Optimal Protein Needs for Muscle Gain, Weight Loss, and More
Daily protein intake is a crucial variable to consider when building a healthy and balanced diet. In fact, we’d argue it’s the most important macronutrient when it comes to living a physically active lifestyle.
Protein plays a key role in muscle recovery, growth, satiation, hormone regulation, energy production, and immune function (and that’s only scratching the surface). When you recognize how important this macronutrient is, it’s only normal to then ask, “How much protein do I need?”
In this article, we’re going to discuss five key topics:
- How much protein do I need?
- How much protein do I need a day?
- How much protein do I need to build muscle?
- How much protein do I need to lose weight?
- How much protein powder should I consume?
These key points above will help you begin to find how much protein you truly need on a daily basis. In addition, they should help you contextualize how important it is to customize your goals based on your needs.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The question of “How much protein do I need?” has evolved a lot over the last decade. As our knowledge continues to evolve in the world of nutrition, we continue to improve ranges and amounts that are optimal for various scenarios.
This is why it’s important to contextualize this question and remember that multiple factors can play a role in protein requirements on a daily basis. Factors like dietary goals, age, activity levels, sex, and much more can influence how much protein you need.
Currently, research suggests that consuming anywhere between 1.2g – 1.7g of protein per kilogram (.5g – .8g per lb) of body weight is adequate for active individuals (1). However, it’s important to realize that this is a baseline range that doesn’t account for individual needs and specific goals, so this number can increase and decrease accordingly based on the individual.
For this reason, it’s important to get more specific when considering how much protein you need on a regular basis. A lot of individuals see this range and take it as it is without taking a step further to truly assess what’s ideal for them.
If you truly want to dial in your protein requirements, check out our protein calculator. This calculator will provide you with a rolling protein baseline to get you started, and it accounts for your individual needs and lifestyle.
How much protein do I need a day?
The amount of protein you need in a day will be based on your lifestyle and goals. This number can be found by taking the daily protein requirement you’ve decided upon, then multiplying it by your weight. Let’s look at an example below.
How to Calculator Your Daily Protein Requirements
Let’s say you conclude that you need 1.8g of protein per kg of body weight a day and you weigh 180 lbs. This 1.8g of protein is decided upon based on your activity levels and goals for building muscle.
To quickly convert these numbers into a daily protein requirement, follow the next two steps.
- Step 1: 180 lbs to kg | 180 / 2.2 = 81.6kg
- Step 2: 81.6kg x 1.8g = 147g of protein per day
From here, you would then make it a goal to consume at least 147g of protein a day. This is your daily baseline that you should strive to hit to work towards your goals on a daily basis.
This 147g of protein factors into your daily caloric intake, and you will then manipulate your fat and carb intake to coincide with your daily caloric total. If you can establish a daily protein requirement, it becomes easier to consider total fat and carb intake.
(Need a vegan protein to help you achieve your daily goals? Check out our vegan protein powders.)
How much protein do I need to build muscle?
Protein requirements for building muscle will be higher than standard protein requirements. Research suggests that individuals looking to increase muscle mass and size should aim to consume between 1.6g – 2.2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (2). This range is thought to be ideal for maximizing protein accretion for growth.
When performing muscle-building activities, the body is placed under a strategic and desired stress. This increased stress will then require higher amounts of protein intake to ensure recovery and growth parameters are met. Remember, protein is the building block of muscle.
It’s important to remember that “more is not necessarily more” in this scenario. There is a cap for how much protein is beneficial. However, by elevating daily totals, it can serve as a fail-safe measure to ensure you’re consuming enough to grow, and it has been suggested that higher amounts of protein help mitigate fat gain for active individuals (2).
Protein requirements for building muscle are incredibly important to consider as protein can play a direct role on recovery and growth. To ensure you’re consuming enough to build muscle and lean mass, elevate your daily totals past what’s recommended as the bare minimum.
How much protein do I need to lose weight?
Protein requirements for individuals trying to lose weight need to be higher than what’s traditionally recommended. Research suggests that a range between 2.3g – 3.1g of protein per kilogram of body weight (1.05g – 1.4g per lb) is a good goal for those trying to maintain and promote lean muscle mass while in an energy deficit (2).
When in an energy deficit, protein becomes incredibly important as it can play a fundamental role in preserving lean muscle mass. Since muscle helps burn calories, the goal should be to maintain muscle that’s been gained while trying to lose weight.
If protein falls too low during an energy deficit, then we run into the issue of using muscle for fuel, which is less than ideal for long-term maintenance of a healthy body weight and lean muscle mass.
It’s also wise to seek out a nutritionist or dietician when strategically setting up your macronutrients for weight loss. Weight loss as a dietary goal is complex, so having an objective expert weigh in can help mitigate any personal dietary biases.
How much protein powder should I consume?
Once you’ve established how much protein you need on a daily basis, it’s also important to list the protein sources you plan to consume on a regular basis.
Protein powder is a popular source of protein for active individuals in need of a quality protein source that can be consumed quickly and nearly anywhere, but how much of our daily intake should come from supplements?
We like to recommend limiting protein supplements to account for no more than 35% of your daily protein intake. This means that supplements can account for 35% or less of your daily protein intake.
If we looked at the above example, then we would write out:
- Protein Supplementation Range: 147g x .35 = 51g
Contextually, this would mean that protein supplements could account for 51g of our daily intake. This amount is roughly two daily shakes, which would be perfect for active individuals consuming one post-workout shake and a shake as a snack or before bed to boost daily protein intake.
The amount and type of protein powder supplements you choose to consume on a daily basis should reflect your goals, lifestyle, and wants.
Configuring daily protein requirements can seem complex, but once you establish your individual baseline metrics, staying consistent becomes easier over time.
Check out the Promix Protein Calculator now to unlock your personal protein needs! If you have any questions regarding our products and how they enhance your lifestyle, visit our FAQs page, or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to follow Promix Nutrition on instagram for the most up-to-date announcements and more posts to educate and inspire you.
(1) Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association, 109(3), 509-527. NCBI Website. Published 2009. Accessed Sept 2020.
(2) Tanner Stokes, Amy J. Hector, Robert W. Morton, Chris McGlory, and Stuart M. Phillips. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients, 10(2), 180. NCBI Website. Published Feb 2018. Accessed Sept 2020.