How Much Protein To Build Muscle?

The word “protein” comes from the Greek “prōteios” which stands for “of the first quality”. In other words, protein is considered an essential macronutrient. The body uses protein as a building block for the construction of everything – from muscle to hair. 

The supplement industry has convinced most natural bodybuilders that a man can’t build muscle without large amounts of protein. However, is this really the case? How much protein do you really need to build muscle?

The required amount of protein depends on your gender, age, genetics, activity levels and daily energy expenditure. According to the Food and Nutrition Board, an average person should consume 0.32 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 150lbs, you will need 48 grams of protein a day to be considered healthy.


The rules are a little different for active people. Since athletes train hard and break down muscle tissue, they need a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you are 150lbs, that equals 150 grams of protein.

The numbers above are just a guideline.

What do you think happens if you weigh 170lbs and instead of 170 grams of protein you eat 140 grams of protein? Nothing happens. The body may be a biological machine, but it’s very hard to program precisely to the last digit. Trying to do so does not produce better results.

The 0.82 gr. per lb rule

Recently, people have been promoting a new formula – 0.82 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

According to a study performed in 2008 by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, 0.82gr. per pound is all you need to cover your protein needs.

During the research, endurance athletes were divided into two groups. One took 0.41 grams per pound of bodyweight whereas the other took double – 0.82 g/lb.

Exercises added on top of the regular work performed by the athletes achieved through an even deeper caloric deficit. The goal was to send the subjects in a catabolic state. The group taking more protein, 0.82 g/lb, had better results, and no loss of muscle mass was reported despite the rigorous training.

In conclusion

0.82 g/lb {1.8g/kg} is all you need to build and maintain muscle. If you are 150lbs, that would be 125 grams. This number may seem low compared to what you are used to seeing in the magazines, but don’t worry. If you are a natural bodybuilder, you should be fine.

References:
Pikosky MA, et al. Increased protein maintains nitrogen balance during exercise-induced energy deficit. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2008)
http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/ Retrieved on May 18, 2014/
http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Protein /Retrieved on May 18, 2014/

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