Summary of Method
The amount of protein you need depends on the amount of muscle you carry now and the amount you can expect to gain. These amounts vary widely. The method used in this blog is based on basic principle of physiology.
Most sports scientist use body weight as a major criterion of protein need. This is flawed because individuals of the same bodyweight differ widely in body fat. Body fat doesn’t need protein for support. The amount of protein you need is the amount which will maintain your current lean weight, plus the extra amount required to grow new muscle.
You have to know how much lean muscle you have and body fat. Lean weight includes all the structure of your bones, nerves, circulatory system, tendons, ligaments, skin and all your organs. A rule of thumb is that muscle weight is only one-third of lean weight in average women, and less than half of lean weight in average men. Athletes have a higher muscle to lean weight ratio than average non-athletes. For most athletes muscle weight is 50% of lean weight in men and 35% of lean weight in women.
Example for an athlete:
Male athlete weight 18o lbs with 11% body fat
Body fat is 20 lbs (11% x 180 lbs)
Lean weight 160 lbs (180 total weight less 20 lbs of body fat)
Muscle weight 80 lbs (50% of 160 lbs)
Example for a non-athlete:
Female weight 160 lbs with 32% body fat
Body fat is 51 lbs (32% of 160 lbs)
Lean weight 109 lbs (16o total weight less 51 lbs of body fat)
Muscle weight 35 lbs (109 lbs x 33%)
How much protein to MAINTAIN existing lean weight
Your body replaces lean weight at various rates depending on the tissue. For example, skin is replaced every 15 days whereas muscle is replaced every 6 months (180 days).
Muscle has one of the highest protein content of lean tissue at 21% of its total mass. Muscle also requires more protein than other lean tissues for the metabolism of replacement. According to Dr. Michael Colgan’s twenty years of analysis, he has direived a figure of 1.27 times the structural protein of current leans mass as the amount of protein you have to eat in six months to maintain your existing lean weight.
Example of athlete (see above):
Amount of lean weight 160 lbs
Protein content of lean weight 33.6 lbs (160 lbs X 21%)
Amount of protein required to maintain existing lean mass 42.67 lbs every six months (33.6 lbs X 1.27)
Amount of protein needed daily over 180 days 3.8 ounces or 108 grams (42.67 lbs x 16 oz per pound = 682.7 ounces / 180 days = 3.8 ounces per day) (42.67 lbs x 453.6 grams per pound = 19,355.11 grams / 180 days = 108 grams per day)
How much protein to GAIN lean weight
Unlike the amount of protein needed to “maintain” lean weight, on average you’ll need 8 times the protein to build new muscle and the other new lean tissue that grows to support it.
Example of athlete above:
Muscle weight 80 lbs
Goal to gain muscle in the next 6 months at 10%
New muscle gain goal 8 lbs (10% of 80 lbs)
Additional weight gain including lean connective tissue 10.67 (8lbs x 1.33)
Gain in ounces in 180 days 171 (10.67 x 16 oz/lb)
Amount of new gain, that is protein, needed per day .2 oz or 5.7 grams (Only 21% is protein, 171 x 21% / 180 days = .2 oz) (1 oz = 28.34 grams, so .2 x 28.34 = 5.7 grams)
Amount of protein needed per day 1.6 oz or 45 grams (8 times needed to grow new lean weight x .2 = 1.6 oz x 28.34 = 45 grams)
Final amount of total daily protein needed to build new lean weight 153 grams (108 grams to maintain plus 45 grams to build = 153 grams)
Table of Daily Protein Required for Drug-Free Weight Training
I programed the formula used above to easily find the amount of protein you’ll need to consume daily to support healthy lean weight gain.
What’s the best protein to use?
Biological value (BV) measures the amount of protein retained in the human body per gram of protein absorbed. As you can see the best protein to use is whey protein.
Source of all data: Dr. Michael Colgan, The Right Protein for Muscle And Strength