We get asked this question a lot: ”How much protein do I need a day to gain muscle?”
Well, it’s actually a very good question, and it’s also a question that has a lot of different answers since people have been discussing this for years.
However, today we will show you how much protein you actually need per day to maximize your muscle gains.
In this article, we will show you the research behind it and how your body uses those proteins to gain muscle.
When reading this article we are assuming that you are here because you are looking to gain muscle mass, so keep that in mind.
Why do your muscles need protein?
Let’s first take a look at why your body and muscle need protein in the first place.
Since we have been told that protein is the building blocks and we need them in order to gain muscle, but do we really need them?
The protein we get from either food or supplements is the building block for muscle cells. They help your body repair muscle fibers and build new mass.
Without protein, your body is unable to repair your muscle accordingly and unable to build new muscle mass. Many researchers found out that supplementing protein in combination with working out results in faster recovery and improved protein synthesis(1)(2).
Protein is also necessary for preventing muscle loss while being in a caloric deficiency or in the elderly. Researchers found out that if you take more protein during caloric restriction you are more likely to burn fat instead of muscle mass(3).
Protein also has many other benefits for your body and overall health. A high protein diet is known to help boost metabolism and reduce cravings. Multiple studies showed that people who increase their protein intake lose fat at a higher pace(4).
How Much Protein A Day To Build Muscle?
So, as we discussed earlier, your body needs protein to build muscle. However, how much does your body need per day for optimal muscle gains?
A study was done on the effects of protein supplementation on resistance training adults. They found out that 1.6 grams of protein per kg body weight a day were the sweet spot. The group who took 2 grams/kg and 2.4 grams/kg didn’t show any more results in fat-free mass(5).
As you can see, the bare minimum was 0,8 grams per kg of body weight a day to improve FFM. So eating between 0,8-1,6 grams per kg body weight is a good standpoint on how much protein you need a day to gain muscle. However, 1.6 grams per kg a day seems to be the most effective amount of protein.
Below you will find a breakdown of how much protein that is for different kind of weights:
Protein per day
Another thing that has a direct effect on the amount of protein you need per meal is age. Researchers found out that older people need at least approximately 68% more protein per meal than younger adults to get the same amount of muscle protein synthesis(6).
Does it matter if you at more than 1.6 g/kg/per day?
No, it doesn’t matter in terms of getting more muscle mass. For example: If you weigh 80kg or 176lbs, you would need approximately 128 grams of protein a day for optimal muscle gains.
If, for some reason, you eat 200 grams a specific day, it doesn’t matter in terms of muscle mass, and it won’t hurt you either.
To gain muscle, you need to be in a caloric surplus. Meaning you need to eat more calories than you burn in a day. If you need quite sure about how much calories you need to eat, please use our free macro calculator.
How much protein per meal and safety
There’s lots of debate going on on the safety and effectiveness of the amount of protein you eat a day and per meal.
A study from 2016 found out that long-term protein consumption at 2 g per kg body weight is safe for healthy adults. However, they also concluded that eating more than 2 g per kg body weight per day should be avoided since you could experience digestive, renal, and vascular abnormalities(7).
Another study did a 1 year trial with a high protein diet between 2.51-3.32 grams per kg bodyweight. They concluded that there were no harmful effects of this diet, since they checked blood lipids and metabolic panel(8).
We can conclude that a high-protein diet is safe for healthy adults.
However, you would need to eat a lot of protein for each meal to crush your goal. Some researchers suggest that 20 grams of protein per meal, is perfect for maximal protein synthesis. 20 grams and above would lead to stimulated amino acid oxidation and ureagenesis(9).
A study on how much protein the body can handle each meal concluded that the average is 0,4 x kg body weight per meal. They concluded that you would need at least 1.6 grams per kg of body weight a day for optimal muscle gains(10).
As you can see, even the researchers have a different opinion on how much protein your body can handle each meal. A good standpoint would be eating between 20-40 grams of protein per meal.
What Protein Source Is best For muscle Gains
What protein source is the best in terms of muscle gains?
It’s a complication question since researchers haven’t found the optimal protein source for muscle gains. Maybe there isn’t even an optimal food since lots depend on timing, dosage, age, and exercise.
However, some studies did compare the amount of muscle protein synthesis between soy, casein, or whey protein. They concluded that whey protein has the greatest muscle protein synthesis response during exercise recovery(11).
Not every protein source is as healthy as the others. Popular protein sources mostly come from animal meat, fish, and eggs. If you need to eat lots of protein a day, it’s highly recommended supplementing your diet with a protein source like whey protein.
If you’re looking for a good protein supplement you should take a look at HUGE Whey. It contains high-quality protein powder, with 23 grams of protein per serving!
Combining whey protein with some good post-workout supplements will speed up muscle recovery a lot.
The Bottom Line
Protein is a vital part of the muscle-building process. Without it, your body is unable to repair and grow new muscle mass.
Researchers found out that eating 1.6-grams protein/ kg body weight is the optimal amount of protein to increase protein synthesis.
As long as you stay between 0.8-1.6 grams/ kg body weight you will have enough protein to gain muscle.
Supplementing your daily protein intake with something like whey protein can be very convenient.
Keep in mind that you will only gain muscles if you’re training and diet is in check. You might be interested in reading some of our other articles: