Most people get enough protein in their diet without drinking protein shakes or taking expensive protein supplements. On the other hand, if you’re an endurance athlete or weight training to build muscle – you need more protein than a sedentary person whose only exercise is walking to the refrigerator to get more snacks.
The amino acids in protein are the building blocks the body needs for muscle development – and even if you lift hard you won’t get much definition if you’re protein deprived. But, how much do protein you really need for building muscle?
How Much Protein Do You Need?
A person who doesn’t exercise needs about 0.8 milligrams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. To find out exactly how much you need if you don’t exercise, divide your body weight by 2.2 and multiply by 0.8.
A person who weighs 150 pounds needs about 55 grams of protein a day. How about a person who’s lifting weights a couple of time a week for muscle development? A person who lifts weights needs around 1.5 milligrams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, that same 150-pound person needs to double his or her protein intake if they plan on doing strength training to build muscle.
Keep in mind that more isn’t necessarily better. Studies show that getting more protein than this through diet or supplements doesn’t lead to greater muscle development. So, drinking high protein shakes and munching on protein bars all day isn’t going to help you build muscle any faster. It’ll only add extra calories.
Protein Type and Timing for Building Muscle
Timing is also important. For building muscle, the greatest benefit is gained by eating protein (about thirty grams) one to three hours before a workout and having another small protein meal afterward.
The type of protein consumed is also important. There are twenty different amino acids that the body needs to build muscle. Humans are only able to make twelve of those twenty amino acids. This means the other eight have to come from diet – which makes them essential amino acids.
Most animal sources of proteins have all of the essential and nonessential amino acids, whereas plant-based protein sources are deficient in some. This means different types of plant proteins need to be combined to get the amino acids required for muscle development. Beans and brown rice is a complete source of protein, but beans or rice alone is not. Together, they’re the perfect pair.
How Much Protein for Bodybuilding?: The Bottom Line?
For building muscle, you do need more protein – but not the megadoses the bodybuilding magazines would have you believe.
It’s easy to calculate exactly how much you need. If you’re older, pregnant, or have an underlying illness, you may need a little more than the formula suggests – but it’s a good rule of thumb.
Eating a snack that has all of the necessary amino acids a few hours before and again after a workout ensures that the muscles have the building blocks needed for muscle development – and makes it more likely you’ll like what you see when you flex your bicep.