How Much Protein Do You Need to Gain Muscle?

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It’s everyone’s dream to have that perfect looking body that others will drool over. The challenge comes in achieving the perfect body shape. One of the most recommended solutions is hitting the gym and getting that killer body shape. Protein is key when looking to build muscles because it contains amino acids – building blocks for muscle growth. That said, very low intake of protein leads to muscle wasting.

Protein will pop up in your mind every time you think about your body transformation. To build muscle, lose fat or perhaps improve your looks, protein must count and how much you consume it also matters. Today we’ll focus on building muscles, and thus we’ll delve into how much protein is ideal for you.

Before determining the correct intake of protein for muscle gain, it’s important to note that several factors determine the amount of protein each person needs to gain muscle. Such factors include body mass, age and time of intake.

Calculating the ideal amount of protein to take

To understand the most reasonable amount of protein you need, it’s most ideal to calculate the amount using the lean body mass rather than the total body weight. The term lean body mass refers to the total body weight minus the fat.

Institute of Medicine suggests that protein should contribute 10-35% of our daily calories. In another study from McMaster University, 1.3 – 1.8 g per kg of body weight is enough to stimulate optimal protein synthesis. It is, however, noted that more protein might be needed in the event of frequent workouts or training.

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According to research, it’s suggested that for every kg of lean body mass, you are supposed to consume 2.2g of protein. Putting this into practice, take a case of a person weighing 100kgs with 20kgs of fat. The lean body mass of this person is 80kgs. Multiply 80kgs by 2.2 grams – you find that this person is supposed to consume 176g of protein.

Fact file

  • As you move closer to your optimal muscle growth, the rate of gaining muscle will reduce and thus a need to lower the intake of protein. Contrary to widespread belief, the intake of more protein does not translate to more muscle.
  • It is worth noting that for one to increase muscle mass, they need to live actively with muscle-building exercises besides ingesting protein. Eating protein alone doesn’t guarantee muscle gain – it has to be coupled with working out.

Table 1 Protein needs for muscle gain

Body Weight The lower end (grams) The upper end (grams)
Pounds Kilograms



100 – 150 45 – 68 100 – 150 150 – 225
175 – 200 79 – 91 175 – 200 262 – 299
Over 225 Over 102 225 – 274 337 – 412


  • In as much as consuming more protein does not guarantee increased muscle gain, it has a benefit. It reduces body-protein breakdown, which leads to a higher net protein balance inside the body. The net protein balance, in turn, increases the efficiency of building muscle while averting muscle degeneration.

Factors affecting muscle gain

  1. Age factor influences the amount of protein intake. Generally, after hitting 50 years, the body acquires a higher anabolic resistance, which translates to low muscle protein synthesis when eating protein. About the table above, individuals older than 50 years should use the upper-end figures for optimal muscle gain. To maximize muscle protein synthesis and increase muscle growth, individuals should aim at consuming higher amounts of protein across their different meals.
  2. Type of protein also matters. This is because different types of proteins are digested at different speeds, and some are better utilized than others. Besides, various forms of protein have varying amounts of the crucial amino acids needed in our bodies.
  3. To gain build muscle, you will have to do exercises such as resistance training, apart from eating protein.

Tips on how to maximize muscle gain from protein

  • In as much as protein is one of the contributors to muscle growth, it should be consumed with limits. This can be explained by the fact that there is a maximum amount of protein that your body can synthesize into new muscle. According to research, the optimal amount is roughly 1.6g per kg of body weight each day.
  • It’s worth noting that if you consume an adequate high-quality protein diet daily, there’s absolutely no need for protein supplements. A study on this topic has been conducted, and it was concluded that both normal protein sources and protein supplements have the same effects on muscle growth.
  • Furthermore, the time at which you choose to eat protein is beneficial. The reason is that the body only builds muscles for 2 hours after protein ingestion. By spreading the protein diet across the day, you are increasing the time for muscle building within the body.
  • Another way to ensure muscle gain is ensuring you have a meal with protein before and after workouts. It increases the intensity of muscle gain. It’s good to ensure you hit your daily protein target irrespective of the frequency of their intake. Likewise, have protein just before going to bed assists in muscle repair.

Sources of proteins

Since we’re talking about protein, it would be absurd if we don’t mention several sources of it. Chicken, fish, beef (lean), pork (lean), eggs, nuts, milk, beans, and cheese are just some of the protein sources which are very easy to find.

Some protein sources have more amino acids than others. Also, some sources have protein which is easily broken down and digested. E.g. Whey is absorbed at 100%, soy at 61% and fish 80%. For this reason, some protein sources are more ideal as you’ve seen.


While we’ve explored protein, the ideal amount of it and its relation to muscle gain, it is important to note that there are several other factors which determine how you build muscle. Factors such as body type, genetics, age, and gender may all influence the results of protein intake in building muscle. Lastly, you should be wary of the illusion that a high protein diet is hazardous for your kidneys. As of now, no such evidence is available unless you have prior kidney issues.

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