Protein Intake for Lean Muscle

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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No matter your fitness goal - be it building muscle or simply maintaining current levels - protein is an integral component.

Through exercise and non-exercise activities alike, muscles become damaged through microtears which trigger muscle protein breakdown (MPB).

When this process occurs, amino acids released are used to repair damage and build new tissue; regular resistance training sessions as well as sufficient intakes of dietary protein enhance this process.

For maximum protein absorption and muscle development, it's best to spread out protein-rich meals throughout the day in order to maximize digestion and assimilation.

Furthermore, high-quality proteins should contain all nine essential amino acids; such options may include meats and dairy foods, plant-based proteins like soy are also available.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein for adults is currently set at around 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, which serves as an adequate starting point.

However, active individuals interested in building muscle may want to increase their protein consumption further.

In this article we will cover the following:

  • What is protein?
  • Why Do You Need Protein?
  • How much protein should you consume daily?
  • What foods are the highest in protein?
  • How else can I build muscle?

It's hard to build muscle mass. You may see immediate results when you first start exercising, but your progress will soon plateau. 

You can also be held back by life. Whether it's a busy schedule, family obligations, or simply being 'past prime', it's hard to maintain progress. 

To maintain and increase muscle mass, eating more protein is essential. It is important to keep in mind that our diet can be just as, or even more, important than the workouts we perform. 

How can you increase your protein intake? 

Is protein the only way to encourage muscle protein synthesis or can we do other things? 

This article will show you how to increase your protein intake to build muscle mass. 

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What is Protein?

The macronutrients we require to perform our basic body functions are carbohydrates, fats and protein. 

Protein is essential for our growth, muscle building, bone health and hormone regulation. It also forms the basis of hair and nail. 

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Many of the amino acids that our bodies can produce are amongst the twenty available. We can get only nine of the essential amino acids through dietary proteins. 

Essential amino acids play a key role in the muscle protein synthesis process. This is why consuming a diet high in proteins is important for building muscle. 

How much protein should you consume daily?

FDA suggests that adults consume at least 50 grams protein per day. This is however based on 2000 calories per day. The majority of adult men will require much more food than 2000 calories to maintain themselves, especially those who exercise regularly. 

You can set a specific goal if you're serious about muscle building. Aim for between 1.8 and 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. 

You can eat up to 144g of protein per day if you weigh 80kg. This is equivalent to 2 large chicken breasts and 4 large eggs, plus a whey protein drink. 

What foods contain the most protein?

To get the best out of your exercise, you must first ensure that you have a balanced and healthy diet. The hardest part for many people is getting enough protein. 

Many people today consume a diet that is high in carbohydrate. It's not necessarily bad to eat carbs, but many people consume carbohydrates that are based around refined sugars which can be damaging to your health and promote obesity unless utilized as energy.

A typical macronutrient breakdown per day for an active person may typically look like:

  • 65% carbohydrates (preferably from rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and begetables as well as oats).
  • 20% fats (from sources such as nuts, olive oils, fatty fish and avocado)
  • 15% proteins (lean cuts of meat, fish, nuts, seeds, dairy, soy).

However, lets look at those protein sources in greater detail to give you a bit of a steer.

Meat-Based Protein Sources

Lean meats like: 

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Reduced fat beef mince
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sirloin, for example.¬†sirloin)¬†

Vegetarian Protein Sources

Most vegetarians can eat these animal products. 

  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Whey Protein Powders¬†

Vegan Protein Sources

There are plenty of other great sources of protein if you cannot consume animal products. 

Even if you're not vegan, plant-based foods are still an important part of your diet. 

  • Nuts, especially almonds
  • Legumes
  • Peanut Butter
  • Soybeans
  • Lentis
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Chia seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Hemp seeds
  • Protein powders made from plants

How else can you build muscle mass?

A calorie surplus is required to gain more muscle mass, this would include a surplus in all of the macronutrients. The key to a calorie surplus (sometimes known as a bulk) is to eat whole, nutritious foods rather than junk foods that are high in calorie yet offer little nutritional value.

By working out your current daily calorie needs, you can add a further 300-500kcals daily alongside a progressive resistance training regime to sustainably increase muscular mass.

If you're committed to your workout program and eat healthy, but still don't see the results that you want, what can you do? 

Supplements can help you achieve your goals if you're feeling frustrated by the lack of results. Supplements can help you get all the nutrients that your body needs in a balanced diet that you may be otherwise deficient.

Military Muscle offers a product that will help you achieve your desired physique. Our powerful, legal and all-natural alternative to steroids will help you achieve the physique of your dreams. 

Military Muscle has similar effects to anabolic steroids or prohormones without the dangerous and nasty side effects. Military Muscle will help you lift more weight and stay longer at the gym. 

Conclusion

Protein is the cornerstone of muscle. Composed of long chains of smaller molecules known as amino acids, protein forms the building blocks for muscle tissue. There are 20 essential amino acids (i.e. cannot produce them on its own and must obtain from food) out of which nine must come from our digestive tract and enter systemic circulation to be put to work building and repairing tissues - including muscle.

Studies indicate a minimum requirement of 0.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight, which would amount to roughly 64 grams for an adult who weighs 80kg. If your goal is building more muscle mass, however, the amount of protein must increase significantly.

One widely cited study discovered that muscle protein synthesis (the process by which your body builds new muscles) is maximized when consumed after training sessions with high protein meals.

Other studies have confirmed that increasing protein consumption beyond the RDA when combined with resistance training does lead to significant gains in muscle strength and size; however, beyond 1.8 grams/kg per day the benefits seem to plateau, and there is limited evidence suggesting sedentary people require more than 1.2-1.4 gram/kg daily of protein intake.

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