Optimal Protein Intake for Building Muscles

November 03, 2022

No doubt, protein and muscle development go hand in hand. Protein is a macronutrient, essential for muscle tissue repair. It is loaded with amino acids - the building blocks of the muscles. 

Due to multiple sources, fitness goals, and advice, people are oftentimes confused about how much protein they actually need in order to maintain and gain muscle mass. 

Without the proper knowledge, you will be the newbie gym goer guzzling a protein shake and hoping for quick results. Well, not anymore. 

We're here to tell you exactly how much protein you need in your diet to build muscle, as well as explain how you can calculate a personalized protein intake for yourself, and the foods you can add to your diet to boost your protein intake, if necessary.

The recommended daily protein intake is 50g, but that doesn't take into account people's different characteristics. However, there are ways to calculate how much protein you need. And all you have to do is read on to find out how.

What is protein?

Before we calculate how much protein you need, let's break down what exactly protein is. Simply put, protein is a macronutrient (a nutrient we need in large amounts) made of amino acids, which are linked together in long chains. 

Some of these chains can be produced naturally by the body, known as non-essential, and some are not. The amino acids our bodies can't produce are called essential amino acids and must be obtained from food. 

When eating a steak for example, the body breaks down protein into amino acids, vital for building everything from new muscles to organs and hair.

Why is protein necessary for building muscle?

To build muscle, the body must accumulate more muscle protein than the amount it breaks down, so anyone who wants to build muscle needs to add enough protein to their diet and make sure they're doing adequate work in the weight room.

Why is protein essential for weight loss?

In addition to increasing strength, protein also plays a vital role in weight loss. Data indicates that protein consumption can increase the number of calories burned by boosting your metabolic rate and reducing appetite. What's more, a study by researchers at Maastricht University revealed that even a modest protein increase of 15% to 18% of calories reduced the regained weight by 50%.

Are you consuming enough protein?

So, the daily reference intake for protein is 50 g, while the recommended dietary allowance suggests consuming a modest 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. If you don't already know, let us be the first to tell you: that's not enough to gain muscle.

How to calculate your protein needs?

So, the best way to measure how much protein you need to consume daily is based on lean body mass - that is, everything in your body that isn't fat. This may provide a more accurate figure than focusing only on your total weight.

Of course, if you're a fitness model comfortable with four percent body fat, it obviously won't make a lot of sense whether your protein intake is measured in relation to your weight or lean body mass. 

However, for a typical person, it's a very different story. They are likely to have more body weight around the waist and a higher percentage of body fat.

Calculating your daily protein intake is quite an easy equation. All you need to do is multiply your lean body mass kg without fat by 2.2 g of protein, and you will know how much protein is recommended to add to your diet. 

For example, if your total body weight is 80 kg, and 20% of that is body fat, then your lean body mass would be around 64 kg of lean body mass. When you multiply 64 kg by 2.2 g, you will get 140.8 g of protein that you need to consume per day.

So, how much protein do you need?

Anyone who has been hardened in the gym and with several years of training behind them could, in theory, consume less protein per day. That's because the closer you are to your genetic threshold in terms of muscular growth, the slower the gains will be. And the slower your growth rate, the less protein you'll need to support that growth. 

If you're trying to build muscle, remember that 2.2g of protein for each kilogram of lean body mass is more than enough.

Final Word

Protein is the essential macronutrient that bodybuilders and gym goers need to build muscle. Whether working out every day or just going for an occasional run, your body needs protein intake to produce muscle mass. 

If your diet is plant-based and you notice protein deficiency while working out, consider adding protein supplements to your dietary regime.