How much protein do you need to build muscle ?

What is protein? How much protein a day do you need to build muscle? Protein is one of the essential nutrients we take in through our diets. How much protein a person should consume depends on several factors, including his age, weight and lifestyle.

What is protein ?

Proteins are the basic building blocks of our body. Muscles, ligaments, hair and skin are made of proteins. They make about 16% to 18 % of our body mass. Protein function involves more than muscle tissue repair. It includes repair of red blood cells, hair and skin, regulation of hormone secretion, maintenance of the body’s water balance, protection against disease etc.

Amino acids are the building blocks for all our proteins in the body. Proteins are built as chains of amino acids, which then fold into unique 3D shapes. There are essential and non essential amino acids. The essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body and must be supplied from the food we eat.

How much protein a day you need to build muscle?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily intake of protein is 0.4g per pound of ideal body weight. This means that a 200 pound man would have to consume about 80 grams of protein a day. The recommendation, however, is based on studies done on average, non active people. The daily recommendation for weightlifters is a lot higher than 0,4 g per pound.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends consuming 0.6-0.8g per pound of bodyweight to increase muscle mass in combination with physical activity, or when training for an intense running or cycling event.

While some nutritional experts say that 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein is optimal for building muscle, others recommend as high as 2 to 2.5 grams of protein per pound.

Most recent studies regarding the role of dietary protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training have found that beyond a daily intake of 1.6 g/kg body mass per day (up to as high as 2.2 g/kg/day in the study), the additional effects of protein are greatly diminished. This means that 1.6g of protein per KG (or 0.75g per LB) is more than enough for hypertrophy.

A good rule of a thumb is to take about 0.8g to 1g of protein per pound a day or about 30-35% of your total calorie intake for muscle building.

Foods high in protein

Even though foods such as rice, beans, broccoli and other non-animal foods contain protein, they do not contain all the essential amino acids needed for muscle repair. Good protein sources include:

Red Meat – Steaks.
Poultry – Chicken breast, ground turkey, whole chicken.
Fish – Canned tuna, salmon, herring.
Dairy – Low fat milk, cottage cheese, low fat yogurt, whey supplements.
EggsWhole eggs.
Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts.

Here is a list of the top 10 highest protein foods.

When should you consume protein ?

Research has shown that protein synthesis increases after resistance training, and stays elevated for up to 48 hours after the workout. Protein intake after exercise may have a more profound impact on muscle. A number of studies have shown that protein consumption after an intense workout will stimulate muscle protein synthesis for up to 2-3 hours.

So eating protein after a workout is crucial for building muscle mass.

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