Despite what the YouTube fitness culture, bodybuilding magazines, and supplement companies tell you, building muscle is a relatively straightforward endeavor. It essentially requires three things:
● Lift heavy weights a few times per week following the principles of progressive overload
● Eat a surplus of calories
● Consume enough protein
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, it’s that third factor that sparks the most debate within the fitness culture. Doing a quick Google search for “How much protein do i need to build muscle” you’ll be inundated by recommendations ranging from 0.8 grams per pound up to (and over) 2 grams per pound!
Luckily, you no longer have to speculate and listen to bro scientists when it comes to knowing exactly how much protein you need to build muscle, thanks to the efforts of a team of researchers, including bodybuilding nutrition mastermind Alan Aragon and “The Hypertrophy Doc”, Brad Schoenfeld.
In a recent meta-analysis, collating data from 49 different studies with 1800+ participants, the all-star line up of scientists determined that the optimal intake of protein for muscle growth in resistance-trained individuals (i.e. weightlifters) is ~1.6g/kg body weight.
In the study, the team of researchers stated:
“Protein supplementation beyond total protein intakes of 1.62 g/kg/day resulted in no further RET-induced gains in FFM.”
In case you’re not metric system savvy, 1.62g/kg/day is roughly ~0.74g/lb/day, which is extremely close to the frequently recommended 0.8g/lb bodyweight per day.
What about consuming more than 0.8g/lb?
We know a lot of you enjoy eating your chicken and steak and drinking your Predator Pro whey protein. And, while you’re certainly not going to hinder your progress by consuming more than 0.74-0.8g/lb/day of protein, you’re not going to build muscle any faster or greater. So, if you enjoy eating an abundance of protein, that’s all well and good, but you could just as easily use carbohydrates to fill in your extra calories, and in the process you’ll top off muscle glycogen, increase muscle fullness, and improve performance.
1. Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 11 July 2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097608. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2017/08/08/bjsports-2017-097608