It’s hard to answer the question of how much protein you need to build muscle and lose fat. It’s fairer to say that you have to follow some key steps that include protein in your diet. You see, there is nothing concrete about protein intake.
There are always variables involved. This goes for all of the macronutrients. Once you learn these, you can move forward with confidence.
Benefits of protein
Protein is often called upon when people are looking to bulk up and lose weight. For the former, protein is the macronutrient that repairs muscle fibers after they have been torn in workouts. In this case, it stands to reason that you’d want to know how much protein you need in order to build muscle mass.
Those looking to lose weight rely on protein for a different reason. When you eat high-protein foods, they digest slowly in your stomach, causing you to feel full for a longer period of time. The theory is that you will eat fewer calories overall and lose weight.
If you combine these ideas together, you have the ability to build muscle and lose weight at the same time, which is good news. But the bad news is, you still haven’t figured out how much protein you need in order to build muscle and lose fat. The answer is not that simple.
The way you live your life is going to vary from other people. You might be very active but not lift weights. Someone else might lift weights and not be very active outside the gym. And someone else might lift weights and be active outside the gym, but have horrible eating habits.
All of these factors contribute to how much protein you need. But there is a systematic way to take out some of the guesswork.
According to the Harvard Medical School, adults should aim for 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight a day. If you weigh 200 pounds, for example, this would come out at 72 grams. But this is the average basic intake. If you look at the variables above, you might need more based on your activity levels.
Considerations to take into account
Overall, it is easier to take this approach. Keep a journal and track your protein intake for five days. Don’t try to follow the recommended protein guidelines, either. Just track what you normally eat.
Add all the totals together and divide by five. You’ll then have an average daily intake. For example, let’s say you consume 60, 80, 90, 70, and 75 grams. This comes to a total of 75 grams per day. Now add 10 grams to this total so your new daily intake is 85 grams.
Use this as a baseline and take measurements of your body fat percentage and muscles. Keep this information handy.
Monitor your progress
Start doing a workout program four or five days a week that consists of weight training and cardio. In two weeks, get your body fat and measurements checked again and see where you’re at. If you’ve lost fat and gained muscle, then keep your protein intake where it is. If you have not changed, up your daily protein intake by 10 grams.
Repeat this process every two weeks until you start to gain muscle and lose fat. Once you have and you’re satisfied where you are, keep your intake where it is for maintenance.
It is best to eat in windows of time and also to space out your protein intake. For example, eat between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and split your protein into multiple meals. This makes it easier to eat the right amount of protein, plus your muscles will get a steady supply of amino acids.
If you are aiming for 85 grams a day, break it up into four servings of 22 grams. It is also best to make your meals balanced, with protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
The next time the thought of how much protein you need to build muscle and lose fat passes through your brain, you should have the information you need to get where you want to go. As you can see, there is no set-in-stone answer. But as long as you are willing to be patient and do a little legwork, you’ll be on point.