How Much Protein Do You Need for Bodybuilding?

Protein is the lifeblood of bodybuilding. A whole business is constructed round the concept that bodybuilders want a lot of protein all the time; significantly earlier than, throughout, and after their exercises. And within the morning as quickly as you get up. Oh, and proper earlier than mattress, too. 

The one-gram-per-pound rule is as near bodybuilding law as something can get (aside from “rerack your weights,” in fact). However is that determine the end-all, be-all of protein consumption for bodybuilding?

 A bodybuilder preparing a protein shake.
Credit score: ALL greatest health is HERE / Shutterstock

Because it seems, issues aren’t fairly that straightforward. If you wish to maximize your outcomes in the weight room and construct one of the best model of your physique, you have to put down sufficient protein. That’s a reality. However is one gram sufficient? Because it seems, it relies upon. Right here is probably the most up-to-date, evidence-based steerage about protein consumption for bodybuilding.

What Is Protein?

Proteins are polymer chains made up of a collection of amino acids that are held collectively by peptide bonds. However except you’re a biochemistry pupil, none of that issues. In the event you’re all for well being, health, or vitamin, all you have to know is that dietary protein is likely one of the three primary macronutrients (the opposite two being carbohydrates and fats).

Every gram of protein you devour from meals comprises 4 energy of vitality. Dietary protein can be important for the creation and upkeep of muscle tissue; you may consider the amino acids inside protein because the constructing blocks of muscle. 

In the event you’re an aspiring bodybuilder who hits it arduous within the gymnasium, you want a lot of protein in your weight loss plan to maximise your outcomes. Resistance training incurs injury in muscle tissue, which is then rebuilt greater and stronger within the hours following a exercise. Protein is an integral a part of that restorative course of. 

The precise quantity you have to bounce again from a session with the barbell, although, is the place issues get tough. 

Protein Consumption for Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is a maximalist pursuit; the muscle-minded aren’t usually all for skating by or doing the minimal. In the event you hit the iron regularly, you’re most likely all for getting the most out of your effort and time: the most muscle gain, probably the most energy, and so forth. 

This naturally extends to your diet as properly and raises the query: What’s the optimum protein consumption for bodybuilding? The reply is determined by your definition of optimum and, extra importantly, whether or not you’re bulking or slicing. 

Defining “Optimum”

There’s a robust distinction between satisfactory and optimum in relation to your nutrition. A bodybuilder’s protein wants differ an excellent deal from these of an individual who doesn’t raise weights

The World Well being Group recommends a daily protein intake of roughly .4 grams per pound of physique weight per day for the common one who doesn’t raise weights. (1) Nevertheless, if that individual have been to start out up a physique half break up or push-pull-legs routine, their previously enough protein consumption would rapidly turn out to be inadequate.

A person sits down in the gym and sips from a water bottle.
Picture by way of: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

That’s the place the thought of optimum is available in — the optimum protein consumption for bodybuilding is no matter quantity gives the best return in your funding within the weight room. That will sound trite, however the specifics matter: In real-world phrases, this implies consuming greater than sufficient protein to facilitate building muscle, however not a lot that it dominates your weight loss plan on the expense of different macronutrients. 

You might want to come at this relationship from the proper angle. Hitting the weights doesn’t allow you to benefit from protein; a high-protein weight loss plan permits you to learn out of your arduous work within the gymnasium. Protein is permissive; the extra plentiful it’s in your weight loss plan, the extra beneficial properties you stand to make (up to some extent).

Protein Consumption for Bodybuilding On a Bulk

In the event you’re on a bulk — which is to say you’re consuming a sustained caloric surplus with the intention of gaining weight — you undeniably want numerous dietary protein to assist all that tough work. Nevertheless, chances are you’ll not want fairly as a lot as you assume.

You’ve most likely heard tales of mass-monster bodybuilders bulking up with 300 or extra grams of protein per day (together with many 1000’s of energy). Nevertheless, an IFBB Professional’s kitchen practices most likely aren’t related for you. Information from nearly 50 scientific papers on protein consumption amongst wholesome adults who interact in resistance coaching confirmed that an consumption of .7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of physique weight was splendid for stimulating muscle hypertrophy. (2)

Why it issues: During a bulk, you might have entry to a surplus of energy from carbs and fats (in addition to protein). As such, your physique is incentivized to “spare” your protein consumption and use it for muscle-building because it has entry to ample vitality reserves elsewhere. 

Protein Consumption for Bodybuilding Upkeep

Bodybuilders generally fluctuate between durations of bulking and slicing, however typically discover themselves consuming at or round their caloric upkeep as properly. In the event you’re neither making an attempt to achieve nor shed pounds, that .7 to 1 gram per pound of physique weight determine nonetheless holds true

Why it issues: At caloric upkeep, your physique works with simply sufficient vitality to gasoline every thing you ask of it. You don’t have energy (or further protein) to spare to build new muscle tissue, however you additionally don’t have to metabolize your dietary protein for vitality. 

Protein Consumption for Bodybuilding On a Lower

The less energy you eat, the extra protein you want. Throughout a fat-loss phase, analysis appears to point that dietary protein ought to turn out to be a bigger a part of your complete caloric consumption. 

Protein has a considerable muscle-sparing impact. In the event you’re placing your self by means of an prolonged caloric deficit, you’re liable to lose muscle mass alongside the way in which should you don’t take precautions. Present knowledge advise upping your protein consumption to the realm of .8 to 1.2 grams per pound per day. (3)

Why it issues: In periods of vitality restriction, your physique is inspired to transform the macronutrients you devour straight into vitality, reasonably than permitting them to carry out different metabolic features. Further protein ensures that you would be able to restore and maintain your muscle tissues when you weight loss plan down. (4)

Protein Distribution and Timing

Outdated-school bodybuilding lore declares that, to maximise muscle protein synthesis (and thus your beneficial properties), it’s important to area out your total protein intake evenly over the course of the day to keep away from “losing” it. 

This concept doesn’t (totally) stand as much as scientific scrutiny. Whereas it’s true that consuming protein acutely elevates muscle protein synthesis, (5) different knowledge exhibits little significant distinction between a couple of high-protein meals or a number of smaller ones. (6)

Extra importantly, there isn’t actually a lot scientific foundation to the concept that consuming “an excessive amount of protein directly” causes you to waste any of it (no matter which means). Your physique will take the requisite time to digest and metabolize the meals you give it. 

What you have to know: Bodybuilders who comply with applicable coaching and nutrition plans don’t want to fret about continually “restarting” muscle protein synthesis; it’s chronically (and sufficiently) elevated by lifting weights. 

In reality, some knowledge even argues that elevated muscle protein synthesis doesn’t straight correlate to hypertrophic outcomes within the first place. (7

The underside line: You most likely shouldn’t eat all of your every day protein in a single sitting, however most current proof signifies that you simply shouldn’t fret over the main points an excessive amount of. 

Advantages of Protein (for Bodybuilding and Extra)

Protein’s permissive position in your vitamin means that you can reap the advantages of your arduous work within the weight room. With out it, you aren’t transferring up a shirt dimension or stepping onto the physique stage anytime quickly. That mentioned, a hearty protein consumption is sweet for extra than simply constructing (and rebuilding) muscle tissue. 

Protein Is Important for Muscle Development

To construct muscle, you want two issues; adequate dietary protein and sufficient calories to “fund” hypertrophy. You’ll be able to, in some area of interest instances, construct muscle within the absence of a caloric surplus (corresponding to should you’re model new to lifting, are overweight, or have been away from the gymnasium for an prolonged time) however protein is non-negotiable. (8)(9)

The “minimal efficient dosage” of dietary protein could also be .7 to .8 grams per pound of physique weight, however going above that benchmark might contribute to extra muscle gain. (10) Nevertheless, count on some severe diminishing returns to return into play when you’re exceeding 1 to 1.2 grams per pound. 

Protein Helps You Bounce Again from Your Exercises

Carbohydrates could be the gasoline supply that powers your coaching, however you’ll definitely discover a degradation within the high quality of your bodybuilding workouts should you skimp out on protein consumption. 

Bodybuilder in tank top drinking protein shake
Credit score: Skydive Erick / Shutterstock

This isn’t one thing you’re prone to discover instantly. In the event you’re used to having a high-carb meal earlier than coaching, its absence would most likely have an effect on your coaching nearly instantly. Nevertheless, the consequences of a low-protein weight loss plan will doubtless accumulate over the course of some weeks as your physique struggles to get better from the accumulation of tissue damage. In the event you hold your protein consumption constant, you might have one much less factor to fret about outdoors the burden room.

Protein Can Make Reducing Simpler

Upping your protein consumption is smart should you’re trying to shed fat and maintain on to your hard-earned muscle. Protein has a major muscle-sparing impact, positive, however a high-protein weight loss plan may additionally allow you to regulate your urge for food.

Dietary protein has a marginal impact in your blood glucose ranges. (11) As such, chances are you’ll not expertise vital starvation pangs should you pack your daily meals with protein. That is additionally a good thing about spacing your protein consumption out over a number of meals should you’re slicing. 

Protein Builds Robust Bones

Strong and healthy bones are vital for each the hardcore bodybuilder and the common gymgoer. Lifting weights is indispensably helpful for strengthening your bones and constructing resilience as you age, however you shouldn’t overlook the significance of your dietary protein consumption as properly.

There’s a veritable mountain of analysis backing the significance of protein for enhancing bone-mineral density and dampening the chance of osteoarthritis and different related circumstances. (12)(13) So, when you most likely down protein shakes for physique-related causes, it’s value mentioning the bone well being advantages that come together with it. 

Greatest Protein Sources for Bodybuilding

All dietary protein, regardless of the supply, comprises 4 energy per gram. Nevertheless, if you wish to maximize your results in the gym, you need to take note of the high quality of your protein sourcing. Some protein sources are better-suited to muscle development than others. 

Food sources of protein.
Credit score: Tatjana Baibakova / Shutterstock

Protein high quality might not make or break your outcomes total, however should you’re making an attempt to nail down each final element of your vitamin, the place you get your protein from issues. 

Poultry, Dairy, & Powders

In case your dietary practices enable for it, nearly all of your protein consumption ought to come from whole-food poultry, dairy, or, in restricted portions, powdered supplements. These meals sources include full amino acid profiles and are significantly laden with leucine.

Leucine is one in all a number of essential amino acids your physique can’t generate by itself, and is a direct precursor to muscle protein synthesis. You’ll discover excessive concentrations of leucine in whey protein powders, hen, complete eggs, and so forth. 

Furthermore, some knowledge exhibits that animal protein sources are inclined to elicit stronger anabolic (as in, muscle-building) responses than plant-based proteins along with having extra full amino acid profiles total. (14)(15)

Greens, Legumes, & Grains

Regardless of being scant on protein density when in comparison with animal merchandise and supplements, you may nonetheless get a good chunk of protein from beans, lentils, grains, and vegetables. That is significantly vital should you’re a vegetarian or vegan bodybuilder

Meals like soybeans, brown rice, or wheat breads might include decrease concentrations of protein and fewer amino acids, however some is best than none. In the event you abstain from animal merchandise, you need to strongly contemplate choosing up a vegetarian or vegan protein powder that has been infused with further amino acids. 

This may help assure that you simply’re each hitting your protein benchmarks and getting high quality protein on a gram-by-gram foundation. 

Your Takeaways

As a bodybuilder, your weight loss plan is simply as vital as your exercises. That is doubly true on your protein consumption, and the precise quantity of protein you want will differ relying in your expertise degree, caloric consumption, and targets.

  • The age-old one-gram-per-pound benchmark continues to be broadly correct, however fashionable analysis has helped add nuance to that guideline.
  • In the event you’re in a caloric surplus, you may get away with a barely decrease protein consumption. Goal for at least .7 grams per pound of physique weight.
  • In the event you’re slicing down and consuming in a caloric deficit, your protein consumption (as a proportion of your complete caloric consumption) ought to go up. Aiming for as a lot as 1.2 grams per pound of physique weight may help you maintain onto muscle tissue.
  • There’s a hierarchy of things that have an effect on your protein consumption. General every day consumption is extra vital than the way you distribute your protein throughout your meals, which is extra vital than the standard of your particular person protein sources or the timing round your exercises.
  • If potential, devour the majority of your every day protein from animal sources or high-quality dietary supplements. Vegetarian and vegan choices are advantageous, however chances are you’ll wish to flip to dietary supplements to make sure you’re getting all of your important amino acids. 

Good Your Protein Consumption

Bodybuilding is all about chasing perfection. You’re making an attempt to construct probably the most muscular, well-proportioned physique potential, in any case. It’s completely pure to wish to maximize your outcomes outdoors of the burden room as properly, and a big a part of that can come all the way down to your protein consumption. In the event you don’t wish to accept “first rate,” you have to get your protein proper — proper all the way down to the final gram. 


  1. Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Professional Session on Protein and Amino Acid Necessities in Human Diet (‎2002 : Geneva, Switzerland)‎, Meals and Agriculture Group of the United Nations, World Well being Group & United Nations College. (‎2007)‎. Protein and amino acid necessities in human vitamin : report of a joint FAO/WHO/UNU professional session. World Well being Group.
  2. Morton, R. W., Murphy, Ok. T., McKellar, S. R., Schoenfeld, B. J., Henselmans, M., Helms, E., Aragon, A. A., Devries, M. C., Banfield, L., Krieger, J. W., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). A scientific assessment, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the impact of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced beneficial properties in muscle mass and energy in wholesome adults. British journal of sports activities drugs, 52(6), 376–384. 
  3. Hector, A. J., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Protein Suggestions for Weight Loss in Elite Athletes: A Give attention to Physique Composition and Efficiency. Worldwide journal of sport vitamin and train metabolism, 28(2), 170–177. 
  4. Longland, T. M., Oikawa, S. Y., Mitchell, C. J., Devries, M. C., & Phillips, S. M. (2016). Greater in contrast with decrease dietary protein throughout an vitality deficit mixed with intense train promotes higher lean mass acquire and fats mass loss: a randomized trial. The American journal of scientific vitamin, 103(3), 738–746. 
  5. Kim, I. Y., Schutzler, S., Schrader, A., Spencer, H. J., Azhar, G., Ferrando, A. A., & Wolfe, R. R. (2016). The anabolic response to a meal containing completely different quantities of protein is just not restricted by the maximal stimulation of protein synthesis in wholesome younger adults. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 310(1), E73–E80. 
  6. Macnaughton, L. S., Wardle, S. L., Witard, O. C., McGlory, C., Hamilton, D. L., Jeromson, S., Lawrence, C. E., Wallis, G. A., & Tipton, Ok. D. (2016). The response of muscle protein synthesis following whole-body resistance train is bigger following 40 g than 20 g of ingested whey protein. Physiological stories, 4(15), e12893. 
  7. Damas, F., Phillips, S., Vechin, F. C., & Ugrinowitsch, C. (2015). A assessment of resistance training-induced modifications in skeletal muscle protein synthesis and their contribution to hypertrophy. Sports activities drugs (Auckland, N.Z.), 45(6), 801–807. 
  8. Murphy, C., & Koehler, Ok. (2022). Power deficiency impairs resistance coaching beneficial properties in lean mass however not energy: A meta-analysis and meta-regression. Scandinavian journal of medication & science in sports activities, 32(1), 125–137. 
  9. Slater, G. J., Dieter, B. P., Marsh, D. J., Helms, E. R., Shaw, G., & Iraki, J. (2019). Is an Power Surplus Required to Maximize Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy Related With Resistance Coaching. Frontiers in vitamin, 6, 131. 
  10. Tagawa, R., Watanabe, D., Ito, Ok., Ueda, Ok., Nakayama, Ok., Sanbongi, C., & Miyachi, M. (2020). Dose-response relationship between protein consumption and muscle mass improve: a scientific assessment and meta-analysis of randomized managed trials. Diet evaluations, 79(1), 66–75. Advance on-line publication. 
  11. Franz M. J. (1997). Protein: metabolism and impact on blood glucose ranges. The Diabetes educator, 23(6), 643–651. 
  12. Groenendijk, I., den Boeft, L., van Loon, L. J. C., & de Groot, L. C. P. G. M. (2019). Excessive Versus low Dietary Protein Consumption and Bone Well being in Older Adults: a Systematic Evaluation and Meta-Evaluation. Computational and structural biotechnology journal, 17, 1101–1112. 
  13. Wallace, T. C., & Frankenfeld, C. L. (2017). Dietary Protein Consumption above the Present RDA and Bone Well being: A Systematic Evaluation and Meta-Evaluation. Journal of the American Faculty of Diet, 36(6), 481–496. 
  14. van Vliet, S., Burd, N. A., & van Loon, L. J. (2015). The Skeletal Muscle Anabolic Response to Plant- versus Animal-Based mostly Protein Consumption. The Journal of vitamin, 145(9), 1981–1991.
  15. Mathai, J. Ok., Liu, Y., & Stein, H. H. (2017). Values for digestible indispensable amino acid scores (DIAAS) for some dairy and plant proteins might higher describe protein high quality than values calculated utilizing the idea for protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores (PDCAAS). The British journal of vitamin, 117(4), 490–499.

Featured Picture: Skydive Erick / Shutterstock

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