How Much Protein to Build Muscle?

    How Much Protein to Build Muscle?  Most people eat too much protein. In fact most people eat too much in an attempt to eat enough protein. I really like what Brad Pilon has to say about this:

Find Out If Protein Guilt Is Sabotaging your Weight Loss

By Brad Pilon, MS

Carbohydrates and Fats have both taken their turn as the evil food that you should never eat, but protein is always the golden child that can do no wrong.  Or can it?   I think protein has been put so high on a pedestal for both weight loss and muscle gaining that you can begin to suffer from something I like to call “protein guilt”. 

 So what is protein guilt? Well I’ll tell you.

If you eat any food and especially EXTRA food simply because you think you need it for protein, then you have protein guilt.

I realized I had protein guilt a few years ago when I used to analyze every meal I ate for the protein content. If the meal I was eating didn’t have at least 30 grams of protein I went out of my way to eat something else to make sure I got my 30 grams.

This is a perfect example of protein guilt – I felt guilty if I didn’t eat a precise amount of protein at every meal. I couldn’t just enjoy food anymore, I could only think about the protein content because I believed protein was so important for burning fat and gaining muscle.

Now I realize that I was actually OVEREATING because I felt the need to get more protein into my body. I would drink an extra glass of milk or make sure I ordered double chicken breast when I ate salads, anything to make sure I was eating MORE protein. I was denying the fact that I was overeating just to get more protein.

And it showed around my waistline.

This is how protein guilt can sabotage your weight loss efforts, namely justifying overeating just to get more protein in your diet.

To this day I still struggle with protein guilt (I use it to justify my chocolate milk cravings) but now at least I can eat an apple without forcing myself to have some milk or chicken to bring up the protein content of that meal. Doesn’t this sound crazy?

I’m getting better for sure, but I still feel twinges of protein guilt almost every time I eat. If you’re anything like me you know exactly what I am talking about.

If you live in any modern industrialized society you most likely already eat enough protein without even thinking about it. Even though I now know better, this protein guilt still bothered me enough that I researched and wrote an entire book about protein just to ease my mind about how much protein I really needed to build muscle while losing body fat.

I know this sounds a bit extreme but this was the only way for me to get over my protein guilt. Fortunately for you I’m done writing the book and you can get the final answer about protein without having to do all the research and write your own book.

So if you want to find out how much protein you really need to build and maintain lean muscle and your fat burning metabolism, and if you want to know the TRUTH about protein supplements, post workout protein, and protein guilt, then you need to check out my new book “HOW MUCH PROTEIN”

Brad Pilon is a nutrition professional with over eight years experience working in the nutritional supplement industry specializing in clinical research management and new product development. Brad has completed graduate studies in nutritional sciences specializing in the use of short term fasting for weight loss.

His trademarked book Eat Stop Eat has been featured on national television and helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat without sacrificing the foods they love.

Still want a High Protein Diet?

How Much Protein to Build Muscle?  Try using this formula used by the American College of Sports Medicine to find out how much is suggested for someone who seriously lifts weight on a regular basis:

Body Mass Weight (Kg) x (between 1.2grams and 1.7 grams = Daily Protein Requirement

(You simply divide pounds by 2.2 to get the equivalent in Kilograms. So 150 pounds is 68.18 Kg) and then multiply by 1.2 to get the low end and multiply by 1.7 to get the high end .


A man weighs 160 pounds 160 / 2.2 = 72.72 Kg

72.72 x 1.2 = 87.26 (Low end)

72.72 x 1.7 = 123.63 (high end)

So, therefore our 160 lb body person should be shooting for 72 to 124 grams of protein in his daily diet.

PS: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine in their book "Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy ,Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty acids, 

Chlesterol, Protein and Amino Acids"  suggests a recommended daily allowance (RDA) of  0.8g of protein/kg of body weight or 0.4g/lbs. Therefore a 160 pound person would need 160 x .4 = 64 g protein.   This seems to be more than enough protein  for 99.9% of  the population.

What if you're trying to build more muscle? Shouldn't you eat even more protein? Not necessarily. There's been evidence that bodybuilders, much like exercisers or athletes, do require more protein but that any more than double the RDA won't necessarily help you build more muscle. In one study, experts studied three groups of weight lifters: A low protein group (0.86 g/kg), a moderate protein group (1.40 g/kg) and a high protein group (2.40 g/kg) and found that, "There were no effects of varying protein intake on indexes of lean body mass."

Think Protein per Calories to keep the Fat Off

What percentage of protein to build muscle but keep the fat off?   

Calculating Protein as a Percentage of Total Calories

Another way to calculate how much protein you need is by using daily calorie intake and the percentage of calories that will come from protein. To do this, you'll need to know how many calories your body needs each day.

After you've figured out your maintenance calories, next figure out what percentage of your diet will come from protein. The percentage you choose will be based on your goals, fitness level, age, body type and metabolic rate. Most experts recommend that your protein intake be somewhere between 15 and 30%. When you've determined your desired percentage of protein, multiply that percentage by the total number of calories for the day.

For a 160 lb female, calorie intake=2000 calories and using the protein amount as determined earlier in the low end suggested

n=87 grams(see above) = 87g x 4 calories/g =348 calories of per day This 348 calories divided by total calories of 2000 calories  = 17.4%:
(Since 1 gram of protein = 4 calories.)

No matter what your calculations are, remember that there are no magic foods or supplements that can replace the right training and the right diet. The foundation of any program, whether your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle, is a combination of strength training and a healthy diet that includes carbs, with a balance of protein and fat.  

In the example above we learned that 17.4% protein from calories = 87 grams for 2000 calories or 87/2000 = .043 g protein per calorie. therefore any thing more than this amount would be considered a protein source.


Target of ______% of calories from proteinAnything above this number is a protein source.

What food has the most grams of protein for the fewest calories? Here is a list of foods aranged in order that tell you what foods are highest in grams of protein per calorie:

How Much Protein to Build Muscle - Calorie Chart