If you are looking to build muscle, or lose fat, you have undoubtedly heard about the benefits of protein. It seems that nearly everyone seems to think that more protein means faster muscle gains. I am going to give you the straight truth on protein intake as it relates to your muscle building nutrition plan.

As with nearly everything, there are individual differences that come into play when determining the correct protein intake for you. First and foremost is your lean muscle mass. Please notice that I did not say your “weight.”

Muscle is largely compromised of protein, while fat is not. As muscle breaks down and rebuilds it requires protein to do so. Fat does not. For this reason you need to look at your lean body mass (LBM), not your body weight, when determining your protein intake.

To determine your LBM you will need to have your body fat percentage tested. Let’s say we have a 200 pound man who has a body fat percentage of 15%. This would mean that he has a LBM of 170 pounds (200 * 85%).

A good guideline for most people who are lifting weights regularly is to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of LBM. Exactly where you fall in that range will be determined by a variety of factors.

The first factor is your goals. If your goal is simply to maintain your lean muscle mass then you can move towards the lower end of the range, whereas someone trying to gain muscle would move towards the higher end.

Another factor is your hormonal profile. There are many hormones that will dictate the correct protein intake for you, but one of the most important is testosterone. Testosterone dictates how much protein can be utilized by your muscles. Someone with very high testosterone levels can utilize much more protein than someone with lower levels. This is why anabolic steroids (testosterone derivatives) are so effective (albeit dangerous).

While these factors are important in determining the correct protein intake for you, the main factor is the make-up of the rest of your diet. For example, someone consuming 3000 kcal from fats and carbs will need less protein than someone consuming 1500 kcal. So if you are on a hardcore muscle building nutrition plan where you are eating everything in sight, you will actually need less protein. Conversely, if you are on a low-calorie diet your protein requirements will be higher.

These are just some of the factors that go into determining your daily protein needs. Remember that proteins are just the building blocks for muscle. Without a well-designed training program you won’t be able to put these building blocks to good use.

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