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How Much Daily Protein Intake Is Required to Build Muscle?

Here at ProSource, in all our years of hearing from and advising athletes, probably the most common question we hear is this: Why am I not getting bigger? (Which is to say, more muscular. Hardly anybody wants to get fatter.)

The easy answer is that your body doesn’t want more muscle. Muscle is high-maintenance tissue; it requires a lot of fuel to maintain. Your body will grow more of it, but only grudgingly in response to clear and life-threatening attack (i.e. consistent high-intensity resistance training).

So, in many cases, the answer to athletes’ question is that their training regimen just isn’t threatening enough to the body’s status quo. You have to traumatize muscle to get it to grow. When you do so properly, you partially destroy the muscles in question and the body, recognizing that it must grow bigger and stronger to survive, overcompensates during the repair process, increasing protein synthesis to build larger muscles that can handle the increased stress being placed on them.

Simple enough, right? Now think of your time spent in the gym. Is it traumatic enough? Are your muscles howling in anguish at the physical onslaught you’re bringing to bear on them? Are you literally destroying muscle tissue? Are you doing so on a regular basis so that your muscles must either grow or die? Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you are. Congratulations, your job is just beginning.

Let's talk about protein synthesis. Faced with the destruction of muscle tissue, your cells’ DNA create a map for the sequence of amino acids required to rebuild and (if necessary) increase muscle tissue. Those amino acids are transported to the muscle tissue and bound together by peptide bonds, creating brand new muscle. Those amino acids can come from existing muscle tissue, but then you’re just depleting muscle tissue as your building it, and getting nowhere. In the best case scenario, these new aminos are being provided by adequate sourcing from your diet.

So, are you getting enough amino acids in your diet to increase muscle mass? Many athletes believe they are. And many athletes are mistaken. The U.S. government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for a 180-lb adult male is 56 grams. This is probably on the low side for even a sedentary person. It is absurdly low for anyone trying to add significant muscle mass. In fact, the consensus among sports nutritionists is that highly trained athletes should aim for 0.77 grams of daily protein per pound of body weight. That’s 139 grams for a 180-lb man.


That’s a lot of protein! And the “when” of protein intake is just as important as “how much.” The key to fueling muscle growth lies in spreading out your protein consumption to keep your your body in a positive anabolic (muscle-building) state throughout the day. A single 30-gram serving of protein will trigger a surge of protein synthesis that will last approximately three hours, but any more than that will provide little or no extra benefit. So it goes without saying that consuming most of your protein at a single meal, like dinner, will provide a very small window for growth potential in terms of your entire day. Instead, make sure that each of your three main meals includes an ample-sized portion of protein.

Good sources of animal protein include chicken breast or beef (8 grams of protein per ounce), tuna and most other fish (6 grams per ounce), eggs (6 grams of protein per egg), and milk (8 grams per cup). Animal sources are best, as they contain the complete spectrum of amino acids, including essential aminos that your body cannot synthesize on its own and must access via diet. Legumes, nuts, and grains are also sources of protein (as well as carbs and dietary fiber), but contain incomplete amino profiles. These whole foods, along with healthy fats, should form the foundation of your muscle-building diet.

Of course, you’re going to have your work cut out for you if try to reach your daily intake of 120 to 140 grams of protein per day based on just breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is where whey protein supplementation, in the form of shakes or bars, will save the day. Whey protein actually has a higher bioavailability than beef, chicken, fish or eggs, and will begin appearing in your bloodstream about 15 minutes after you consume it. It is also a supremely portable, convenient protein source for eating on the run or at work. Keeping a canister of protein in your desk, your car or your locker is one of the best things you can do to keep your muscles in an anabolic state between meals, while staving off the cravings that otherwise would lure you into hitting the vending machine or convenience store for a zero-nutrition snack.

Keep in mind that some whey protein is more anabolically efficient than others. Whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate contain more than 90% protein, virtually no lactose or fat, and are superior in generating increased protein synthesis and muscle recovery response. Whey protein concentrate is also a suitable option, particularly for athletes on a budget, but the actual percentage of protein present in WPC can vary widely (from 30% to 90%) depending on processing methods. A superior-quality whey formula like ProSource’s Original NytroWhey will contain 100% whey protein isolate formulated via a high-performance ultra microfiltration method that retains all of its native proteins, peptides and subfractions.


For even greater muscle-building support, you would be well advised to consider ProSource's NytroWhey Ultra Elite, a super-premium formula that combines the highest-quality whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey with other factors that promote muscle repair and recovery. It also contains an advanced leucine peptide technology which provides leucine in a highly bioavailable form ideal for unleashing protein synthesis and subsequent growth.

And your options aren't limited to mix-and-drink protein formulas either. Recent advances in whey protein processing and manufacture have resulted in the first true muscle-growth-supporting protein bars. Indeed, the best protein bars have now earned their place in your gym bag and supplement regimen. Our own ProSource Bars contain a protein blend powered by a blend of highest-quality, ultra-hydrolyzed whey protein and cold-processed, micro-filtered whey protein isolate, and are based on a recipe that emphasizes the most wholesome and nutritious ingredients. 

Whey-protein-based shakes and bars are the missing puzzle piece that can help you elevate your daily protein intake to the levels you must attain to drive real muscle mass gain. Use them pre- and post-workout, along with a nutritious, balanced, protein-centered diet, to lift you out of your growth stagnation and toward your ideal physique.


Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.