It’s no secret that men and women need to eat a lot of protein per day to gain weight, but how much is enough? How much is too much or too little? Everyone is different, but there are some guidelines you can follow to know how much protein you need per day to gain weight.
Weight trainers know that muscles actually get bigger outside of the gym. What happens is that while you’re in the gym, you tear and damage your muscles due to lifting weights. In order to grow them, you need to consume protein immediately after you workout and at various points throughout the day. Why? Because protein is the building block of muscle that repairs it after exercise. So the question remains – how much protein per day to gain weight?
If you’re an inactive and sedentary individual, then you do not need to consume as much protein as someone who strength trains. An inactive person needs to consume approximately .8 grams per kilogram. A kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds. With that formula, a 200 pound man (90.9 kilograms) would need to consume 90.9 kilograms x .8 = 72.7 grams of protein.
It is important to note that protein needs differ based on gender. Men need much more protein than women. A man who strength trains 3-5 times per week should consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Women should consume approximately .75-1.0 grams per pound of body weight. Those amounts should be enough to repair damaged muscle fibers. Any more protein would simply be excreted into the urine.
Some individuals consume more protein than they need. This is an example where too much of a good thing can be harmful. Too much protein consumption over time can be taking on the kidneys and the liver and can lead to permanent damage. The amounts of protein should be consumed throughout the day in intervals. As mentioned, the most important time to consume protein is within 30 minutes post workout. If you wait too long or do not consume a high protein meal at all, your body will start to use its existing muscle fibers to repair itself. The result is muscle depletion and a decrease in strength.
To figure out how much protein to consume per meal, let’s go back to our formula. Let’s say a 200 pound man works out 3-5 times per week. He should intake 1-1-5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That means he should be ingesting 200-300 grams per day. Split those 300 grams into five meals and that averages 60 grams per meal. By consuming protein all throughout the day, you avoid reaching muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy results when your muscles are starving for nutrients including amino acids and protein. This is deadly in terms of muscle growth and strength. When you constantly feed your muscles, they stay fueled.
It can be difficult to get that much protein using whole foods like chicken, eggs, fish, and lean red meat. One of the best ways to regulate protein intake is to drink a whey protein shake. Most strength trainers drink 2-3 protein shakes per day. These shakes are low calorie, healthy, convenient, and economical. Whey protein is best because it is absorbed quickly into the body. Some people choose to drink casein protein at night because it absorbs slowly into the body over time. That is a good thing, but you still want to make sure you consume whey protein after you workout because of the quick absorption rate.
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