Consuming Enough Protein for Muscle Gain
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Despite all the questions and answers, we are still trying to find a common ground for consuming enough protein for muscle gain. But sometimes we have to look more into the nutrient than just how much is being added up from our packaging labels.
Not many take into consideration protein biological value (BV), protein per pound of body weight, or even why they need protein in the first place.
Your diet for muscle development requires a higher intake of protein than the average person. The reason is because you need to be training harder than the average person with resistance training, which tears your muscles microscopically requiring protein for recovery.
Without resistance your muscles have no reason to grow stronger and repair themselves after training.
Always remember, proper diet and exercise programs go hand-in-hand. You need both to gain muscle. Let’s proceed on and know a little more about protein that most don’t know about.
Protein and Your Body
Protein is a macronutrient that contains 4 calories per gram. Over 25% of your muscles are made of protein, the other 75% being glycogen (carbs) and water. You probably already know that protein consumption is important for muscle growth. But why exactly?
When your muscle cells become damaged from training they need new protein nutrients to come and replace/repair the old ones. From research I see that it’s still a debate whether proteins in the cells repair or become replaced, but either way the same thing happens.
The new proteins come from the foods that you consume, and when they digest properly they go into your muscle cells to start protein synthesis. Generally this takes 24-48 hours, and the final outcome are stronger and denser proteins in your muscle cells, thus making them larger in appearance over time.
Protein actually helps build stronger bones as well instead of the notion that only calcium does this for you. This nutrient is found in basically all the food you eat, but the amount and biological value determine if the protein content is even significant to note.
What is Protein Biological Value (BV)?
A higher BV of protein is good while a low is bad. The better the BV is of your protein foods means the better your body can use them for cellular repair, muscle growth, and life in general.
The ones that have higher BV’s are complete proteins while the lower ones are incomplete proteins.
What this means is complete proteins have all the essential amino acids, while the incomplete proteins are missing an essential amino such as Leucine. Many of plant sources make up incomplete proteins while animal sources are complete proteins.
But how do vegan bodybuilder’s gain muscle then? It’s because they are consuming a large combination of vegan foods that complete the protein. For example, you consume 3 different incomplete protein foods from a vegan menu. Each one has its own amino acids missing, so when consumed together they make a complete protein.
Protein for muscle gain may not be too important with this technicality for newer lifters, but once your body progresses these little factors start to matter.
The protein BV for the egg is 100% while soy beans are only rated 47%. This goes to show why you need quality protein content for muscle gains. Interesting enough, whey protein is rated up to 104% BV. Could be a pretty good reason why protein supplements do come in handy.
How Much Protein for Muscle Gain?
This is the big question we’ve all been waiting for, and the answer is – it depends on your body and training program. Surprise! All jokes aside, this really is the answer because nobody’s body is the same as the other.
One man will need 1 gram per pound while another man needs only 0.8g’s per pound. Athletes can even be up to 1.5g per pound if they are highly active and need it.
Though I can’t give you a specific number, I can at least try to narrow it down for you.
The average person is said to need 0.8 grams of protein per pound. So a 150lbs. male needs to consume 120 grams of protein daily, which is 480 calories from protein since each gram contains 4 calories.
Now, a 150lbs. male that participates in training programs needs more protein since they actually use more than the average person. The recommended amount is 1.2-1.4 grams per pound if you do more endurance training than anything else i.e. running, swimming, etc.
A weightlifter needs more protein at 1.2-1.7 grams per pound, and could require more depending on resistance training intensity. So the equation again is:
(Body Weight) x (Protein Grams Per Pound) = Daily Protein Intake
Essentially it boils down to more than 1.7 grams protein for muscle gain daily if you train significantly harder than the average gym rat. If you don’t then it’s a lower amount of protein.
The whole 1 gram per pound was a close guestimate, but now you have a more defined set of numbers to follow.
Is too much Protein Bad for the Body?
When we have too much protein in our body it decreases the absorption of calcium, which in the end could cause calcium deficiency. If you don’t know what that means simply think weaker or even fragile bones.
This is one of the reasons why bodybuilders and other athletes are somewhat precise with their nutrient intake. Surely a little extra protein isn’t going to do much harm, but LOTS of people get carried away with their protein supplements.
Add the extra protein if you need more protein calories for muscle gains, but don’t get carried away with it for extended duration.
Thoughts on Protein Supplements
Protein supplements only aid in your quest for proper nutrient intake, but should not be consumed to replace a meal more than once a day. Actual whole foods offer much more such as egg whites, yogurt, and milk because they’re high in vitamins, minerals, and BCAA’s as well.
This type of supplementation is by far the most popular just after multi-vitamins. Research shows that proper use of protein supplementation can lead to fat loss, metabolic boosts, and lean muscle gain. This is of course only possible through proper dieting, training, and the right supplement.
Some brands will cause you to have diarrhea, gas, and an upset stomach. This is usually a sign that the protein quality is low and probably meant you got some cheap no-name shit online.
Spend the extra couple of dollars and get some quality products from brands such as NutraBio, Dymatize, Optimum Nutrition, or Ronnie Coleman Signature series too. Great brands to try.
If you need help finding a good protein supplement review check out Protein Rating. This website covers the in and outs of protein supplements with useful information. In the end a supplement only helps support your diet. Don’t replace proper eating habits.
Consuming Enough Protein for Muscle Gain | Final Notes
Look over the infograph I created and try to consume foods from the list provided. I chose these foods because they are easy to fins in most grocery stores for affordable prices.
Consume foods in variations so that even low protein BV sources can be helpful for muscle gain. Protein is an essential nutrient, but it won’t make your muscles grow on their own.