How Much Protein to Build Muscle? More Than You Think!
One of the most popular questions in the bodybuilding and fitness world is “how much protein to build muscle.” Opinions vary wildly on this subject, and frankly, I think the average person’s answer is wrong! The USDA food pyramid and supposed “daily values” are responsible for some serious misconceptions about proper nutrition, and these misconceptions affect weight trainees and hard-training athletes more than anyone else. Read on to find out why you really need a lot more protein than most nutritionists, doctors, and even other athletes will claim.
Most people recognize that protein is important for building muscle and recovering from weight training, but do you really understand how it works in your body? Even most bodybuilders have no clue! When you eat protein, your body can do one of two things with it. One option is to convert it to cellular energy. This rarely happens, as it is far, far more difficult for your body to use protein as energy than it is to use carbs or fats. This is also why it is hard to get fat when eating primarily protein. Your body can’t convert it to body fat if it doesn’t first convert it to energy!
The other path your body can take with protein is to break it down into amino acids, which are then used to rebuild muscle tissue. Think of these amino acids as building blocks. When you eat meat (animal muscle), eggs, dairy, or any other protein-packed food, your body breaks those proteins down into their respective building blocks. It then uses those blocks (amino acids) to build its OWN proteins in muscle tissue.
If you understand this basic function of protein, then you can understand why it’s important for bodybuilders and other weight trainees to get LOTS of it. If you’re constantly breaking down your muscles with hard training, you need a large supply of building blocks (amino acids in protein) to recover and build them back up bigger and stronger!
The Ideal Amount – How Much Protein To Build Muscle?
You’re probably still wondering exactly how much protein is necessary to build muscle. My personal experience is that you need at least one gram of protein per pound of your own bodyweight per day to get optimal results. This means that a 200 pound man trying to build muscle needs 200 grams of protein per day. This may sound like a lot, but the people that typically make nutritional recommendations are not tailoring their advice to bodybuilders!
The best foods for getting all of this protein are animal products. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and perhaps some dairy are the best sources. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you can also use soy, rice, beans, and other plant-based proteins, but you’re going to have to be a lot more vigilant with your eating to get to the “one gram per pound” mark we just discussed.
Having to eat all of this protein is also why many bodybuilders choose to eat six meals per day instead of the normal three. It’s just too difficult and filling to get all of that protein down in three sittings. However, if you’re able to do so, and if eating that frequently is way too inconvenient, that’s really fine, too. Contrary to popular opinion, you’re not going to get fat splitting your daily food into three meals instead of six as long as you’re training hard and putting the extra nutrients to good use.
How Much is Too Much?
If you’re really hardcore about your nutrition and muscle building results, you might be thinking more is better, and that you might as well eat as much protein as you can get your hands on if it’s so important. While this is probably not going to harm your body in any significant way, it will be extremely wasteful. Your body can only build so much muscle tissue per day, and once it has done so, eating more protein is not going to help.
Think back to the building blocks analogy. If you’re building a house, and you give your builders a million bricks, they’re still only going to be able to do a certain amount of work before they get tired and have to come back the next day. In this case, your body works essentially the same way. Protein-packed foods are expensive, so once you’re getting one gram per pound of bodyweight, spend the extra on carbs, fats, and maybe some supplements.
Natural muscle building foods and intense workouts are essential for maximum gains in a short amount of time.
Justin Woltering is a fitness model, personal trainer, and author of Bigger Better Faster Now. With 5 certifications and world recognition, Justin is helping skinny guys everywhere to achieve massive gains. To learn more bodybuilding tips and nutrition advice, visit Justin’s Member’s Only Section here: