Whether you’re bulking up or cutting down there are several areas you’ll want to focus on. One specific area is Protein intake. I’m often asked how much protein you should eat to build muscle. The answer to that question is a little different for everyone.
Contrary to what some people might say, just because you’re trying to build muscle doesn’t mean you want to get all crazy and eat everything in sight, unless your trying to increase your body fat as well.
In this post I want to explain how to figure out the appropriate amount of protein to eat for those who are trying to build muscle and burn fat.
If you’ve picked up any bodybuilding or fitness magazine you understand the importance of making sure you’re eating enough protein. What you probably haven’t read in these ad filled magazines is that eating too much protein can cause you to store fat, increase your cholesterol level and throw your body’s PH out of whack.
Don’t get me wrong this isn’t an anti-protein / fitness industry rant. I am a firm believer in eating more protein than is recommended by the FDA, but eating anything in excess of 2 grams per pound of body weight is too much. Your body just doesn’t need that much. Not if you’re all natty anyways.
For individuals who are just starting out, eating 1 gram to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of Lean Body Mass each day should be more than enough.
If you’re a larger individual or you have a faster metabolism and require more food to grow (such is the case with a typical hard gainer) then you are looking at a protein intake of 1.5 grams to 2 grams per pound of lean body mass.
For the guys that have a hard time gaining weight or building muscle, it’s important that you continue to increase your protein and your total calories each week until you finally reach a point where your weight starts to go up.
This is usually the main reasons the hard gainer cannot put on mass. They never take the time to figure out their maintenance intake and then add calories from that point. They just assume that they are eating a ton of food because they eat everything.
It’s not enough to eat everything in site. You need to optimize your diet by eating the right amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates. You have to be diligent in weighing out your food so you know EXACTLY what you’re eating and how much.
If you haven’t done that yet then you’re not a hard gainer, you’re just lazy!
To build muscle you need to optimize your protein intake and you need to do it consistently. Evey other day isn’t good enough. Consistency is key!
So to back up off my soap box here and get back to the topic at hand, let me just reiterate my suggestion on how much protein you should eat to build muscle.
Start with 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Each week add about 25 grams of protein to your diet, until you reach my max suggestion of 2 grams per pound of lean body mass. Then if you’re still not growing you can start increasing your other macro-nutrients. (see: How Many Carbs Should You Eat To Build Muscle)
Always optimize your protein intake first!