How much protein do I need?

Ever thought to yourself ‘how much protein do I need?

And the answer is…

…it depends

Let’s go through it. The first thing we need to find out is how much lean mass we have; muscle, ligaments, organs, bones, etc. We need only take into account lean mass as these are the structures that need protein, body fat does not.

How do you work out how much lean mass you have? First, you would need to know your body fat percentage. There are a few ways to find this out. One option is skinfold testing, for which, you would need a qualified professional.

Then there is bioelectrical impedance. Machines that passes a small amount of electrical current through your body,

The latter is the least accurate.

From one of these, you will derive your body fat percentage. Again one will be more accurate than the other but it’s a good starting point.

Knowing your body fat percentage we move onto the next part of the puzzle. Subtract your body fat percentage from 100 to get your lean mass percentage.

Here is an example:

100 – 25 percent body fat = 75 percent lean mass.

Divide your lean mass percent by 100 to calculate the decimal for your lean mass percent. Here is an example: 100 / 75 – .75

Multiply your lean mass decimal by your total body weight to calculate your lean mass weight. If you weigh 175 lbs, multiply 175 by .75 for 131.25 lbs. of lean mass.

And there you have your lean mass.

So how much protein do you need for that lean mass? Before we answer that we must ask ourselves what is the goal?!

Are you focusing on fat loss or building muscle and size? I ask because we need different protein amounts in each phase.

Here is where most people get it wrong; when in a fat loss phase you actually need more protein per lb/kg of lean mass! And when in a building size/muscle phase, less.

The reason being as you get leaner and leaner during fat loss muscle breakdown is an issue. So we want to guard against it! More protein will help not only keep and repair muscle but aid hunger reduction. A bonus when dieting for weight loss.

When we are building size and in a calorie surplus there will be more insulin in our system. Which is the anti-muscle breakdown hormone. And we get to have more calories coming from carbs and fats. Which are our energy macronutrients!

This is good because we are more fuelled for our workouts and are in a position to achieve more weight lifted. [More weight/volume equates to getting stronger and ergo more muscle].

In a fat loss phase, you are looking for around 2.5g of protein per kg of lean mass.

In a weight gain phase, you are looking for 1.6g of protein per kg of lean body mass.

Then to optimize muscle growth, you would want to split this total protein intake over the day. 4 equal servings being optimal 3/5 absolutely fine.