Carbohydrates and fats have their share of haters, but protein always has a good press. It is understandable; it is an essential nutrient for strong muscles, skin, bones, and almost every other body part. It helps in numerous chemical reactions to ensure your body functions well.
Although various nutritional organizations recommend a modest protein intake, the opinions regarding protein intake to build muscle vary. So, exactly how much protein is needed to build muscle? This article will walk you through the role of protein and the required amount of protein to build muscle.
What is Protein and its Role in the Body?
Protein is among the three nutrients you must take in larger amounts in your diet to function properly. It is made of long chains of smaller units the body uses for muscle growth and repair, known as amino acids.
Over 300 or more amino acids combine to form protein. The number and sequence of these acids are unique to each protein and define their function. The human body consists of thousands of proteins, each performing a specific function.
Some primary functions of protein include:
1. Growth and Maintenance
Protein is essential for your growth and the upkeep of its tissues. However, you must understand that the proteins in your body are in a constant cycle of renewal. Your body breaks down the same amount of protein it uses to construct and mend tissues. There are instances, though, when it breaks down more protein than it can generate. It can lead to an increased demand for protein in your body.
2. Causes Biochemical Reactions
Enzymes are specialized proteins that facilitate numerous biochemical reactions. These reactions take place inside and outside your cells. The structural composition of enzymes allows them to interact with specific molecules, called substrates, within the cell.
3. Provides Structure
Fibrous proteins provide stiffness and rigidity to cells and tissues. They include keratin, elastin, and collagen and form the connective framework of certain structures in the body.
4. Balances Fluids
Proteins, namely albumin and globulin, help regulate body processes to maintain fluid balance. Consuming inadequate protein can decrease the required protein level to attract and retain water.
Importance of Adjusting Protein Intake Based on Individual Goals and Progress
Protein is vital. But that, in no way, means more is better. The daily protein requirement varies depending on the body. Modifying your protein intake depending on your goal is significant to optimize your diet and achieve specific outcomes.
1. Health Conditions
You may need to adjust your protein if you suffer from specific health conditions, like diabetes or metabolic disorders. A large amount of protein can affect your sugar levels and overall health.
2. Muscle Building
It is beneficial to increase your protein intake to build muscle. Protein provides essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth and repair. Adjusting your protein range can help you reach your fitness goal more effectively.
Also Read: 9 Muscle Building Foods for Lean Mass
3. Monitoring Progress
Tracking your progress when working towards fitness and healthy goals is essential. Knowing your protein intake allows you to fine-tune your diet to see the desired results.
4. Weight Management
Increasing protein can assist you in controlling your appetite and making you feel full for longer. It reduces calorie intake and facilitates weight loss.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
Everyone has a different protein requirement per day. The amount depends on muscle mass, age, activity level, and overall health. Hence, the answer to how much protein to build muscle varies from one person to another.
You can use the following methods to calculate your daily protein requirement.
1. Percent of Daily Calories
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines suggest approximately 10% to 35% of your daily calories should come from protein. Learn about how many calories you consume daily to get your number and track your intake.
2. Protein Gram Per Day
You can also use a specific number of protein grams daily instead of the percentage approach. The easiest way to learn your protein range is to translate the percent into a gram range. Each protein gram contains four calories. Consequently, a person taking 2,000 calories must consume 200 - 700 calories from protein, which equals 50 - 175 grams.
3. Based on Weight and Activity
You can also consider lean muscle mass and physical activity level to calculate your required protein intake to build muscle. An average adult should take a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. One kilogram is 2.2 pounds. Hence, a person with 165 pounds needs about 60 grams of protein daily.
What are the Risks of Not Getting Enough Protein?
The suggested amount of protein is a guide for many healthy people. Eating that amount, however, does not mean you are meeting your daily protein requirement. Age is one of the reasons behind it. Your body requires more protein to build and maintain muscles as you age. You may not notice the early signs that indicate you need more protein. But it can have severe health effects in the long term.
Here are some ways in which low protein consumption can affect your body and well-being.
1. Mood Changes
Chemicals known as neurotransmitters relay information between cells. Most of them are made of the building blocks of protein. Hence, less protein in your diet can result in a lack of neurotransmitters and affect how your brain works. You may feel overly aggressive or depressed with low serotonin and dopamine.
2. Slow-Healing Injuries
Proteins help build muscle repair, skin, and other body tissues. People consuming low protein often find their wounds and cuts take longer to get better. The same is the case with sprains and other exercise-related injuries. It might be the result of less collagen in your body. Proteins are essential for blood clots and faster healing.
3. Weakness and Fatigue
Research shows that a week of insufficient protein consumption can adversely impact the muscles responsible for your movement and posture. A lack of protein can make you lose muscle and slow your metabolism. It can ultimately lead to anemia and cause tiredness over time.
4. Getting Sick
Amino acids help your immune system make antibodies and activate white blood cells to ward off bacteria, toxins, and viruses. Protein is crucial for digestion and absorption of nutrients to keep you healthy. In fact, studies have proven protein can change the disease-fighting good bacteria level in your gut.
The human body requires protein to stay healthy and work as it should. Ensuring you receive enough in your diet is very important. A high protein intake to build muscle helps you improve your body composition and metabolism health. However, extra amounts can lead to elevated blood lipids and heart disease.It taxes kidneys and increases the risk to people with kidney diseases. Hence, you must determine your accurate daily protein requirement. Further, pair your protein food with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to receive other essential nutrients.