How much protein should I be eating to build and gain muscle?
Achieving your fitness goals, especially when trying to build muscle requires more than just the work you put in, in the gym. Nutrition plays a crucial role, and one key element that often takes center stage is protein. The question you may ask is how much protein should I be eating to gain muscle? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the science behind how much protein is just right for you.
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles. They are composed of amino acids and are essential for repairing and building muscle tissue, including the muscle fibers that undergo stress during resistance training. When you engage in strength training, your muscles experience microscopic damage and protein helps repair and rebuild them, making them stronger and larger over time.
This Protein Guide/Calculator identifies the optimal protein intake for muscle building. It can vary based on factors such as age, gender, weight, activity level, and overall health. However, a general guideline recommended by fitness experts and nutritionists is to eat approximately 1.6-2.4 grams of protein for every pound you weigh per day.
In addition to this general guideline, there are other factors to consider when thinking about your protein intake. For example if you are a 20-year-old female that weighs 130 pounds then you will not be able to eat the same amount of protein as a 39-year-old male that weighs 200 pounds. Please note it’s always best to consult a nutritionist before making big changes to your diet.
Muscle protein synthesis is important! While the total daily protein intake is crucial, the time protein is consumed is also just as important. Consuming protein within the post-workout window (approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours after exercising) can enhance muscle protein synthesis. This is the period when your muscles are particularly receptive to nutrients, and providing them with the necessary building blocks can promote optimal recovery and growth. Snacking between meals can be a helpful way to add extra protein and stabilize your hunger levels. But if you prefer not to eat between meals, evenly distributing protein between three meals rather than spacing it into shorter increments should not negatively impact muscle protein synthesis (Mamerow et al., 2014).
It's not just about hitting your protein target; the quality of the source also matters. Aim for lean sources of protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, and dairy products. These sources provide a complete amino acid profile ensuring your body has all the essential amino acids it needs to gain muscles.
Consider your goals and lifestyle:
While the general recommendations serve as a good starting point individual goals and requirements may require adjustments. If you are on your own journey it is best to establish your baseline with a DEXA (DXA) Scan and then consult with a nutritionist or dietitian to determine the right amount of protein and other macro and micro nutrients to help you achieve your goals.