How Much Protein Do YOU Need To Build Muscle?

How much protein do you need to build muscleAny newcomer to the gym will have seen a multitude of shakers, bottles and tubs all containing a variety of multicoloured liquids and powders.

This burst of curiosity immediately leads noobies over the rainbow in search of the pot of gold. That magic supplement that will lead to mega gains.

That’s why we hit the gym right, for DEM GAINZ? Whether you’re looking to undergo a before and after weight loss transformation, or if you want to bulk like the Hulk, this pot of gold is believe to be a tub of protein powder.

Before running out an buying protein supplements however, its important to know how just how much protein YOU need to be eating.

A 160 lb teenager will need a lot less protein than professional strongman Benedikt Magnuson for example.

TLDR Version:

Method 1:
Bodyweight * 0.8-1.5 = Grams of Protein that should be consumed each Day

Method 2:
Multiply your body weight by 16-20 = Total Calories for the day
25-35% of Total Calories for the day = Calories required from protein
Divide Calories required by protein by 4 = Grams of Protein required each day

Want to know more about how these calculations were figured out? Read on…

Too Much Protein?

Protein powders are the supplement industries #1 selling product. The misconception of protein shakes leads to muscle gain has overwhelmed young athletes and lifters, leading them to believe that a protein shake will magically lead to rapid muscle gain. The disbelief that more protein = more muscle also doesn’t help matters. Bro’s in the gym will justify their overeating or bad food choices with “Dude, im bulking. This protein is gonna make me jacked.”

The facts are, however, protein is needed to build muscle. Consuming an uncontrolled surplus of protein will likely lead to a calorie surpluss (in conjunction with calories from fats and carbs) which will lead to fat gain.

Gaining a ton of fat during a ‘bulk’ is no good, as it only means you need then need to bust your ass dieting longer during your fat loss phase.

A protein powder is a convenient, cost effective way to make sure you’re hitting the required level of protein, in order go gain muscle. By no mean’s are protein powders essential. Anyone of us can get a sufficient amount of protein from eating whole foods.

However, limiting your protein intake to just 1 source is a bad choice, preventing you from absorbing a full range of amino acids. A protein supplement makes our lives easier. As i’ve already said, protein shakes are a convenient way to supplement your protein intake, alongside a balanced & varied diet, geared for muscle building or fat loss.

How much protein do you need to build muscle?

gain muscle protein memeThe amount of protein required for building muscle varies depending upon person to person. Factors such as goals, training schedule, genetics, supplementation and intensity of training all play a part in assessing how much protein is required.

The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of protein, as established by the Journal of American Medical Association, was deemed as being 0.36 grams per lb of body weight for adults aged 18 and over.

This amount will definitely conflict with what you see in the bodybuilding magazines, supplement marketing material, and it definitely conflicts with what i practice and preach.

Taking a 200lb male (which is roughly what i weigh in at at the time of writing this post) would mean my daily protein requirement would be 72 grams. That means by 11am each day i’ll have met my protein requirement for building muscle.

Come lunch time i’ve consumed too much protein (time to get fat!) In just a chicken breast and 6 eggs that’s the RDA’s protein consumption blown out of the water.

A closer look at this report by the American Medical Association reveals that the figures released as the RDA for protein consumption were based on studies which estimated the bare minimum amount of protein required to prevent muscle loss, or muscle catabolism, as reflected by nitrogen balance.

This means that 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body mass is required to prevent a loss of lean mass, among 18-50 year old people (the sample used in the study). Therefore this RDA is not intended for anyone exercising and looking to build muscle.

The Acceptable Macronutrient Range (AMDR) for protein consumption is infact between 10%-35% of total calorie consumption for the day. Again, using myself as an example, my daily energy intake for competition prep is around 16 calories per lb of bodyweight.

For bulking purposes, I have ventured as far as 20 calories per lb of body weight, however this lead to too much fat gain. Anyone looking to build muscle should aim for anywhere between 16-20 calories per lb of body weight.

My daily intake:

16*200 = 3200 calories per day
10% Protein Intake = 80g Protein per day (0.4g per lb)
35% Protein Intake = 280g Protein per day (1.5g per lb)

legs workout 5Even the lowest acceptable amount is higher than the RDA. Obviously the RDA guidelines are insufficient for those looking to build muscle mass. Due to all these ranges, confusion arises among those looking to build muscle as to how much protein they do in fact need to eat. 0.36g of protein per lb of bodyweight is the RDA to prevent muscle breakdown and repair nail, skin and hair growth and repair for non-active humans. These are people who do not exercise or train.

For those expending calories through exercise, and who are tearing down muscle tissue through weight training, a considerably higher amount of protein consumption is required, something that supplement companies have latched onto. From cheap supplements to premium priced protein powders, supplement companies have marketed their products as the holy grail of muscle building supplements.

The marketing campaigns employed by said companies often mislead consumers into believing that excessive intake of protein, or regular use of their supplements will make physiques sported by the likes of Ronnie Coleman and Arnold Schwarzenegger obtainable.

So just how much protein is required to build muscle for a bodybuilder or athlete?

For serious weight lifters, athletes and those looking to gain muscle, I would recommend a range of 0.8g – 1.5g of protein per lb of body weight. 0.8g would be the minimum to prevent your body entering a catabolic state.

Excess of 1.5g (35% of your daily calorie intake) would be excessive and research does not show protein intake in excess of this amount to provide any more benefits to gaining muscle. As a general rule of thumb, an average of 1g of protein per lb of body weight can be used as a base line protein consumption.

Of course day on day this may vary slightly, however I would personally ensure to always consume a minimum of 1g per lb of bodyweight, and never more than 1.5g.

My Required Amount of Protein To Build Muscle

Im currently weighing in at around 200 lbs, and I consume anywhere from 220-240 grams of protein per day. This is regardless of whether I am bulking or cutting. I adjust my carbohydrate intake and level of cardio depending on if i want to gain weight or lose weight.

240 grams of protein may be difficult for an average person to eat. I’ve been training for a few years, and im used to dieting accordingly. Im a firm believer in eating regularly, every 2-3 hours (oh no bro science!) Typically I consume 30-40 grams per meal, and use protein shakes to help me obtain this goal. Occasionally i am able to consume all of my protein from food sources such as eggs, chicken, turkey, fish and beef.


However using a protein shake is a convenient, cost effective way to help supplement my diet and offer a wider level of variety. Protein powders I use include whey protein and casein protein. Read my impact whey review or casein protein review to find out why I use those. Im able to get cheap supplements like these using a myprotein discount code. If you’d like to read more about different supplements check out our supplement reviews, protein powder for weight loss or best protein powder for women.

Your Required Amount Of Protein To Build Muscle

Method 1:
Bodyweight * 0.8-1.5 = Grams of Protein that should be consumed each Day

Method 2:
Multiply your body weight by 16-20 = Total Calories for the day
25-35% of Total Calories for the day = Calories required from protein
Divide Calories required by protein by 4 = Grams of Protein required each day

There you have it folks. I hope this helped out. Let me know how your progress is going down in the comments below and make sure to subscribe to the Shreddybrek Youtube Channel.

Adam Foster is an aspiring bodybuilder, and has been training since a teenager. As the founder of the website & youtube channel 'Shreddybrek' he shares his experiences and knowledge via informative videos and articles. Get in touch if you have any questions!

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