Eat Your F**king Protein. Here’s Why…

How much protein should you eat per day to build muscle? MORE than most people do. Don’t worry, The Expendables and I will show you how to do it…

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Over the years, it’s safe to say I’ve worked with thousands of men and women in the gym.

Maybe even tens of thousands, thanks to the reach of this website and my app.

I see one recurring problem…

Lots of people aren’t hitting their daily protein goal.

They’re training hard in the gym, but failing to get adequate protein in their diet to take advantage of all of their hard work.

I don’t like that.

So in this post, I’m going to show you why protein needs to be a nutritional priority. I’ll also reveal how much you should be eating each day, and where you can get it.

Here’s a video overview:

how to build muscle

Why We Need To Eat Protein

The bad-a** group above are known as The Expendables.

They’re the guys you send in when the guys you already sent in couldn’t get the job done.

(Stick with me because this will make perfect sense…)

If we look past them as a collective, we have a bunch of bad-a**es who are tough SOB’s in their own right; Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Jet Li, and Chuck f**kin’ Norris.

They’re all crucial components of the team, each with their own individual skill-set.

For instance, Sylvester Stallone has the ability to do the best “things are about to go down” face I’ve ever f**king seen:

the expendables protein

But what exactly do The Expendables have to do with protein?!

Well, like these guys, protein is made up of several different components; each plays a different role in the building of your physique.

They’re called amino acids.

Individually, they’re known as leucine, isoleucine, valine, histidine, lysine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine, and threonine.

That list of amino acids above is restricted to the 9 essential amino acids. They’re deemed “essential” because the body is incapable of creating them on it’s own, meaning they must be obtained via our diet.

However, much like the later Expendables sequels where they team grew to an insane number, there’s a total of 21 amino acids if we broaden our horizons to include non-essential members of the family.

I know they don’t sound as bad-a** as Sly and the gang, but what they do is every bit as cool.

Because without them, we physically cannot build muscle.


In fact, if we are severely deficient in just ONE of these crucial little bad boys, no lean muscle tissue can be built!

So here’s where eating enough protein comes into play…

If we go to the gym and train with weights, we create micro-tears in our muscle tissue. The body then recovers by making the muscle grow slightly bigger and stronger, so it can cope with the workload in future.

But without the necessary amino acids to do this, we’re simply staying the damn same.

(… or even worse, we’re losing muscle!)

It’s like knocking a wall down and rebuilding it without making it any bigger or any better.

Make sense?


Let’s get back to The Expendables for the next part… because they’re awesome…

expendables protein
Sly, Stath, and Dolph. Or as I like to call them; leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

If we had to pick only three Expendables we’d probably narrow it down to Sly, Statham and Dolph.

Sure, the rest of the group is fantastic.

But these are “the big three”, because they have pivotal roles in each movie.

And the same thing is true regarding those all-important amino acids.

There are three in particular which are more responsible for building muscle than the rest. These are known as the Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs); leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Of the three, leucine is our Stallone.

It is directly responsible for kick-starting the muscle building process, much like Sly is the backbone of the whole movie franchise. (1)

The other two work as a backup to leucine, but make no mistake who the star of the show is.

You may notice that all of these crucial components are in the list of essential amino acids, meaning we gotta get them via our diet, otherwise we’re missing out.

Hopefully, things are starting to click into place.

Anyway, many supplement companies like to shout about the importance of taking a BCAA supplement to spike muscle growth further, but the truth is you don’t need one if you already have a diet which is sufficient in protein.

If you can match the guidelines below correctly, you’ll be maximizing your results anyway.

how much protein per day to build muscle and burn fat

How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day To Build Muscle And Burn Fat?

I hope you enjoyed those Expendables comparisons. It was great fun to write.

Now that we’ve established why we need to prioritize protein in our diet, let’s get into some figures.

First off, I’d like to point out that generic government guidelines are completely useless.

Those figures are aimed at sedentary individuals, not athletes. As such, they shouldn’t be applied to anyone who partakes in a structured workout routine.

Government guidelines suggest around 0.35g protein per lb of body weight. (2)

This is nowhere near enough to support muscle growth, and I suggest going much higher with your intake. (3)

In 2018, the most comprehensive meta-analysis ever published on protein supplementation determined that the “sweet spot” for athletes appears to be around 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight. (4)

This falls in line with the majority of prior research pertaining to athletes and bodybuilders. (5, 6, 7, 8)

how much protein per day to build muscle

The diagram above shows us that consuming 1.5 grams of protein per lb is slightly superior to 1 gram – and both are significantly better than consuming the RDA (recommended dietary allowance).

So why is this?

Well, interestingly, the muscle building effects of protein appear top out at 1.18 grams per lb (at least, for natural athletes). Consuming higher than this likely won’t lead to additional muscle being built.

However, it may have some positive effects on fat loss due to protein’s appetite suppressing capabilities. (9)

I recommend aiming for 1.2 grams of protein per lb of body weight each day and monitoring your results.

This way, you are maximizing protein’s muscle building benefits and also curbing your appetite in the process, which will only help you get leaner.

how much protein to build muscle

Let’s do some calculations using these figures…

This means a 180lb man would be aiming for somewhere between 180-270 grams of protein per day, and a 120lb woman would go for 120-180 grams.

If they take my advice and aim to hit 1.2g per lb, the guy would shoot for 216 grams and the lady for 144.

That’s right in the sweet spot for maximizing muscle gain and improving fat loss via appetite suppression.

… meanwhile, government guidelines suggest as little as 63 grams and 42 grams respectively.

See the huge inaccuracy?

Before we move on, some so-called “fitness gurus” recommend going as high as 2 or even 3 grams of protein per lb body weight, claiming you’ll build more muscle.

But, as you can see above, this isn’t true.

In fact, finding any research to support those claims is difficult, and it’s very impractical advice.

Plus, said “gurus” also own supplement companies and therefore have a definite conflict of interest.

Do You Need A Protein Supplement?

Short answer; nope!

Many of my clients hit their daily protein requirements without the need for a whey protein supplement.

I also do.

I’m not bashing whey protein supplements by any means, but they’re not as essential to results as the fitness world often makes out.

Instead, I encourage people to view whey as a convenient way to help you hit your protein target if you’re struggling. That’s all it is.

Which Protein Supplements Do I Recommend?

If you use a whey protein supplement, look for one which contains around 20 grams of protein per serving.

This is the optimal amount for spiking muscle growth. (10)

how much protein per day to build muscle

We also want a shake which contains less than 5g carbs, and less than 5g fat. This way, it’ll have a relatively low calorie content and not impact your food intake very much.

Something like Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey, or Myprotein Impact Whey, would do the trick.

If you also struggle to hit your daily fat target, I’d go for something like Love Life Supplements Primal One instead (much higher fat content, which can be convenient for some).

best diet for building muscle fast

Which Foods Will Give Me Protein?

Obtaining your daily protein intake from food is actually pretty straightforward.

People often say things like, “Oh but Russ, I don’t like this… and I don’t like that…”

You kinda have to just figure something out which works for you, and run with it. Unfortunately, we can’t live on cookies and ice cream if we want to be yoked.

Luckily, there are plenty of protein-rich foods to choose from…

Chicken breast is my “go to”.

I cook all of mine in our George Foreman Grill. Literally takes 10 minutes flat.

It’s the staple food of any athletes diet because it simply does the job. Plus, via seasoning and the variety low calorie sauces we have access to nowadays, there are dozens of ways to get creative and keep it interesting.

Tuna is a close second.

But behind that we also have turkey, lean beef, lamb, steak, pork, salmon, cod, clams, Icelandic yogurt, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and eggs, to name just a few.

The bulk of my daily protein intake will arrive from the foods above. I switch it up every day, depending what we have in the fridge.

But the one constant; I always hit my goal.

I am shocked by the amount of people who go to the gym and train hard, but are very “hit & miss” with their daily protein intake.

That’s a habit to get out of if you really want to build your best body.

If you enjoyed reading this article, or me using The Expendables to explain how protein works, give this page a share and grab my app so you can do my workout plans.

Russ Howe PTI


  1. Anthony, J. C., et al. Leucine stimulates translation initiation in skeletal muscle of postabsorptive rats via a rapamycin-sensitive pathway. J Nutr. (2000)
  2. 10 Protein and Amino Acids. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Institute of Medicine. (2005)
  3. Bray, G. A., et al. Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. (2012)
  4. Morton, R. W., et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. (2018)
  5. Thomas, D. T., et al. American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2016)
  6. Jäger, R., et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2017)
  7. Morton, R. W., et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. (2018)
  8. Witard, O. C., et al. Effect of increased dietary protein on tolerance to intensified training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2011)
  9. Leaf, A., et al. The Effects of Overfeeding on Body Composition: The Role of Macronutrient Composition – A Narrative Review. Int J Exerc Sci. (2017)
  10. Moore, D. R., et al. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. (2009)

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