Eat Your F**king Protein. Here’s Why…

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 crazy reach of this website.

And 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 full advantage of their efforts.

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 protein you should be eating each day, and where you can get it from.


Watch The Video, Or Read Below Instead…


how much protein per day to build muscle and burn fat

How Much Protein Should You Eat Each Day?

Let’s get into some figures.

First off, I’d like to point out that government guidelines are useless for gym-goers.

Those figures are aimed at sedentary individuals, not athletes.

They suggest eating 0.35g protein per lb of body weight, which is nowhere near the level required to support muscle growth. (2, 3)

In 2018, a comprehensive meta-analysis 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), and consuming higher than this likely won’t lead to additional muscle gain.

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

So by aiming our protein intake slightly above one gram per pound, we can maximize the muscle building benefits and also curb our appetite in the process, which will only help us get leaner.

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

For a guy with a goal weight of 180lbs, that’s 216 grams of protein. For a girl with a goal weight of 126lbs, that’s 151 grams.


how to build muscle

Why Do We Need To Eat Protein?

See the bad-a** group of people in the image above?

That’s 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 analogy will make more sense than some motherf**er waffling at you from a textbook…)

So who are The Expendables?

Well, we have Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Chuck f**kin’ Norris…

Each character is an important component of the team, bringing their own unique skill-set to the table.

For instance, Sylvester Stallone has the ability to do the greatest “things are about to go down” face in the history of ever.

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. And each plays a different role in building your best physique.

This group is 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 “essential” because the body is incapable of creating them, meaning they must be obtained via our diet.

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

I know amino acids don’t sound as awe-inspiring as Sly and the gang, but what they do is every bit as cool.

Because without them, we physically cannot build muscle.

Seriously.

In fact, if we are 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?

Great!

So let’s get back to The Expendables for the next part…

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

If we had to narrow it down to the main three Expendables we’d probably go with Stallone, Statham and Lundgren.

The rest of the group is fantastic, but these are “the big three”, due to the pivotal roles they have within the group.

And the same thing is true with amino acids.

There are three in particular which are more important in the muscle building process. These are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

They’re often called branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Of these three, leucine is our Stallone.

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

And while isoleucine and valine do help, it is clear who the star of the show is.

You may notice that all of these are in my list of essential amino acids, meaning we gotta get them via our diet otherwise we miss out on all the benefits.

Hopefully, things are beginning to click into place.

Do You Need To Use Whey Protein?

Short answer: NO.

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

I’m not bashing whey protein by any means, but supplements aren’t as essential to results as they make out.

Instead, I encourage people to get as much of their protein from food as possible. Your body will have to work harder to break it down, which will keep you feeling full, and you’ll enjoy it more. Whey is merely a convenient choice to help you hit your protein target if you’re struggling.

That’s all.

Another supplement we’re often told we should use is BCAAs.

You know how important they are from the section above, where I compared them to The Expendables. But if you are hitting your protein requirements then you don’t need a BCAA supplement. Save your money.

It’s worth noting that many of the so-called “gurus” who proclaim we must eat super-high levels of protein each day also own supplement companies.

There is a definite conflict of interest there, and there’s no research to support their claims.

This information in this article is based on the most thorough meta-analysis of protein requirements ever published. You know exactly how much you need per day to build muscle.

Anyone saying you need even more is full of s**t.

how much protein to build muscle

Which Whey Protein Supplements Do I Recommend?

If you do decide to grab a whey protein supplement, here’s how to spot a good one.

It should contain 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 total calorie content and not have too much impact on your food choices.

You also want to get a protein blend.

A blend means the supplement contains more than one source of protein (whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg protein, casein, soya, pea protein).

Each protein source has a different release speed for the amino acids it contains so, while it won’t fill you as much as food, it will be the next best thing, and research shows that blends are superior to isolates. (11)

Something like Myprotein Total Protein Blend or Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard will do the job.

If you also struggle to hit your daily fat target, I’d opt for Primal One (higher fat content, which can be convenient).


best diet for building muscle fast

What Are The Best Foods For Protein?

Getting your daily protein intake from food is 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 mine in our George Foreman Grill. Takes 10 minutes flat.

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

Tuna is a close second, but we also have other items we can use.

Easy protein sources:

Chicken breast, tuna, turkey, salmon, lean beef, steak, cod, pork, chicken thighs, Icelandic yogurt, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, clams.

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

But while the foods may change on a daily basis, there is one constant:

I always hit my goal.

I am shocked by the number of people who go to the gym and train their a** off, only to be “hit & miss” with their daily protein intake.

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

If you enjoyed reading this article, (and if me using The Expendables to explain how protein works really did make more sense than a textbook!), give this page a share.

References:

  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)
  11. Paul G. L., et al. The rationale for consuming protein blends in sports nutrition. J Am Coll Nutr. (2009)

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