The recommended protein intake from the US RDA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your ideal bodyweight.
This is approximately 0.36 grams of protein per pound of ideal body weight.
This is not enough protein to make optimal progress. Why?
Let's look at an example. I am 5'11” tall and my ideal body weight according to some so-called expert is 172 pounds.
I am supposed to eat about 62 grams of protein per day according to the US RDA.
I actually weigh 230 pounds. I have around 200 pounds of lean muscle mass, and the US RDA still recommends that I only eat 62 grams of protein each day.
First of all, actually suggesting an ideal body weight for everyone is ridiculous.
Everyone is different. There is no ideal bodyweight number for every person.
Some people are in great shape at heavier body weights and some people are in horrible shape at lower body weights.
It's All About Body Composition
Being healthy really is all about body composition — the way you eat and whether or not you exercise regularly.
How much muscle do you have and how much fat do you have?
That's the real measure of success — not body weight. Do not use body weight as a measure of your success… ever.
I built the muscle mass that I have and improved my body composition through a much higher protein intake than recommended by the RDA.
I doubt that I'd ever come close to improving my body by eating the recommended US RDA intake of protein!
You are reading this right now because you want to increase muscle mass, burn fat from your body, be fit, and be healthy. You want to improve your body composition.
If you want to make the fastest muscle building and fat loss progress, you will increase your protein intake!
Let's learn more…
This is Why You Need More Protein
Let's look at a quote from one of the world's greatest researchers on protein intake:
“Exercise causes substantial changes in protein metabolism. In fact, recent data suggests that the protein recommended dietary allowance may actually be 100% higher for individuals who exercise on a regular basis. Optimal intakes, although unknown, may be even higher, especially for individuals attempting to increase muscle mass and strength.” — Dr. Peter Lemon
And you are attempting to increase muscle mass and strength if you are reading this course…
So, your protein intake is definitely going to be much greater than the US RDA.
The Building Blocks of the Body
Protein is the building block for your body. Just as wood is used to build most homes, protein is used to build your body.
Muscle, bone, skin, hair, fingernails, toenails, and connective tissue all require protein.
Protein is only second to water when it comes to abundance in the body. Protein makes up around 20% of your body weight but up to 70% of that protein is located in the muscle you are looking to build — the skeletal muscles.
Protein consists of amino acids. A protein is formed when several amino acids join together.
Different types of protein can be built with different chains of amino acids.
There are a total of 20 amino acids that can be chained in different configurations to build different proteins.
Our bodies can make 11 of the 20 amino acids. You must supply your body with the other 9 amino acids through the food that you choose to eat.
Here are the 9 amino acids that you have to supply to your body:
The 11 amino acids that your body can produce are:
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
Now, you don't have to memorize all of those. I just want you to know the names of the amino acids that make up a complete protein.
A complete protein will include every one of those 20 amino acids in the perfect amount to be used by the body for building muscle.
When you supply your body with complete proteins throughout the day, you will have the best chance to build muscle.
Complete proteins will usually come from meats, but you can also get complete proteins from dairy products and through a combination of incomplete proteins.
How often do you need to feed your body complete proteins?
Protein cannot be stored in your body — carbohydrates and fat can be stored.
You can't eat protein early in the day and then hope that protein is available later that night for building muscle.
You need to eat a source of complete protein every 3 hours throughout the day.
By eating a complete source of protein every 3 hours, you ensure that your body has the building blocks it needs to build muscle.
Before bed time, you should provide your body with a source of complete protein for use during sleep. Never interrupt your sleep to eat protein.
Sleeping is the only time that you will go longer than 3 hours without protein.
Some Incomplete Proteins You Should Know
Some incomplete sources of protein include beans, grains, legumes, and nuts. All this means is that one of those 9 amino acids needed by the body is not included in that food.
Incomplete sources of protein must be combined with other sources in order to form a complete protein. You need to ensure that you are eating complete proteins every meal.
Meat, eggs, milk, and protein powders are examples of complete proteins.
You'll get an extensive list of the best protein sources a little later, so don't worry too much right now about sources of complete proteins. The only people who will have to work extra hard to get complete protein sources will be vegans.
They will have to combine multiple incomplete protein sources to form complete proteins. Combining beans with grains will do the trick.
How much protein do you really need each day to build muscle?
I'm going to make this easy for you. You will need to eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each and every day.
The easiest way to calculate your protein intake, though, is to make it a percentage of your diet. You'll learn more about this later, but for now, let's go through a quick example.
Let's say you want 40% of your calorie intake to be protein and your calorie intake is 3000 calories:
40% of 3000 is 1200 calories. Protein consists of 4 calories per gram. This means you need 300 grams of protein per day for this example.
Don't worry about the calculations for now. You'll learn more about easily calculating your needs later.
You can even experiment with higher protein intakes up to 2 grams per pound of body weight once you are more experienced. Then, you can say whether or not an increased protein intake really helps you to build more muscle.
In my experiences and tens of thousands of others, increasing protein intake will help you to build more muscle. When you increase protein intake, you need to increase water intake also.
You've got to increase water intake because waste products are produced when protein is broken down by the body. Increased water will help your kidneys get rid of these extra waste products.
Ensure you strictly follow the water intake guidelines for this program.
If you do decide to experiment with high protein intakes — higher than the recommended one gram per pound of body weight, ensure that you do not stay on this increased protein intake for long periods of time.
Cycle your protein intake over the weeks if you decide to try 2 grams per pound of body weight once you gain more experience.
The Best Protein Sources
Here's a list of the absolute best complete protein sources available:
- Organ Meats
- Lamb, Mutton, Hogget
- Whole Eggs
- Cottage Cheese
- Raw Milk
Insider secret: The best meats are meats from wild sources. For example, the best beef is beef from cows that have been out on a pasture eating grass instead of a cow being fed grain.
The meat tastes so much better too!
Another example is salmon that has been caught from the wild instead of salmon that is being farmed. The nutrients in the meat are much, much better in meat from wild sources.
Another example is wild deer meat. The animals are eating the healthiest sources of food in the wild and nothing processed or not meant for their bodies.
Ensure that every meal you eat includes complete sources of protein or at least a combination of foods that form complete proteins.
Each meal should be spaced approximately 3 hours apart. This means you are providing a constant supply of protein to your body for building muscle.
Remember, your body cannot store protein for use. That's why you have to provide complete proteins every 3 hours. By doing so, you ensure that your body has the building blocks it needs to build muscle.
We don't know when our bodies will decide to build muscle.
What if the body doesn't have the building blocks it needs to build muscle when it's ready? You will not build muscle if this happens. All of your hard work in the gym right down the drain.
Make sure that you are feeding your body protein every 3 hours except while you are sleeping. Do not interrupt your sleep to eat protein.
You want protein available to the body when the body is ready to do some serious muscle construction.
You Can Try Lower Protein Intakes
I'm all about being efficient. If you can make progress with a lower protein intake, then do it!
I've tried lower protein intakes and had trouble building muscle.
Make sure you watch what you eat because less protein will mean more carbs or more fats.
Only eat the best sources of food possible.
Eating less protein will save you some money, and I'm all for that.
If you're serious about building muscle and aren't sure how much protein you need, please stick with the 1 gram per pound recommendation on this page.
It works for building muscle.
Here's where you are at Weight Lifting Complete
You're currently within the WLC System section here at Weight Lifting Complete. Here are the next pages you might want to see: