Chances are you’re not eating enough protein. If you’re a hard training individual interested in gaining some muscle mass then I can just about guarantee that you’re not getting in enough protein. Let’s take a look at some protein recommendations and why nearly all of them are dead wrong for a man who trains. Let’s start with the RDA. Now you already know I’m not a big fan of government health recommendatiosn whether it’s the USDA “fat & stupid” pyramid or they’re recommendation to jog, not eat fats, and essentially do everything you can to castrate yourself. It’s almost like they don’t want people to be optimally healthy or something.
Anyways here’s the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of protein 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram or 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight. While that may be enough protein to keep your body from falling apart as you walk it’s hardly optimal for…well for anything. You’re going to have a very time perserving any muscle mass with such low protein intake not to mention overall be weak and frail. Now that is raised a little bit for someone who is exercising but even with it being doubled it’s not going to be enough to faciliate muscle perservation (let’s not even talk about growth).
So How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?
Jay Campbell has a handy chart that gives the basics of how much protein you need for muscle growth. It’s common bodybuilding knowledge that you need at the very least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (total weight – fat = lean body mass) to perserve muscle. To grow muscle this is usually bumped up to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. But even that can be low especially for guys in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s (meaning the majority of the training population). Where for muscle gain you need to eat around 1.25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (with some doing best with a little higher protein intake). For those in their teens you need around 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to facilitate muscle growth.
I remember eating everything under the sun during high school to put on some weight for football and having a hard go of it. Muscle is expensive and the younger that you are the more protein you need to build muscle. So if you’re looking to put on muscle you need to be eating 1.25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. So that means if you weigh 240 lbs then you need 240 grams of protein a day. And I’d add with the vast majority of it coming from whole food sources not just sucking down protein shake after protein shake (although they can be used supplementally).
You Need To Measure
Now you may think “Hey I eat steak and eggs for breakfast, chicken for lunch, tuna for dinner, topped off with Greek yogurt for dessert I’m all good”. However you’ll never know unless you actually weigh your food and keep track of how much protein that you get in everyday (you’re going to be surprised). For example I have a hunk of meat with every meal of the day as well as Greek yogurt and eggs every day yet was falling anywhere from 40 to 60 grams under some days. I was surprised to say the least, I don’t eat like a bird and figured there was no way I wasn’t hitting my protein requirements.
But I wasn’t and I would have never known if I didn’t take the time to measure out my food. I know that sounds like a really tedious task but it’s pretty simple. Just buy a food scale place it by wherever you cook and whenever you pull out meat to cook slap it on there and see how much it weighs. Then just Google the protein content. The great thing about meats is many come with the weight on the package. So if you buy chicken thighs weighing 1.23 lbs you can just Google “how much protein in 1.23 lbs of chicken thighs” and you’ll have your number. My bet is you’ll going to have to eat more than you have been.
“A Small Petting Zoo Everyday”
I’ve always eaten plenty of meat but since really dialing in my macros and diet I was talking to a friend and was telling him “Man I thought I ate a lot of meat before but now it feels like I’m eating a small petting zoo everyday” and that’s how it should be. If you’re a guy weighing over 200 lbs you should be eating pounds of quality meat every day. Yes pounds. The best sources for protein are grass fed beef, cage free chicken, and wild caught fish. Though because of cost reasons I’ll go to a local store and get their 10 lb bag of chicken for 25$ from time to time as well.
Also while I don’t recommend overdoing the protein shakes, they make a great addition to lots of good healthy whole foods. Getting in an extra 30-50 grams of protein can really help with hitting your macros for the day. One or two protein shakes a day should do it. Remember the majority of your protein should be coming from whole food sources. Once you get into the habit of hitting your macros everyday you’ll be a much better judge of how much protein you need. After adding in the protein I was missing I have been making some steady gains after having stalled out for awhile.
You’re not getting enough protein. If you’re looking to build muscle you need 1.25 grams per pound of bodyweight (not lean body mass). To ensure that you’re getting in enough you need to measure out how much protein you get at every meal and make sure you’re hitting your numbers everyday. You’ll probably feel like you’re eating a “small petting zoo” everyday like I did. When you start hitting these numbers (and keep training hard) you’ll be rewarded with an increase in lean body mass and all the good things that go along with it. So make sure you’re getting in enough protein everyday.
If you have any questions you would like to see answered in a future post send them to me at charlessledge001 (at) gmail (dot) com. If you found value in this post then I would encourage you to share this site with someone who may need it as well as check out my books here. I appreciate it.