One of the most popular buzzwords when it comes to building muscle is… protein.
Protein this, protein that, protein shakes, protein bars, protein pancakes.
We get it.
So, if you want to get bigger, gain strength, or meet some other goal, what’s the answer to “how much protein to build muscle”?
Well… it depends and 12 other fitness gurus will give similar advice.
Just keep reading (or watch this video) and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Listen to the podcast player instead.
As an Athletic Dude, You Need More Protein than the Average Person
Once you decide to be obsessed with your body and build muscle, you agree that your diet choices are going to change.
That’s just how it goes.
I bought my first tub of protein… so I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious.
Just realize that tons of research is being done on how much protein to gain muscle, preserve current muscle, and increase your performance in the gym.
For example, according to the Nation Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), athletes should aim to consume at least 0.4g/1lb of bodyweight with active “muscle-builders” being much higher on the spectrum at around 0.8g/1lb of bodyweight.
Eat 0.6g-0.8g/1lb of bodyweight if you’re an athletic individual with a goal of building muscle.
I guess the question you might be asking, why is there a range?
Can’t anyone agree on what’s the “right amount”?
Here’s What 12 Different Gym Experts Will Tell You About Protein Amounts
I’ve been watching YouTube stars and other fitness personalities give their recommendations on protein for the last few years, and I they all have their own suggestions too.
What’s interesting is they’re not all quite the same… and I’ll explain why later.
If you look at this table, this is a quick run down of each of these people and their suggestions on protein intake.
|Name||Suggested Protein Intake (grams per 1lb of body weight)|
|Andy Morgan||1.1g-1.4g (cutting) 0.8g-1.0g (bulking)|
|Greg O Gallagher||0.82g|
|The Hodge Twins||~1g|
I’ll talk a little bit about each of these people and their opinions now.
First of all, Eric Helms has an incredible natural physique and he really knows his shit when it comes to bodybuilding in general.
Here’s a great video of him explaining why protein intakes are based on body weight and not your total calorie requirements. (love it)
Mike Matthews, the author of Bigger Leaner Stronger has this awesome post all about protein requirements, backed by science, and he leans on that 0.8g-1g/1lb of body weight statement for himself and his clients.
Alan Aragon is another incredibly intelligent fitness researcher that actually held a short class about protein research that you can view in the video below.
Spoiler – He presents the findings of the last few years and concludes that protein is based on a range.
Omar Isuf, a very entertaining and intelligent YouTuber, explains in this older video that 1g/1lb of body weight is a good baseline to go off, but he was eating as much as 1.3g/1lb of body weight for his own purposes.
What does Medhi, the creator of the popular strength-training program StrongLifts have to say?
However, of lot of his other diet advice would be considered “old school” and this is common among those who are focused primarily on training and less on diet.
Martin Berkhan, the founder of LeanGains began by recommending much higher protein intakes.
I can remember following his program and eating upwards of 2g/1lb of body weight.
I would not recommend it because it was so filling and gave me bad gastrointestinal problems that required me to eventually see a doctor..
However, he does recommend 1g/1lb like this article here.
Wait, the answer to “how much protein to build muscle” is in two ranges?
I’ll come back to it, I promise.
Greg O’ Gallagher, one of the hottest fitness YouTubers at the moment of writing this (cue girly scream), has lower recommendations of about 0.82g/1lb of body weight based on recent research.
Are you noticing a trend here?
I only have a couple more… I promise.
And finally… the last couple guys I’ll mention are the Hodge Twins (or Twin Muscle Workout as their also known).
These guys give a baseline of… dun dun dun… 1g/1lb of bodyweight
So, Why Do These “Experts” Recommend Slightly Different Amounts?
If you glanced at the table, or went through those videos and sources, you can see that everyone is sort of giving the same suggestions… but not exactly.
Well, there’s a reason for this.
You see, when it comes to training, most everyone (as a noob) responds to very similar muscle stimulus.
That means most training programs work for most people.
On the other hand, when it comes to your diet, we are all unique snowflakes and one recommendation may not work well for everyone.
That’s why these things exist on a range.
OK, so you might be wondering… still… how much protein do I need to build muscle?
Should I be eating more or less protein than all those guys say?
Well, let me talk to you about the variables that will affect your decision.
And let’s consider the official range 0.8g-1.3g/1lb of bodyweight that we’re going to work in that matches with the latest research and case studies.
1. Are You Trying to Gain or Lose Weight?
To put bluntly, if you’re trying to gain weight and build more muscle and turn into a mass monster, your requirements will be in the middle or on the lower end of the spectrum.
So, I’m talking 0.8g-1g/1lb of bodyweight.
The reason for this is because overall muscle growth requires more carbohydrates for you to perform well enough during your workouts to force the necessary muscle activation that will cause your body to grow.
If you take up too many of your calories with just protein and wimp out on carbs, you may not have the performance to build mass appropriately.
Now, if you’re trying to lose weight or cut, you might want to eat more protein in the 1g-1.3g/1lb of bodyweight range.
There’s actually some new research by Eric Helms that has evidence of increased muscle preservation as a result of consuming more protein on a cut than a bulk cycle.
So that’s something to think about too.
2. How Intense Are Your Workouts?
Referring back to that video from Alan Aragon, one of the slides in his presentation shows there’s evidence that protein requirements may need to increase based on the intensity of your workout.
So, think about 0.8g/1lb of bodyweight if you perform a workout that has lower volume and doesn’t leave you completely drained at the end.
For example, you might be able to get away with protein on the lower end of the range with something like Andy Morgan’s reverse pyramid training since it’s shorter and has less volume.
On the other hand, bodybuilder-oriented workouts like Jason Blaha’s 5×5 Novice Training Program has a lot of volume and focuses on size.
You might consider eating a little more protein if going this route.
These things will affect your decision when asking how much protein do I need to gain muscle, but honestly, I’m kind of splitting hairs at this point.
3. How Does Protein Make You Feel?
Now, knowing all this research and expert opinions and crap like that, you need to be honest with yourself and account for how protein makes you feel.
Not everyone loves to eat or drink protein in general.
For example, my wife doesn’t care for meat and yogurt so that limits the foods that she likes to eat.
If I were to put someone like her on a strength-training diet, I would tell her to eat less protein and adjust from there based on her progress.
Me? I could eat my body weight in protein if it were socially acceptable.
Put me in the middle or on the higher end of that range just so I get the chance to stuff more steaks down my gullet.
Plus, more protein makes you feel fuller faster.
If you’re someone with a very ravenous appetite, consider eating more protein in your calories so you fill up and don’t have to gorge.
4. Can you Afford Your Protein Requirements?
Once you really start getting into the diet aspect of all this “muscle-building stuff”, you’ll realize that protein is the most expensive macronutrient to buy.
Yea, you can go with eggs and peanut butter, but eventually you gotta get some leaner sources to fit into your diet better.
And believe me… all that lean chicken and protein isolate will empty out your wallet quickly.
So, that’s just something else to consider.
Are you willing to spend a little more money or do you want to take the thrifty approach?
Either way, having a good membership with Costco or Sam’s Club isn’t a bad idea.
How Much Protein Should I Eat to Gain Muscle – The Verdict
The bottom line is 1g/1lb of bodyweight is a good place to start.
Then, depending on your feelings, goals, and wallet, adjust your intake.
Just don’t go too much lower than 0.6g or much higher than 2g so you’re not stunting your progress or pissing away your food.
I hope this gave you some insight on protein and how much you should be eating to meet your goals.
To your gains,
P.S. Everyone has a pretty similar opinion on protein if they’re keeping up with their research.
Overall, don’t sweat it or be really anal about it.
If you want to cut the crap and really get to how much protein to build muscle at its core…
Aim for 1g/1lb of bodyweight with a slight variation based on your goals and you’ll be fine.