We all know that you need to eat more protein while working out to build up your muscles. However, how much protein do you need while training? Yes, you should definitely get your share of protein. However, there is a point when too much of a good thing is no longer helpful. We are going to dive into the amount of protein you should be getting when strength training.
The Role of Protein in Muscle Building
Protein is the key building block of all of the muscles in your body. It is quite complex, being made up of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. Remarkably, protein accounts for half of your overall body weight! There have tens of thousands of different proteins but the ones you are likely most interested in are the ones in your muscles.
When your body is receiving the amount of protein it needs every day, it will result in you seeing greater muscle growth. The key to building up those muscles you desire are amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein and your muscles by proxy. Without these, you will be unable to develop, repair, and maintain your muscles!
Every time you are training at the gym, Whenever you are training, your muscles are going to have micro-tears that then need to get rebuilt through a protein known as protein synthesis. This is how muscles get developed in the first place
When you are getting high-quality protein, your body will be receiving all of the essential amino acids it craves, which are then used for protein synthesis. Your body is, unfortunately, unable to produce the nine essential amino acids, which means you need to either get them from eating protein or taking supplements. However, it is always best to receive nutrients, vitamins, and minerals directly from the food you eat.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
When you are training, you will need more protein in your diet. This is because your body requires more to repair and build your muscles. Otherwise, your body is going to start to basically eat itself, and you do not want that! The more you exercise and train, the more protein you are going to need, up to a point.
There has been quite a bit of research that looked into just how much protein do you need while training. The recommended daily amount of protein has historically been cited as a very low figure compared to what should be ingested. This is due to those figured being based on sedentary adults who are not actively working out their bodies. Less than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is simply not enough.
One major study looked at three different types of people and their protein intake.
A low-protein intake that equaled 0.9g/kg of bodyweight
A medium level of protein intake of 1.4g/kg of bodyweight
A high level of protein intake of 2.4g/kg of bodyweight
People in these groups were a combination of adults living a sedentary lifestyle and those who were regularly doing strength training. What the study found was that the groups that ingested 1.4g/kg and 2.4g/kg of body weight experienced protein synthesis and the development of their muscles. However, the group eating the most protein did not see any additional protein synthesis of the group ingesting 1.4g/kg of bodyweight.
There was another study that helped solidify the understanding of how much protein do you need while training. This study found that those who were eating more protein (2.8kg/day) who also were very intensely strength training, saw bigger gains in lean muscle mass. The study looked at the progress of these adults over a period of 40 days.
Coupled with this study was another one that specifically looked at weightlifters over 90 days. These adults were eating between 2.2g/kg per day to 3.5g/kg per day, and saw around 6% more muscle mass.
Ideally, you should be getting 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. According to Dr. Susan Kleiner, who specializes in nutrition and human performance, the ideal range is 1.6g/kg to 2.2g/kg of bodyweight. So, rounding to 1.5g-2g will be sufficient. This means if you weigh 75kg, you will want to get anywhere from 112.5 to 150 grams of protein per day. That could be a tall order if you aren’t paying attention to what you are eating!
If you think you are getting enough protein, you may be surprised at how little protein you are getting compared with what you need to build muscle. However, it is also important to understand that eating a ton of protein is not going to be good for you either. Ideally, you will be getting a balanced diet that delivers enough protein for you to build muscle, along with carbs and fat. For each gram of protein, you should also be eating 24 calories in carbs and fat.
So, how much protein should you be eating per meal? Well, ideally, you will be getting 30-40 grams of protein with every meal you are eating. This will ensure your muscles are going to get to recover as much as possible between your training sessions. You need a steady supply of protein delivered to them as they repair themselves and grow stronger. Essentially, your body will stay in an anabolic state throughout the day, every day.
As you can see, getting enough protein is vital to developing strong and lean muscles. You have probably been getting too little protein on a daily basis. However, don't overdo it! Too much protein will not provide you with any extra benefits. The key is a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and fat. Now that you know what it takes to build muscle while training, you can get to improving your diet and working on getting the body you are looking for.