So you want to build muscle, you’ve looked online and come to the conclusion that you need more protein, and lots more of it. The problem is, the myths surrounding protein intake and muscle building could fill a 300 page text book on their own.
The good news is; the science on protein is fairly straightforward. Over the years numerous studies have been conducted and the general consensus between researchers is that if you are trying to build muscle, you need between 1.5 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day.
The camps are divided, many nutritionists prefer to go with the lower number of 1.5 grams per kilogram per day. Whilst many others prefer to, especially your local gym rat, prefer to round the number up to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This means, if you weigh 180 pounds and your goal is to build muscle, you’re being told you need somewhere between 123 grams to 180 grams of protein per day. This can leave you more than little confused.
Let’s take a look at the reasoning behind both schools of thought. The nutritionists advising to take 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight believe that since your body isn’t going to build more muscle just because you’ve eaten more protein, you’d be better off filling up your daily calorie requirement with other types of food, i.e. healthy fats and carbohydrates (don’t worry, we’ll touch on both of these in a future article). In addition, too much protein can be dangerous as studies have shown excess intake can cause stress to liver and kidney function in higher risk individuals.
On the other hand, the guys shouting out about 1 gram per gram of bodyweight simply don’t want to miss any opportunity to grow more muscle. It can be argued that during the 24 to 48 hour time period after strenuous resistance training your body will synthesize more protein than it might do under normal circumstances. Therefore you should simply eat more of it.
Which camp is right? Well, that depends, if you’re young, lean and healthy, eating more protein probably isn’t going to do you any harm, although any more than 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is quite useless.
There are other points to consider when discussing protein besides simple muscle gain. Firstly, protein is metabolically expensive for your body to process. Around 20% of each individual protein calorie is burnt in the digestive process alone. How does that compare to carbs and fats? Well, carbs burn at about 8% and fats at about 2%.
Secondly, protein makes you feel fuller faster, meaning it may help with your weight loss goals, however it should be noted that this effect does wear off as your bod gets used to higher volumes of protein in your diet.
*The views and/or opinions expressed in the blogs are not necessarily those of Training Nation, but of the author