How Much Protein A Day to Build Muscle ? Calculate Your Recommended Protein Intake
how Much Protein A Day to Build Muscle?
The age-old question – and one that so many people get wrong.
Depending on whether you are active or sedentary, underweight or overweight, the amount of protein your body needs for optimal health varies.
We are going to assume 2 details.
- Due to the title of this article, you are looking to increase muscle mass.
- Because you are looking to increase muscle, we also assume you are living an active lifestyle with muscle building exercises. You cannot gain muscle by simply eating more protein and living a sedentary lifestyle. The protein is to recover and build up the muscle that is broken down during exercise.
If either of these assumptions are NOT true, then your daily protein requirements are less.
As you can see in the chart above, for every 1 pound of body weight you need 1-1.5 grams of protein . But why the range? Contrary to popular belief, more doesn’t mean more muscle.
However, there is evidence that shows when in a caloric surplus, more calories from protein results in less fat gained than if those excessive calories were from carbohydrates or fats . Therefore, while working to bulk and build muscle in a caloric surplus diet, err towards the “upper end” of the range to limit fat gains.
Maximizing Muscle Protein Synthesis (How Much Per Serving)
A common myth is that eating too much protein in one sitting is wasted. This is deceiving. Yes, consuming a lot (often believed to be more than 40g) in one sitting will not have an ever increasing effect on muscle protein synthesis, BUT it does reduce body-protein breakdown, resulting in a higher net protein balance within the body.
Net protein balance plays an important role in the efficiency of building muscle and preventing muscle wasting.
According to one study , the range of effectiveness, solely in regards to muscle protein synthesis, is 0.11-0.18 g/pound of body weight /meal ( 0.4-0.55 g/kg of body weight/ meal).
The study recommends consuming this protein over 4 meals throughout the day, however, this still leaves us short of our needed 1-1.5 g/per pound of body weight (0.18*4=0.72) for active individuals looking to gain muscle.
The Influence of Age
People over the age of 50 have a higher “anabolic resistance” meaning their muscle protein synthesis is lower when consuming protein . Therefore, more protein is required for older people to maintain and/or increase muscle mass. We recommend people aged 50+ to focus on the upper end of the ranges.
Consuming more protein per sitting has not proven to negatively impact muscle proteins synthesis, so in order to both maximize muscle protein synthesis AND maximize muscle growth, individuals need to consume higher amounts of protein.
Maintaining Muscle Mass While Dieting
The majority of the fitness community agrees that in order to gain muscle, you need to be in a calorie surplus, and to lose body fat, a calorie deficit. Because of these requirements, it is commonly believed that you cannot gain muscle while losing weight. This is a topic for another article, however, for the average person and diet, we are going to stick with the traditional understanding.
For most, the goal here should be maintaining muscle mass while losing body fat through caloric deficit dieting. This is why bodybuilders are constantly alternating between bulking and cutting diets. They build muscle while consuming a calorie surplus and maintain that gained muscle while cutting fat by caloric deficit.
The required protein intake for maintaining muscle mass can be seen in the chart below.
Note – As we learned earlier, consuming higher amounts of protein does not seem to have any negative side effects, AND provides a slight boost to preventing excessive fat gain during a caloric surplus diet. So it’s probably best to aim for the “upper end” range.
Notice how the required protein amounts for those looking to burn fat at current healthy weights are the same for people looking to build muscle.
This is because the anabolic effect of a high protein diet is absolutely essential to prevent muscle loss during caloric restriction [excluding aforementioned niche diets].
Thermic Rates of Foods
The three macro nutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, all have different thermic rates.
The thermic effects of food (TEF) is the amount of energy required to to process and digest the food. It is estimated that upwards of 10% of your total daily energy expenditure is simply from digesting the food you take in.
- Carbohydrates: 5-15%
- Fats: 0-5%
- Proteins: 20-35% 
The amount of thermic activity required varies in conjunction with the amount of physical activity. 
Time to Stock Up On Protein
The soundest diets all focus around real, quality, pure protein sources. In addition to clean protein supplements, we also encourage you to eat fish, chicken, beef, and or your preferred plant based protein sources.
Whey Protein and Vegan Pea Protein are Life Savers
The most anabolic type of protein is whey protein. Other proteins are effective, but tend to have different amino acid profiles, most notably a decreased amount of leucine, the most anabolic of all amino acids.
We make both types of proteins here at transparent labs, and no, our whey protein and vegan protein are not like the others…
Check out our ultra-pure and natural grass fed whey protein isolate and concentrate here. We also have certified organic vegan protein consisting of pea and rice protein with no artificial sweeteners!
Calculate Your Recommended Protein Intake
Protein is a key nutrient for gaining muscle strength and size, losing fat, and smashing hunger. Use this calculator to find out how much protein you need to transform your body or maintain your size.
protein Intake Calculator
Protein is essential for life. It provides the building blocks for your body’s tissues, organs, hormones, and enzymes. This macronutrient is crucial for building and maintaining muscle mass. It also increases satiety, which is why it’s so important to get enough protein when you’re limiting your calories to meet a fat-loss goal.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I NEED?
The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. The daily minimum recommended by the National Institutes of Health is 0.36 grams per pound for a sedentary person. However, if you do intense workouts or have a physically demanding job, you’ll need more. While the average healthy diet provides enough protein for most people, it may benefit you to bump up your intake if you exercise to build muscle or lose fat, either from dietary protein or supplements.
If your goal is to lose weight, increasing the protein in your diet can help you lose more fat and preserve more lean mass, which explains the popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets. But it’s also important to save room in your diet for other crucial nutrients. Make sure you’re eating enough fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to keep your body energized and operating at peak performance.
The protein calculator on this page takes your body-composition goals and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Everyone is different, though, so experiment to find the right level of protein for your body. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SOURCES OF PROTEIN?
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein. There are 20 different amino acids in all, and different proteins provide different combinations of amino acids in varying ratios.
Since each high-protein food contains a different amino-acid profile, it’s important to eat a range of protein sources. In other words, don’t just eat chicken breast five times a day. Great protein sources include lean meats, cottage cheese, eggs, and fish. If you’re vegan, eat plenty of legumes, nuts, and seeds.
If you find it tough to get enough protein from dietary sources, use protein supplements to hit your numbers. Try adding flavored whey powder to oatmeal, smoothies, or muffins, or grab a protein bar for a treat. There are also many vegetable-based proteins for those who don’t consume dairy.
Since high-protein foods tend to be low in fiber, increase your fiber intake as well to keep your digestive system humming along smoothly. Green vegetables like broccoli, kale, and asparagus are high in fiber and go great with steak, chicken, or any other protein source.
DOES PROTEIN TIMING MATTER?
While it’s important to eat protein throughout the day as part of your diet, it’s especially beneficial to ingest protein before or after a strength-training session. A good hit of protein can help increase muscle size and strength when taken pre-workout, post-workout, or both.
You can use protein shakes for this purpose, or plan to eat protein-rich meals and snacks before and after working out. For example, have some Greek yogurt before your workout, and salmon with broccoli and sweet potatoes afterward. Some people find that eating right before a workout upsets their stomach, though, so experiment and see what works best for you.
To optimize recovery, it’s also a good idea to eat protein before bed. A slow-digesting protein like casein, found in dairy products and casein powder, can increase muscle-protein synthesis while you sleep, so you wake up better recovered from the previous day’s training session and ready to crush the next one.
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