How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day For Muscle Growth?

You only have to switch on the television or one actor after another with a toned, muscular – and tanned – torso appearing on your screen. With full admiration – and, okay, green with envy – you watch. These men are the epitome of masculine beauty. Just ask your girlfriend who is sitting next to you and watching. But how did they get that body?

First, through training. Many hours of training. Second, through tremendous discipline and dedication. But if you thought these guys got their bodies by 'just' going to the gym for a few hours a week, I've got news for you: Such a body requires a whole lifestyle, not just exercising. You should also watch your diet. For example, on your protein intake. What does this look like?

Building muscle goes beyond the gym

Of course, you'll be spending a good chunk of your time between weights and gym companions if you're looking to build more muscle. But that is 'only half the work and dedication required. You spend the other half in the kitchen. It cannot be emphasized often enough, but:

"Without an appropriate diet, you won't be able to get the body you dream of, no matter how hard you try in the gym."

Your muscles consist of 25% protein, together with up to 75% water and stored glycogen (carbohydrates). People often understand that you need to consume enough protein to maintain muscle mass and growth, but eating the right amount of protein can be a challenge. There are extremely different opinions on protein consumption.

Protein For Muscle Growth

The 'myth' of protein consumption for building muscle

Did you know that there is even a true myth surrounding the consumption of proteins in order to satisfy the desire to gain more lean muscle mass? This myth has been around for centuries.

He came as many in the 6 e century BC. This was the time of Milo of Croton, a famous Greek athlete who was considered one of the strongest men in ancient Greece, winning five Olympics.

Legend has it that Milo built his muscle mass by lifting "weight" daily with a growing calf. By the time the calf was four years old, Milo handed him over the entire Olympic stadium, then killed, roasted, and ate the calf. Milo's daily meat consumption was thus estimated at 20 pounds per day.

A renewed hype

If we then make a big jump in time, to the sixties and seventies of the last century, we see a renewed hype when it comes to proteins. Protein was now seen as a kind of miracle food. This was mainly due to the print magazines, which promoted protein and claimed it could make you "get as big as a god."

And let this just be the era in which Rocky Balboa appeared on the scene. The world-famous character of Sylvester Stallone from the Rocky film series contributed to the growing popularity of egg whites - he drank it in the form of raw eggs.

The trend also became visible next to the silver screen; many bodybuilders and strength trainers started consuming large amounts of milk, meat, and eggs.

Protein powder: a miracle cure

During the 90s and even to this day, protein (another word for protein) powders are marketed as a miracle cure. Advertisements and commercials are still trying to persuade customers to buy large amounts of protein powder. Also, protein shakes have now been introduced. These would have almost the same effect as steroids.

No role for science

Myths aren't for myths: Facts actually play little to no role. Scientific research into the truth behind these myths in the field of sports nutrition is therefore not forthcoming. So it's no surprise that there is so much conflicting (miss) information out there.

On the one hand, you have the nutrition, dietetic, and medical community that blames bodybuilders, weightlifters, and strength trainers. They are responsible for creating and perpetuating the myth that strength athletes should consume more protein than the prescribed daily prescribed amount of nutrients of 0.8 kilograms of (lean) body weight.

At the same time, bodybuilders and strength trainers are accusing nutritionists, dieticians, and the medical community of spreading false information. So the question still remains: What is the optimal amount of protein that weightlifters, bodybuilders, strength trainers, and other athletes should get?

But why are proteins so important for building muscle?

You may have heard it already in primary school:

'Proteins are the building blocks of muscles.'

But how does that work anyway? The answer: In the body, the protein is a special type of molecule made up of substances known as amino acids. You can think of amino acids as the building blocks of proteins. After all, without amino acids, the body cannot produce protein molecules.

There are many types of proteins present in the body, each of which has its own function. These functions range from replicating and repairing DNA to transmitting signals to cells to forming tissue and other substances such as hair and nails, exercise, food digestion, maintaining the body's water balance, and much more.

Proteins, therefore, play a very important role in the general functioning and general health of humans. In fact, this role is much bigger than you often see in fitness shows on television. There, protein is mainly seen as a means to repair damaged muscle tissue. But nothing is less true.

In fact, proteins account for 50% of the 'dry weight' of the human body. It is estimated that there are as many as 50,000 proteins in our body. These play a very important role in the body – from blinking your eyes to regulating blood flow to muscles during extremely stressful moments, proteins are everywhere.

The role of proteins in muscle building

And then on to what you are really curious about in this article: building muscle.

Building muscle proteins (the kind of protein molecules that make muscles) requires a variety of amino acids. Some of these must be obtained from food (the so-called ''essential amino acids'').

When you eat foods that are high in protein, your body breaks down the protein molecules in the food into the amino acids that make up the food. It then uses those amino acids to build its own proteins. When you don't get enough protein per day, your body can create a lack of the amino acids it needs to build and repair muscle. This hinders muscle growth.

However, if you do (a lot of) sports, your body also needs more amino acids to repair the damaged muscle fibers and, depending on what you are doing, make them bigger. This is also the reason that athletes often follow a very high protein, in order to improve their performance.

The right amount of protein required for muscle building

Strangely enough, consuming a larger amount of protein is not associated with greater or faster muscle growth.

"You don't need to consume excessive amounts of protein to build muscle mass effectively."

To maximize muscle growth, you often have to follow a so-called high protein diet. But that doesn't mean you have to eat pounds of meat and cups of protein powder every day.

To finally give you the redeeming answer to your burning question: the recommended amount of protein that you – as a layman – should consume is around 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. I say layman on purpose because for athletes this amount is already lower – around 2.3 to 3.1 grams. So there is no standard that applies to everyone.

So the exact amount you need each day will depend on your goals, genetic makeup, and the rest of your diet.

Protein intake for maximize muscle growth

A tip: Try to aim for your target weight in terms of grams of protein. If you want to lose weight and go from 110 kilos to 80 kilos, eat 80 grams of protein per day. But if you are trying to gain weight (in muscle mass), it may be wise to consume a few extra grams of protein per day, as well as fats and carbohydrates, to increase your calorie intake.

The timing of your protein intake also plays a role.

8 ways to get enough protein

Now that you know how much protein you need to gain – and maintain – muscle mass, there remains an important question: How are you going to ensure that you get enough protein?

And also not unimportant: What are the right types of protein? There are different forms of protein, which can be distinguished on the basis of the following factors :

  • Different forms of protein are digested at different rates.
  • Some forms of protein are better utilized in the body than others.
  • Different forms of protein have different amounts of amino acids that our bodies need.

To give you a helping hand, here are 8 examples of ways you can make sure you get the recommended amount of protein – in the right form of protein! - satisfies.

1. Replace your cereal with eggs.

Many types of breakfast are low in protein, such as cereals. And while oatmeal contains more protein than most other grains, it still only provides 6 grams per serving. However, three large eggs provide a whopping 19 grams of high-quality protein. In addition, you are 'full' faster, so you eat fewer calories later in the day.

2. Have a protein shake for breakfast.

A shake or smoothie can be a good replacement for your usual breakfast - if you use the right ingredients. However, protein powders make it very easy to create a high protein shake.

Examples are whey, soy, egg, and pea powder. You can add some peanut butter, almond butter, linseed chia seeds.

Example of a whey protein shake recipe:

  • 225 grams of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop whey powder
  • 1 cup fresh berries
  • ½ cup crushed ice
  • Then put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

3. Add a high protein nutrient to every meal.

Salads are loaded with vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help protect you from disease. But they often contain very little protein. To make sure it contains enough protein, add (one of) the following nutrients :

  • Chicken or turkey breast: 30 grams of protein
  • Tuna: 26 grams of protein
  • Salmon: 25 grams of protein
  • Cheese: 22 grams of protein

4. Eat your protein first.

If you eat a meal, try out the food to food richest in protein, and certainly before starting starches. Protein makes you feel 'full' – it makes you less hungry. In addition, it can keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too much after a meal.

5. Go for Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt has a lot of versatility and is also rich in protein. 240 grams of yogurt provides about 17-20 grams of protein – depending on the brand you choose. This is twice as much as in traditional yogurt! You can eat the yogurt alone or combine it with other (healthy!) foods. Think, cut pieces of fruit.

6. Choose leaner, larger cuts of meat.

Choosing leaner meats and increasing portion sizes slightly can have a positive effect on the amount of protein in your meal. In addition, it could even contribute to a reduced calorie intake.

7. Use cheese as a snack.

Snacks are a great way to add extra protein to your diet – as long as you choose the right varieties. Many snacks are low in protein, such as chips and crackers, but they contain a lot of calories. However, 28 grams of (cheddar) cheese provides 7 grams of protein, much fewer calories, and much more calcium. It may even improve heart health.

8. Sprinkle your food with sliced ​​almonds.

If there is one type of food that you really shouldn't underestimate, it's almonds. They are rich in magnesium, fiber, and fats that are healthy for your heart, but have low indigestible carbohydrates. Almonds contain 6 grams of protein per 28-gram serving, so can increase the protein amount of a snack.

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