If you are getting advice from Muscle Magazines then it’s very likely they are over-estimating your protein needs. There are two reasons for this: 1) the advice is from bodybuilders who take steroids and can therefore utilise more protein, or 2) the article is trying to sell you a protein powder.
At the other end of the scale are the Government Guidelines. They usually under-estimate protein needs and quote an intake that most strength athletes have surpassed by mid-morning. While it’s hard to get an exact number, here are a few things to consider.
How Much Protein Do I Need To Gain Muscle?
The first factor to assess is your body-weight. Specifically, your Lean Body Mass (how much your body would weigh without fat).
If two people have the same muscle mass, but one guy weighs an extra 10kg from his beer belly, does it make sense that his muscles need more protein to grow? It does not.
Check out the pictures below, and multiply your body-weight by the number displayed to get your Lean Body Mass.
The next thing to consider is what kind of exercise you do.
If you are inactive your body needs around 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kg of Lean Body Mass.
If you are an endurance athlete your body needs around 1.4 to 1.7 grams per kg of Lean Body Mass.
If you are a strength athlete your body needs around 1.7 to 2 grams per kg of Lean Body Mass.
Below is a Table as a guide:
*If you want to gain muscle it’s a good idea to exercise!
The final consideration is protein quality.
Not all protein is created equal. A gram from free-range chicken breast is not the same as caged chicken cooked from frozen. The same goes with eggs.
If you aren’t gaining muscle despite eating sufficient protein, then your problem could lie here. Avoid soy protein and frozen foods, try to get high quality fresh cuts of meat from your butcher and free range eggs.
If you consume protein powders, be aware that the cheapest brands usually add fillers. This means that not only are they using cheaper ingredients, but it might not contain as much protein as it says on the label.
Can You Eat Too Much Protein?
While it’s not true that we can only absorb a limited amount of protein per meal, it is true that we can only absorb so much protein per hour.
For that reason it is fine to slightly exceed your protein requirements, but don’t do so believing that it will result in greater muscle gain.
This is why it’s best to spread your protein intake evenly across the whole day. Try working with 25-45 grams of protein per meal, as well as ensuring you are getting protein after your workout.
Keep track of your protein intake and remember that once you gain some lean muscle you will need to re-calculate your needs!