How Much Protein To Build Muscle?

When it comes to building muscle, your gym routine is only part of the puzzle — your diet, particularly your protein intake, is the other key factor.   

In general, you need between 1.2 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily to encourage muscle growth.   

While specific factors can play a role in where you fall on that range, supplying your muscles with quality protein from your diet is the key to promoting muscle growth. Read on to learn about how to make the most of your protein intake.


How much protein do you need to build muscle?

Now that you know the general range of protein needed to build muscle, let’s dive deeper into the specifics, based on your sex and body type. These are estimates, and vary based on your age and level of activity.

   Underweight   Healthy Weight   Overweight   Obese  
Male   2.0g/ per KG bodyweight   1.4 g/ per KG bodyweight   1.2g/ per KG bodyweight   1.2g/ per KG bodyweight  
Female   1.8g/ per KG bodyweight   1.2g/ per KG bodyweight   1g/ per KG bodyweight   1g/ per KG bodyweight  




What is protein?

Protein is one of the three macronutrients along with fat and carbs. It provides 4 calories per gram and is made up of amino acids.   

Protein comes from both animal and plant sources, like meat, eggs, dairy products, beans and peas. While it occurs naturally in many foods, there are also a wide variety of protein supplements on the market.



How much protein do you need on a normal diet?

If you’re not exercising excessively or trying to gain mass, 0.8-1.2g per kg of body weight is appropriate. Certain ages when we experience more growth (like adolescence) or as we age and start to lose muscle mass (55+), you may be on the higher end of the range.



How does protein contribute to muscle growth?

Much of our body is made up of protein, including muscle, bones, skin, and hair. Because its function is so widespread, there’s a constant turnover of proteins in our body — some being broken down (catabolism) and some being built up (anabolism).   

The amount of protein we consume in our diets can influence whether we’re in a building or breaking down state. 

Exercising causes stress on our muscles, making tiny tears or injuries in the muscle proteins that need to be repaired. Consuming more calories and protein in our diet than we’re breaking down provides the building blocks for our muscles to repair and gain mass over time. 

When should you eat protein to build muscle?

If your goal is to build muscle, you need both an excess of calories for the day and adequate protein to rebuild any microtears you create during your workouts. While it was thought that you needed to consume protein within two hours of your workout, now we know that your protein intake for up to 24 hours after you hit the gym supports your muscle building. 

Once you know your total needs for the day, it’s best to break up your protein intake into 3 or 4 meals or snacks each day.

High-protein foods to help you build muscle

The table below lists some high–protein foods and compares the amount of protein in each food based on a 100g serving. However, remember 100g is not necessarily the serving size of each of these foods.   

While chia seeds are high per 100g, you would likely not consume more than 10g at a time — you might consume more than 100g of milk at once.


Take home message

Protein is a key nutrient found in many of our foods, and available in many supplement forms.    

As the key muscle builder, protein in our diet, along with exercise that challenges our muscles, causes them to repair and grow.   

Following an eating pattern that includes high quality protein is an important part of building muscle and meeting your strength goals.


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