Protein is a crucial nutrient for everyone, but it holds a special place in the world of bodybuilding. For those striving to build muscle, the question isn’t whether to consume protein, but rather how much to consume, and what the best sources are. This article aims to provide a detailed guide on the exact amount of protein that a competitive bodybuilder needs per kilogram of bodyweight to maximize muscle growth and the best sources of that protein, including grams per serving.
How Much Protein Per Kilogram of Body Weight?
The general recommendation for those looking to build significant muscle mass, including competitive bodybuilders, is roughly 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (1.2 to 2.2 g/kg/d). This range allows for individual variation and is based on maintaining positive protein balance, which is essential for muscle growth.
Here’s a breakdown:
- Maintenance Phase: 1.2 to 1.6 g/kg/d
- Bulk (Muscle Gain) Phase: 1.6 to 2.2 g/kg/d
- Cut (Fat Loss) Phase while preserving muscle: 1.8 to 2.2 g/kg/d
For a 90 kg (198 lbs) bodybuilder:
- During maintenance: 108 - 144 grams of protein per day
- During bulking: 144 - 198 grams of protein per day
- During cutting: 162 - 198 grams of protein per day
Best Sources of Protein
- Chicken Breast: 32 grams per 100g serving
- Lean Beef: 36 grams per 100g serving
- Eggs: 6 grams per large egg
- Greek Yogurt: 10 grams per 100g serving
- Cottage Cheese: 11 grams per 100g serving
- Fish (e.g., Salmon, Tuna): 20-25 grams per 100g serving
- Whey Protein Powder: 20-25 grams per scoop (varies by brand)
- Lentils: 9 grams per 100g serving (cooked)
- Chickpeas: 8.9 grams per 100g serving (cooked)
- Quinoa: 4 grams per 100g serving (cooked)
- Tofu: 8 grams per 100g serving
- Edamame: 11 grams per 100g serving
- Seitan: 25 grams per 100g serving
- Pea or Rice Protein Powder: 15-25 grams per scoop (varies by brand for example LA Whey Gold has 50g per serving but sells out fast so if you see it on this website and in stock, don't think too long)
Points to Consider
- Quality of Protein: It is important to consume complete proteins, which contain all the essential amino acids. Animal sources are generally complete, while some plant sources need to be combined (e.g., rice and beans) to make complete proteins.
- Digestion and Absorption: Some sources of protein are digested and absorbed better than others. For example, whey protein is rapidly absorbed, which might make it an excellent choice post-workout.
- Timing: Spreading protein intake evenly throughout the day can maximise the body’s ability to use that protein for muscle repair and growth.
- Caloric Intake and Macros: Consuming more protein will not result in more muscle if you are not consuming enough total calories or if the other aspects of your nutrition are neglected. Bodybuilders need to consider their overall macronutrient and caloric goals.
For a competitive bodybuilder, tailoring protein intake to individual goals, body weight, and phase of training is key. While the exact amount may vary slightly from person to person, a general guideline is to aim for 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Choosing high-quality sources of protein, considering the timing of protein intake, and aligning this with overall nutritional goals will set the foundation for effective muscle building and peak performance.
Note: It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet, especially when aiming for extreme muscle growth as a competitive bodybuilder.