One of the common questions from clients is how much protein per day for building muscle? The answer to how much protein per day for building muscle is dependent on a number of elements, including your weight and overall fitness goals. The important part is, protein is the essential building block of life and is a vital part of any diet. This article will look at why we need protein, where we can find high protein sources and give a few examples of how much protein per day my clients consume. We will also touch on the important part, you need carbs to build muscles as well!
Why is Protein important?
The British Nutrition Foundation explain why Protein is so important:
Proteins are fundamental structural and functional elements within every cell of the body and are involved in a wide range of metabolic interactions. All cells and tissues contain protein, therefore protein is essential for growth and repair and the maintenance of good health. Protein provides the body with approximately 10 to 15% of its dietary energy and it is the second most abundant compound in the body, following water. A large proportion of this will be muscle (43% on average) with significant proportions being present in skin (15%) and blood (16%).How much protein per day? Source: British Nutrition Foundation
So you can start to see why fitness professionals bang on about protein all the time! Consuming protein does have loads of other benefits but here are some of the main other benefits:
- Reduces appetite – A high-protein diet reduces hunger, helping you consume fewer calories. This is caused by the improved functioning of weight-regulating hormones. (Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16950139/)
- Increase fat burning. The body can require more energy to burn protein compared to fats and carbohydrates. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF).
- Helps Increase muscle mass and strength (along with an appropriate workout programme of course!)
- How do I stop late-night stacking? Increase your protein intake! Check out this study, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20847729/.
How much protein per day for building muscle?
Having reviewed numerous client food diaries, I can safely say, the number one issue is that clients struggle to hit their protein target. Each clients target is different based on their goals (fat loss, muscle gain or maintenance). The official amount guidance is as follows:
The Dietary Reference Values for protein are based on estimates of need. For adults, an average requirement of 0.6g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day is estimated. The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day in adults. This equates to approximately 56g/day and 45g/day for men and women aged 19-50 years respectively. There is an extra requirement for growth in infants and children and for pregnant and breastfeeding women.How Much Protein per day for building muscle? Source: British Nutrition Foundation
Examples of how much protein per day for building muscle
To give you an idea of what my fitness app produces when I add my own details and my clients, here are a few examples of how much protein per day for building muscle I would personally need to consume.
Client A – Aka me.
Information in: Male, Weight 100kg (220lbs), Age 34, height 6ft, body shape is ectomorph, activity level is moderate (3-5 times a week) and my calorie goal is fat loss. These parameters are needed for the formula and you can see why the results will be different for each person. This is a guide only but is my favourite calculation for giving my clients a base to work from.
Calculation method used: When I use the Addicted2Life fitness app, that uses the Miffin St Jeor formula (recommended for those between 20-60 years old) produces the following results:
Results: Calories to lose fat is calculated to be 2,607. This is broken down into grams per day for Proteins (261g), Fats (87g) and Carbohydrates (196g).
What does 261 grams of protein look like per day? This is where people struggle. A 145 gram chicken breast from a popular UK grocery store contains about 35 grams of protein. That means I would need to eat 261/35 = 7 chicken breasts a day. How much protein per day for building muscle? When I did the same stats but selected ‘put weight on’, which will be a combination of muscle and fat as it’s hard to just build just muscle on its own. How much protein per day for building muscle came out as 210 grams of protein compared to ‘losing fat’ which was 261 grams. Carbs are more important at the stage of building muscle than just consuming protein as the carbs provide the preferred fuel source for the body and it means any hard work is not eating into valuable protein supplies.
Now, lets not panic, especially any vegans reading this. Protein is in a lot of food sources which I will highlight in a minute. You should always try and add in protein to a meal where you can as it becomes harder to play catch up as the day goes on. One more example first…..
Client B – Female
Information in: Female, 73kg (161lbs), age 28, height 5ft 7, ectomorph, light exercise (1-3 times per week) and goal is fat loss.
Calcuated: Miffin St Jeor
Results: Calories to lose fat is calculated to be 1,732. This is broken down into grams per day for Proteins (173g), Fats (58g) and Carbohydrates (130g).
What does 173 grams of protein look like? Using the same chicken equation ……..173/35 = 5 chicken breasts a day.
That should hopefully give you an idea of how it changes between two people with differing clients.
Best food sources for increasing your protein intake?
So these are based on my countless reviews of client food diaries plus my own protein picks that I have daily. I personally avoid red meat as it doesn’t agree with me, so my suggestions don’t include any red meat (shock!).
- Skyr – yoghurt. If you haven’t heard of it, do it (Links to Amazon Fresh)
- Chicken Breast
- Bacon medallions
- Pork medallions
- Protein powder (MyProtein website)
- Cottage Cheese
Vegan sources of protein:
- Edamame beans
- Vegan protein powder (See below. Link goes to MyProtein Vegan Protein section).
These are just a few of the regular items that I have in my own diet and my clients have had in theirs as well. Stir frys are my favourite and a really great way to meal prep for the week ahead but also to make sure I am scheduling enough chicken/tofu and turkey into my week. With lots of Edamame beans (a good source of protein). It keeps me full for longer and tastes really nice cooked in rapeseed oil (cold-pressed oil). The protein powders seem like a common thing to recommend, but when you are faced with the equivalent of eating 7 chicken breasts a day, you can see why Protein shakes have become popular! Protein isn’t the only food we need for a healthy gut though so we always encourage balance with our client’s nutrition as carbs are just as important.
Vegan reading on how much protein per day – Check this book called Vegan Savvy through Amazon. This book was a great eye-opener for me in seeing how you can blend different vegan foods together to make up protein as good as a meat-eater. As the book suggests, you do need to be savvy with it!
What is the best protein shake? I personally use Myprotein as the Whey protein is the best in the market in my opinion and doesn’t leave me bloated!
Vegan protein powder I have never tried but from my clients who are vegan, the most popular vegan protein powder by far is the Myprotein version.
If you want to be super-efficient and find a cost-effective way of increasing your protein to the levels that you need, then you can’t look any further past Muscle Food! They prepare everything for you and it takes out all the hard work and guessing. It leaves you to simply train, eat and repeat! Clients who use Muscle Food, also maximise results. Nutrition is king when it comes to health and fitness goals.
It can be incredibly challenging to get enough protein in and it’s the number one area that my clients struggle with. Building protein into each meal, meal prepping or using meal prep services are vital in making sure you are hitting your protein daily targets.
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