscle building protein.
So Now You Know
Just how much protein it takes to build muscle and how to get it into your diet. I also recommend checking out the articles Weight Gain Workout, Foods To Gain Weight, and Creatine – Get The Facts for more great muscle building articles.
I also recommend checking out the Fat Hackers diet and workout plan which tells you how to easily get enough protein for building muscle every day.
Lemon PW. Effects of exercise on dietary protein requirements. Int J Sport Nutr. 1998 Dec;8(4):426-47.