How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscle
How much protein do you need to build muscle? Even though I should know “the answer” having been a personal trainer myself back in the day; I still find I ask some of the same questions when I start working with a new trainer as if there’s some new magic equation that’s come about of which I’m unaware. The reality is that there is no magic number and depending on your fitness goals the recommended amounts vary greatly. However, I was just reading a study that inspired me to look at it a bit differently. When it comes to consuming protein to build muscle, it’s not about “how much” that matters, but rather “how often.”
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times… you need to consume protein to build muscle. When we consume “complete” protein from a food source or from a weightlifting supplement, we’re supplying the body with the essential amino acids necessary for growth and the production of muscle tissue. Duh. So how much protein do you need to build muscle?
I was recently reading an article in one of the fitness magazines that was debating this very topic. While I certainly am not arguing the validity of the information I read in these publications, I can’t help but notice that every article topic seems to be supported with “facts” and “experts” who are also paying top dollar for ad space in the magazine. I decided to do a little more research myself and poured over a study published in The Journal of Nutrition titled “Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24 hour Protein Synthesis in Health Adults.” (yawn.. I know)
The study concluded that eating or consuming a good high protein meal (or source) at least 3 times a day was more beneficial than eating it all at once when it comes to muscle protein synthesis (needed to build muscle).
It’s not enough to have one high protein meal a day, even if you are getting your recommended daily intake. Your body doesn’t have the ability to “store” protein like it does with carbohydrates and fats. The reason your personal trainer tells you to eat several meals throughout the day is to keep your blood sugar levels in check and to help keep your metabolism from getting sluggish. This in turn hopefully keeps your energy levels consistent. Just as important however is what those meals are. If your body composition goal is to build muscle, then your nutritional goals should be to consume protein throughout the day.