This is a question that has crossed the mind of almost every person who has ever lifted a weight or entered a gym: How much protein should you eat a day to repair and grow my muscles after a hard workout ?

Ask 100 guys, girls, experts and amateurs alike and I will guarantee you will get just about 100 different answers based purely on what they think is right, or what they have been told. All of which leads to the mass of confusion that surrounds this very subject.

So in order to answer this question and put your mind to rest I will help you cut through the fiction and hit you with the cold, hard, scientific facts!

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What we need protein for

Before we answer the ‘how much’, what we really need to look at is WHY we actually need it in the first place.

You’d be surprised by the amount of people who never really consider this question, but consume as much protein as possible as if it was some kind of magical food that gives them superpowers…..well if this is you (or even if it isn’t) read on!

Quite simply, protein is required by our bodies for the growth, maintenance and repair of all cells. This is why everyone needs to consume a minimum required amount per day, not just athletes and bodybuilders.

Protein is of course a major component of all muscle tissue, but is also vital for practically every process in the body such as digestion, metabolism and the transport of nutrients and oxygen in the blood. It’s also necessary for the production of antibodies which fight against infection and keep us fighting fit and well.

So how much protein should you eat?

Two options of protein intake

1) Adopt the ‘more is always better’ approach and consume as much protein as you can stomach.

2) Use a calculated approach based on tried and tested scientific results to get an optimal amount of protein per day to do everything you need it to.

One of these works out extremely expensive, totally unnecessary and also counter productive by making absolutely no difference to the amount of muscle mass that an individual can grow.[1] ….The other is based on scientific fact!

How much protein should you eat a day_2

Facts and figures…

The minimum recommended dietary allowance for adults is as little as 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. So the average 140 lbs adult would only need around 50g of protein per day just to function properly.[2]

However for those who exercise and train regularly and those wishing to put on some muscle mass the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that active people, endurance and strength athletes should be consuming 0.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight and up to a maximum of 0.8 grams per pound for full time athletes. [3]

So, if we look once again at our average 140lbs adult, who just happens to be a full time athlete (or at least likes to train like one) they would have a daily protein intake of;

140 lbs x 0.8g = 112 grams 

112g of protein each and every day….now I am sure there will be some of you reading this will be eating that much for breakfast – Stop! It’s just too much.

All you need is to multiply your bodyweight by between 0.6 and 0.8 to get your individual level of required protein consumption, divide this figure out into several meals throughout the day and then get it from high quality sources such as chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, pork and of course fish and you have your perfect amount of protein!

If you still think that this is far too low for you to keep your hard earned muscle or build some new, I urge you to just try it for a few weeks.

Do the calculations yourself and let me know how you have benefited from consuming just the right amount of what your body needs, by commenting on this post or getting in touch.

If you think you know someone who would benefit by either increasing or reducing their daily protein consumption don’t keep this to yourself …share it with them!

References

1.Jose Antonio, et. al., The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11:19, 2014.
2.Tarnopolsky, M.A. Atkinson, S.A., MacDougall, J.D.,Chesley,A.,Phillips,S.,&Schwarcz,H.P (1992). “Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes”. Journal of applied physiology, 73(5), 1986-1995.
3. “Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders”. Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Aug;73(2):767-75.

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