Building muscle doesn’t require any kind of secret formula. Essentially all it takes is to do anabolic exercise enough to break down muscle fibres, which your body fuses back together using myofibrils (muscle protein strands). These newly fused, repaired fibres are thicker and therefore create growth.
However, muscle growth only occurs whenever muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown. That means you need to consume more protein than your body is breaking down, ensuring your muscles have enough ‘fuel’ to complete the rebuilding process. Our handy protein snack range, which includes the all-new Hype Bar, is designed to help you pack that protein straight back into your body after a workout.
But how much protein do you need? How much is enough to put you into protein synthesis, and does eating more than that offer any benefit?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
How much protein do I need to gain muscle?
Protein should be understood as a nutrient composed of amino acids. These are what contribute to muscle growth - and are what make some protein sources less ‘valuable’ than others. Complete proteins are those that have all of them included, but you can also just eat protein from a variety of sources to ‘complete’ your amino intake.
Scientists are often in disagreement about exactly how much protein you require to build muscle. Studies are inconclusive - but most information suggests that consuming between 1.2-2.2g of protein per KG of body weight per day is the ideal range for muscle growth. For a 70kg man, that means 84-154g of protein daily.
To be clear: building muscle means you need to consume around 1.2-2.2g of complete protein per day per kg of bodyweight. The higher end of that scale is for athletes undergoing intense training whose metabolic rate is very high.
You may also need to eat plenty of excess calories, known as a ‘bulking’ diet - because muscle protein synthesis has to outpace muscle protein breakdown for your muscles to grow. To do that, you need to consume more calories than your body breaks down at its base metabolic rate.
“Why am I not gaining muscle?”
This is a big question and one you would often associate with two things: poor diet or a bad workout plan. However, many factors can impair your ability to gain muscle, including stress, hormones, and other exercises.
Yes, that’s right, not all exercises will help you gain muscle. For example, steady cardio over a long period of time causes catabolism, where your body breaks down glycogen into fuel. When it runs out of glycogen, it begins using other amino acids - eating into your protein stores.
On the other hand, Anabolic exercise puts your body into the anabolic metabolic state we mentioned earlier - where your fibres break down and rebuild stronger.
Stress and hormones introduce cortisol into your body, a catabolic hormone that can inhibit protein synthesis.
Outside of factors that may not be within your control, the main offenders for lack of muscle growth are:
- Not eating enough: you need to consume protein, but also plenty of calories, to gain muscle. This is because your body needs both excess calories and quality, complete proteins to fuel protein synthesis.
- Not working out correctly: catabolic exercises can prevent muscle growth and impair protein synthesis.
- Not resting enough: Resting is a key part of protein synthesis and muscle growth - but it’s also vital for recovery. Poor rest can also increase cortisol levels, adding to catabolism.
Ketogenic diets have been popular lately, but they complicate the muscle-building process. Technically, you can gain muscle by consuming protein and non-carb calories, but it might be far more effort. By reducing carbohydrate intake, your body replaces it with fat as the ‘fuel’ your body uses to exercise. This, in turn, can lead to less energy in your sessions and fatigue that reduces the results of your workouts.
Ultimately, all you need to build muscle is a combination of intense resistance exercise and 1.2-2.2g of protein intake per kg of body weight per day. Try to reduce stress, increase calories and eat quality food that includes lots of micronutrients.
Actually, getting enough protein is another challenge in itself. Finding the time to cook meals and prepare food is difficult - so why not try some of Oatein’s protein bar and gym supplement range? We pack in the protein content to help you reach your goals. Click here to see more.