It is known to every gym buff or newbie that when it comes to building lean muscle the two pre-requisites are to lift weights and eat more protein. After all, protein is the whole and soul of muscle building and also helps in muscle recovery. But what many of us are unaware of is the quantity of protein required to see visible muscle gain. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this essential nutrient – the building block of life itself. Everyone’s protein requirements depend on age, weight, activity levels, and fitness goals. Workouts also become important because without activating your current muscles, you will not be able to see any visible results.
But we have some good news for you! According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the recommended protein intake for optimal gains should be between 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight ( with the inclusion of strength and endurance training). So if someone weighs 150 pounds, their daily protein intake should be 75-120 grams.
Though to some this may seem like a lot and impossible to achieve, it is totally doable if you are eating enough protein with each meal and munching on some protein-rich snacks throughout the day. It is also important to eat enough protein throughout the day so that your body has enough amino acids to build muscles. Our body uses amino acids to build and repair tissue, including muscle. By eating enough protein you ensure that you have enough amino acids to build and repair muscles. But the protein turnover i.e the process in which your body uses protein to build lean muscle will not be possible if you do not undertake resistance training.
A study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming more protein before or after a workout can boost physical performance, ais in recovery and subsequently increase body mass. If you are aiming at 100 grams of protein a day then along with 25 grams of protein per meal, you will also have to eat two snacks with 12.5 grams protein each, says Jim White RD and Exercise Physiologist for ACSM. Tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, and seeds are some of Jim’s prescribed foods for quality protein.
Instead of blindly depending on takeaways, in order to get enough protein meal prepping becomes very essential. Stock up on protein-rich snacks and groceries and plan your meals and snacks for the week ahead. But all this will not pay off if you don’t hit the weights rack at least once a week.
At the end of the day, the only way to see a definite change in the scale is to eat more. Though some might find it helpful to increase portion sizes, this technique may leave others feeling uncomfortably full. In the latter case, try eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day instead of sticking to the big three. Keep tabs on your protein intake by tracking it throughout the day with the help of a calorie/protein calculator. This will help you to figure out what your needs are and how to spread them out throughout the day.