One (of the many) reasons i love hitting the gym is so that i can build copious amounts of rock hard chiseled muscle. To me, the perfect physique is one which is athletic, toned, and firm; and in order to get this physique and build muscle, protein is essential. I am always conscious of getting adequate amounts of protein in my diet (it ain’t easy since most protein sources are raw and need to be cooked, like meat, poultry or eggs) Since my workout routines consist of heavier weight bearing exercises, in which my muscles tissues are constantly in need of protein (to repair them), I need a slightly higher protein intake than a sedentary person or average gym goer. Everyone requires different amounts of protein depending on their body weight, body composition, physical activity level, type of activity, carbohydrate intake, and whether they are injured.
When I lift weights, I always aim to lift till my muscles fatigue; meaning I am shaking by my last rep or cannot complete the last rep. When you lift till you can no longer complete your last rep, you are tearing your muscle fibres. In order for these muscle fibres to repair and increase in size, they need protein. If you do not get enough protein your muscles will not grow, or the repair process will be stunted. When I am trying to build muscle I consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. However, if you are not lifting to your limit or do not exercise often, then consuming about 15% protein of your total caloric intake will suffice (which is around .45-.5g of protein/lbs of body weight).
I always wondered whether our bodies have a protein threshold. How much protein can I consume before my body cannot metabolize anymore? Does it turn excess into fat? Can I load on all my daily protein requirements into 2 meals, so i don’t have to worry about cooking eggs or waiting for my chicken to bake after a gruelling day at school? Well, I found out that our bodies do in fact have a protein threshold. Muscles are only able to convert around 30 grams of protein into muscle per meal (this will obviously depend on your body weight, but I’d say around 50-60 grams of protein max for an average to muscular male). So eating a 20 oz steak for dinner every night is not going to give me bulging muscles; however, distributing my protein requirements over the course of the day will benefit my muscle building goals. 4 oz of chicken breast, lean beef, or fish have around 30 grams of protein. So, eating 3-4 oz of these protein sources 3-4 times a day is ideal. Our body doesn’t really use protein for fuel, rather it uses it to repair/build muscle or for emergency situations (i.e. starvation). So, if we have inadequate amounts of protein, our body will start stripping away at already existing muscle, which we obviously do not want because it defeats the purpose of working so hard at the gym. If our body has too much protein, it will use as much as it needs for repairing and fuelling muscles, and converts the rest into fat cells. Consuming excessive amounts of protein can be quite detrimental, leading to dehydration as well as kidney problems, and it can also cause us to lose calcium through urine excretion. So just be mindful of how much protein you intake. If you are bodybuilding, then increase your protein intake to maximum 2 grams/lbs of BW, but please do not over do it!
Also, just a quick tip: Carbs are proteins inseparable best friend. Carbohydrates enhance protein synthesis which means you should couple carbs with protein post workout for stellar muscles!
After a workout your body is like a sponge, so, the protein you have post workout is absorbed really fast because the body is in dire need of it. The protein will help repair your muscles and the carbs you couple with it will allow the protein to be better absorbed! Aim at getting a 4:1 carbohydrate protein ratio!