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How Much Protein Do I Really Need To Build Muscle?

How Much Protein Should I Eat?

Proteins are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. They provide our body with energy and essential amino acids that can help us achieve our fitness goals. Protein requirements can vary greatly depending on individual needs. Read on to find out more about the benefits of protein for muscle building.

Understanding Protein and Its Benefits

Along with carbohydrates and fats, proteins are one of the three main nutrient groups. They are made up of many amino acids which the body uses to build its own proteins, including muscle mass, enzymes, and hormones. As the basic building block of all cells, proteins also help to build new cells and repair existing ones.

Protein also plays an important role as a source of energy, especially if the body’s preferred energy source (carbohydrates) are low.

The body cannot store much protein so it’s important to eat protein regularly. For an optimal protein supply, it is important to use high-quality protein sources. Both animal and plant sources are suitable for this.

Factors Affecting Protein Requirement

The daily protein requirement varies from person to person and depends on various factors such as age, gender, activity level and personal fitness goals.

For example, athletes have a higher protein requirement than people who work at a desk during the day. People who want to lose weight also benefit from a protein-rich diet, since protein helps to regulate appetite and improve satiety and fullness.

Recommended Protein Intake Guidelines

The Swiss Society for Nutrition recommends a minimum daily protein intake of 0.8g per kilogram of body weight for healthy adults under the age of 65. 10-20% of the daily calorie intake should be taken from proteins. For people who work out or want to build muscle, this should be increased to 1.5g per kilogram of body weight, and for older people 1g per kilogram of body weight.

Assessing Your Protein Needs

There are various methods of calculating individual protein requirements. A simple way is to use your own body weight (kg) x 0.8, or 1.5 if you are active.

There are also helpful online calculators that can calculate protein needs based on individual factors. An example is the protein requirement calculator of the German Society for Nutrition.

Meeting Your Protein Needs

The following protein sources are suitable for covering the daily protein requirement:

Animal protein sources:

  • Chicken, turkey, beef
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs and dairy products

Vegetable protein sources:

  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain products

Dietary supplements:

  • Whey protein powder
  • Vegetable protein powder

High protein meal ideas:

  • Tofu scrambled eggs with vegetables
  • Chicken breast with quinoa and vegetables
  • Lentil soup with wholemeal bread

Snack ideas:
Almonds and dried fruits, hummus with vegetable sticks

Tips for increasing protein intake:

  • Opt for whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates
  • Add nuts and seeds as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal
  • Protein shakes are a good supplement if the protein requirement cannot be met solely through diet

Monitoring and Adjusting Protein Intake

To avoid deficiency or excess, it is important to monitor protein intake. Typical symptoms of protein deficiency show up, for example, in tiredness, muscle weakness or a drop in performance. People who are vegan or vegetarian need to be extra careful to get enough protein from other sources like legumes, tofu, or dairy.

Excess protein intake, on the other hand, can put strain on the kidneys and lead to weight gain as excess protein is converted to fat. With a protein-rich diet, care should therefore be taken to ensure that you consume enough fiber and healthy fats.

For a healthy supply of high-quality proteins, protein intake should always be adjusted to individual goals and your own body signals.