If you are new to the world of muscle gain, you’ve probably read plenty about different foods you should be eating. During your research you’ve probably come across how important protein is in your diet. For many years, protein has been ingested, in high quantities, by body builders to help them gain muscle, while burning fat and keeping them lean. Protein is a staple in any person’s diet who is looking to gain muscle, but you may be confused about how much protein one needs to gain muscle, and why it is so important to your goals.
Why do you Need Protein?
Everybody needs protein in their diet. Proteins are considered building blocks. Muscle, hair, nails and your skin are all made of different types or protein. For building muscle, having enough protein in your diet is what ensures your body has what it needs to build muscle. While building muscle you’ll also need to maintain the muscle you already have. Protein is constantly used by the body to prevent muscles from breaking down during exercise. When you are not taking in enough protein, your body will rely on your protein stores to keep your body moving and pumping. When you exercise too much, with too little food in your system your body will rely on your muscles to provide the energy it needs.
Finally, when you are working out hard, one of your goals is likely to lose fat while building muscle. Protein is necessary for this, too. Protein makes your body work harder to digest the food. For example, your body will burn more calories digesting a piece of chicken, than it will digesting carbohydrates, like bread. Protein also fills you up, and will keep you feeling full and satisfied longer, which translates into eating less and, thus, losing more fat.
How Much Protein to Build Muscle?
Now that you know why you need protein in your diet, you are probably wondering how much protein is needed to build muscle. How much protein to build muscle will depend on your body and the level of activity you are currently doing. For example, the general guideline is that people require .4 grams of protein per pound of weight. That means a person weighing 150lbs would need to eat 60 grams of protein in an average day. While this is a good starting off point, experts suggest it will not help you build muscle. This guideline is based on a sedentary person.
Most nutrition experts suggest that an active person who is actively trying to gain muscle, should be eating about 1 gram of protein per pound of weight. A person who weighs 150lbs would require about 150 grams of protein to gain muscle. Individuals who are heavily involved in bodybuilding or are avid athletes, however, can eat up to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Myths about How Much Protein to Build Muscle?
While protein is an important source of energy for the body, there are some myths that surround protein intake. In fact, there is a great deal of writing out there that suggests protein is bad for the body, in large amounts. While too much protein can be problematic, too much of any food group can be problematic. You’ve probably heard some of these myths about protein and how much protein to build muscle.
- Too much protein damages the kidneys. This is not true, in fact, there is no scientific data to suggest a healthy body has been damaged by too much protein. If you have a kidney issue, or are concerned about potential damage to your kidneys, you should speak to a physician before embarking on a high protein diet, or any type of diet for that matter.
- Protein makes you gain weight. This is pure myth. When stated this is usually referencing a constant use of high calorie protein powder. Protein is actually helpful in weight loss because it keeps you full longer an will divert your attention from sweets and empty calories. Protein itself does not make you gain weight. Eating too many calories makes you gain weight, whether those calories are comprised of steamed chicken breast or Clark bars.
The Bottom Line
Protein is an important part of building muscle and losing weight. If you've made a goal of building muscle, losing weight, or simply getting healthy this year, you'll want to work more protein into your diet. Start by eating the recommended amount of .4 grams per pound of weight, and increase the amount of protein you eat slowly. You'll see a marked difference in your muscle gain as you add more protein to your diet.