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I Want To Gain Muscle – How Much Protein Must I Eat?

Building muscle and protein are two inseparable things. Protein is essential to repair muscle tissues and it’s packed with amino acids which are the basis of strength. However, since there are so many variations in advice, calculations, and sources, it can be difficult to know precisely how much protein you need to eat to gain muscle and maintain it effectively. 

The NHS says that 50g of protein is the ideal amount to consume each day. But everyone is different, so 50g may not be the ideal amount for you depending on your height and weight. Fortunately, there is a way to work out the right amount to suit your individual needs, so read on and learn more. 

Why Is Protein So Important?

Protein is made of amino acids and is one of the macronutrients that the human body needs. When we consume protein, our bodies break it down into its amino acids, and then uses them to build new muscles. 

In order to gain muscle, the body has to synthesise more protein than the amount it is breaking down, so anybody who wants to gain muscle has to ensure they’re consuming sufficient protein while also working out.

Not only is protein important when building strength, it’s also essential if you want to lose weight. Consuming protein boosts the amount of calories that you burn as it stimulates metabolic rate and reduces appetite.

Am I Consuming Enough Protein?

The RDA for protein is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight. But that isn’t sufficient to truly gain muscle effectively. An elite athlete will consume about 2 grams of protein for each kg of their body weight each day. Some nutritionists suggest consuming around this amount for the initial three months of a brand-new exercise programme before cutting back to around 1.2g-1.6g per kilogram.

Should I Calculate My Protein Intake Based On Weight Or Calories?

In general, the guidelines for how much protein to consume will usually refer to a proportion of the total number of daily calories you consume or your body weight. But there are issues with both of these proportions if you want to gain muscle quickly. 

For example, if you are eating 2000 calories per day, 30% protein will amount to 600 calories. But if you consume 4000 calories per day, 30% protein amounts to 1200 calories – a significant difference.

Therefore, calculating the amount of protein you consume relative to how much you weigh may be a better option, since it remains consistent no matter how many calories you consume, but even that comes with some problems. If you’re obese, for example, basing your protein consumption on your total body weight could leave you consuming far too much. 

The most efficient way of measuring the amount of protein you should consume each day is to base it on your lean body mass rather than your total body weight. 

What Amount Of Protein Is Right For Me?

If you want to build up your muscle and maintain the muscle that you already have while dropping fat, you need no more than 2.2 grams of protein for each kilogram of your lean body mass. Although you could eat more, it won’t make a lot, if any, difference to how quickly you build muscle, and may lead to you gaining weight.

Which Foods Should I Consume To Build Muscle?

If you need to increase the amount of protein you consume, you need to be sure that you’re eating the right foods. There are certain foods that are well-known for having a high protein content including: 

Cod – 18 grams of protein for each 100g

Chicken Breast – 33 grams of protein for each 100g

Molluscs e.g. claims – 48 grams of protein for each 100g

Whey protein – 80g – 90g of protein for each 100g

Tofu – 17 grams of protein for each 100g 

Lamb – 25 grams of protein for each 100g

Lean beef – 36 grams of protein for each 100g 

Pork Tenderloin – 23 grams of protein for each 100g

Eggs – 12.5 grams of protein for each 100g

Salmon – 24.2 grams of protein for each 100g

Grilled pork chops – 31 grams of protein for each 100g

Tuna – 23 grams of protein for each 100g

When Should I Eat Protein?

Not only do you need to know which foods to consume to maximise your protein intake, you also need to know the best times to eat them. Getting the timing right for your protein consumption is key if you want to optimise muscle gain. The human body isn’t capable of processing more than 25g-35g of protein in a single serving, so if you’re planning to each six steaks every night, you’re wasting your time and money. 

The most crucial protein hit will always be the one straight after working out. Within the half hour window immediately after your workout, you should be optimising the regeneration and repairing process and that’s when whey protein can prove to be a top choice since it can be rapidly absorbed by the body. 

It’s also a good idea to pair your protein consumption with carbohydrates. When you work out, your body will produce cortisol and adrenaline, two stress hormones, that break down sugars, fats, and proteins. While they’re running through your body, you aren’t building any muscle. If you can consume some carbohydrates, though, it will counteract the stress hormones and switch the body back to its repair mode, kickstarting muscle growth.

Am I Consuming Excessive Amounts Of Protein?

Although you certainly need to consume sufficient protein every day, there’s such a thing as too much protein in your daily diet. Eating excessive amounts of protein can actually do you harm rather than helping you achieve your fitness goals. People on an extremely high protein diet have a much greater risk of developing kidney stones, and high protein diets contains large amounts of saturated fats and red meat are also associated with an increased risk of colon cancer and heart disease.

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