Popular practice among athletes aiming to build muscle is to pump up their protein intake, with the misconception among gym circles is that “more is better”. Our bodies can eat a lot of protein, digest it and absorb it, but it doesn’t mean it’s all going to build muscle.
Most athletes exceed their recommendations for protein intake, and to optimize the effects of the hard work put into training it’s important to understand how much protein needs to be consumed at meals.
Daily Protein Needs
Current research suggests that athletes should consume 1.2 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.5 – 0.9 grams per pound). These recommendations are regardless of whether you’re a strength-focused or an endurance-focused athlete.
The upper range of 2.0 grams/kg would be recommended for those with a high training intensity and frequency. If you’re restricting calories, the upper range of protein recommendations would also be appropriate to help maintain muscle mass.
Protein Needs Per Meal
If wanting to breakdown protein needs per meal, aim for 0.25 – 0.40 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. After exercising, you’ll want to consume this amount of protein within two hours post-exercise to increase the muscle-building process.
It’s good practice to spread out your protein intake throughout the day in increments of 10-20 grams at a time, and more is not considered better.