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How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscle?

Updated on October 31, 2011

Protein is very important for maintaining and building muscle mass. How much is actually needed to build muscle though? Are the requirements for building muscle the same as someone who is less active or is it the same? The amount of protein needed will vary from person to person, but there is a certain amount needed to either maintain current muscle or build new muscle.

Protein For Active Individuals Versus Less Active People

The protein requirements will be much higher for someone who lifts weights or does some kind of intense exercise 3-5 times a week. This is because activities that use muscle such as weightlifting will require more protein to repair damaged muscle cells. Protein requirements for a sedentary person that does not exercise as often or at all, will not need nearly as much protein.

An adult needs at least 55-100 grams of protein a day, but these requirements will be higher if they want to build lean muscle mass or are maintaining a certain amount of muscle mass. Bodybuilders have been known to consume 2.0 times their bodyweight in protein. Too much protein, however, can be hard on the kidneys.

How Much Protein To Build Muscle?

A good rule of thumb is to consume your body weight in protein. This, however, is not completely accurate because it will depend on how much lean muscle you have, fat does not count. For example, a 185 lb male who has an average body fat % of about 15% will need about 185 grams of protein daily in order to gain or maintain muscle.

Consuming your weight in protein is generally enough to either build more muscle or maintain muscle. Keep in mind, however, a person who is overweight should not consume more protein just because they weigh more. The amount of muscle on your body is what determines how much protein you need. For instance, a male who is 250 lbs at 30% bodyfat would not need to consume 250 grams of protein daily, that would be way too much! Again, it is the lean muscle mass, not the total amount of weight.

It may be a good idea to find out what your bodyfat % is, then subtract that number. Whatever that number is, then that is approximately how much protein you need.

Your body type may require that you need more protein

Individuals who are naturally skinny may require more protein than other people. They also usually require more carbohydrates and essential fats. These group of people are called ectomorphs. An ectomorph is someone who has a smaller bone structure and has a higher metabolism. They are those people who eat a lot of food and can even eat less healthy meals and do not gain any weight. These types of people may require a bit more protein to build muscle. If you find that you are either losing muscle or not gaining any more muscle, this may be because your protein intake is not high enough. This is, of course, assuming you sleep at least 8 hours a day and also get the proper amount of calories etc. And are also weight training effectively. All the protein in the world will not build you muscle if your overall diet is lacking, you don't get enough sleep, or your workouts are ineffective.

Now there are also some people who will require less protein. They may not even need their body weight in protein. These individuals usually have a lower metabolism and gain both fat and muscle easily. These people are known as endomorphs. They have a large bone structure and are more suseptable to gaining fat, but can usually can gain muscle easier if they workout consistently.

It is important to understand your body and what works for you. You may need more or less protein. Some people may require less than their bodyweight in protein or others may require more.

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    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      I agree with dwelburn, very good view point. So people do not have the understanding how the body works, it can not store protein, so any excess will be excreted as waste or stored as fat. Thumbs up on your hub David470

    • dwelburn profile image

      David 3 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Good balance viewpoint on how much protein is needed. A lot of people go way overboard on this.

    • jenniferg78 profile image

      jenniferg78 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks for this article. I always followed general recommendations based on how much activity I was doing, not based on weight. Guess I have to rethink what I eat!

    • Carlon Michelle profile image

      Carlon Michelle 6 years ago from USA

      I think I've just learned some valuable incite into protien intake for muscle gain. Thank you for your research and sharing. Smile!

    • funmontrealgirl profile image

      funmontrealgirl 6 years ago from Montreal

      How about women? If a woman wants to have a healthy fit body, what would you recommend?

    • gajanis786 profile image

      gajanis786 6 years ago

      Good informative hub.....no doubt the importance of protein for all ages is always there it's only that we sometime do not realize and act accordingly and sometime it's too late when we realize it.....it is as important in kids as well and a good rule of thumb is that 0.45-0.55 grams of protein is needed per pound of body weight for kids age 1- 14 years old. Thanks.

    • smcopywrite profile image

      smcopywrite 6 years ago from all over the web

      great information. thank you for sharing. protein is more important than many of us realize.