How much protein do I need? This question is on the minds of a lot of fitness enthusiasts, and the answers are often confusing. Protein is in every cell in the body. Our bodies need protein from the foods we eat to build and maintain the various tissues in our body, including muscle tissue. We get proteins in our diet from meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, nuts, and certain grains and beans. Proteins from meat and other animal products are complete proteins, meaning they supply all of the amino acids the body can’t make on its own. Most plant proteins are incomplete. You need to combine different types of plant proteins to get all of the amino acids your body needs.
It is important to get enough dietary protein. You need to eat protein every day, because your body doesn’t store it the way it stores fats or carbohydrates. How much you need depends on your age, sex, health, and level of physical activity.
Your muscles are made up mostly of water, around 70%, and about 22% protein. In order to 1. stay healthy, and 2. recover, repair and build our muscles after our strength training workouts, it is imperative that we get enough protein every day.
So how much is that? Recently, researchers Robert Morton, Chris McGlory and Stuart Phillips conducted a research review to find out how much protein was needed for optimum muscle protein synthesis to maximize resistance training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. In english, that means they figured out how much protein you need to get bigger and stronger muscles from your strength training.
Here is a breakdown of their recommendations:
1. If you are working out intensely on a regular basis, you should get about 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
So if you weigh:
120 pounds you need 87 grams of protein per day
150 pounds you need 109 grams of protein per day
180 pounds you need 130 grams of protein per day
220 pounds you need 160 grams of protein per day
260 pounds you need 189 grams of protein per day
2. Protein is best absorbed at around .4 grams per kilogram of body weight at a time, up to about 20-30 grams for maximum absorption. So based on the amounts above, we need to break up our daily intake over several meals per day.
3. Studies show that post-exercise protein supplement positively influences muscle growth, as long as you are getting the right amount of protein throughout the day.
First things first
As you should already know, the first thing you need to do to build pure muscle is stimulate an increase in muscular size and strength through hard training. Without this stimulation, it really doesn’t matter what you eat or don’t eat-you’re not going to get bigger and stronger muscles.
Once you have done that, you need to allow your body enough time to first recover from, and then overcompensate for, the effects of the workout. Proper protein intake for building muscle becomes a critical factor throughout this recovery period. So train hard, have a post-workout protein snack, and get enough protein at each meal throughout each day, and you’ll be well on your way to awesome results!