Bulking up and packing on pounds of muscle is a challenging feat. It requires a multi-pronged approach incorporating strategic nutrition, progressive strength training, and ample recovery. Out of these critical muscle-building pillars, many guys need help with consistently nailing down the dietary aspect.
Getting enough total calories is one thing, but we must supply our bodies with adequate protein to prevent muscle growth from kicking into high gear. Without the amino acid building blocks protein provides, all the heavy squats and bench presses in the world won’t elicit dramatic mass gains. That’s precisely why crafting a customized high-protein diet is essential if your physique goals center on getting jacked, shredded, and as muscular as possible.
This definitive guide walks through everything you need to know about leveraging the muscle-building power of protein. You’ll discover optimal daily protein targets for your weight and activity level and the best whole food sources to start packing in.
Additionally, you’ll gain critical insights on precisely how to time your protein consumption around workouts for enhanced nutrient absorption and muscle growth. If monster mass gains sound appealing, keep reading to learn how a high protein dietary approach fuels faster increases in strength and size!
Why Protein Matters For Building Muscle
Out of the three macronutrients, dietary protein provides distinct benefits that specifically support muscular gains:
Synthesizing Muscle Protein – Protein provides amino acid building blocks that allow your body to synthesize new muscle proteins continually. This enhances muscle protein synthesis rates for accelerated muscle growth.
Repairing Training Damage – Intense training creates microscopic tears in muscle tissue. Consuming protein enables repair and ultimately, enlarges muscles.
Hormone Production – Amino acids facilitate the production of critical hormones like testosterone and IGF-1. These anabolic hormones ramp up protein synthesis and signal more significant muscle growth.
Muscle growth happens with an adequate protein intake. But exactly how much do you need?
Daily Protein Intake Recommendations
The optimum daily protein target ranges based on your weight, training intensity, and goals. Here are the general guidelines:
Sedentary Adults – 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or ~0.35 grams per pound. This equals ~56 grams per day for men and ~46 grams per day for women.
Endurance Athletes – 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram or ~0.5 to 0.6 grams per pound supports metabolic demands.
Resistance Trainers – Preserving and building muscle requires higher intakes – 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram or ~0.7-1 grams per pound.
Aggressive Muscle Building – Upwards of 2.2 grams per kilogram or 1 gram per pound ensures plenty of amino acids to support growth and repair fully.
So, for a 175-pound male looking to build muscle, target ~175 grams of protein daily. Weighing food and tracking intake ensures you hit daily numbers. Time protein consumption appropriately as well.
Optimally Timing Your Protein Intake
In addition to hitting daily protein targets, proper meal and nutrient timing around workouts further enhances the muscle-building process:
Pre-Workout – Consuming 20-40 grams of protein an hour before training maintains amino acid levels and reduces muscle breakdown during exercise.
Post-Workout – Another 20-40 grams immediately after training helps kickstart repair, recovery, and growth – taking advantage of heightened nutrient sensitivity and absorption.
Before Bed – Eating 30-50 grams of slow-digesting protein right before bed provides overnight amino acid delivery – perfect since muscle protein synthesis spikes during sleep.
Following this pre-, intra, and post-workout protein feeding model allows muscles to remain efficiently fueled, priming your body for rapid increases in size and strength.
Best High Protein Food Sources
Focus on incorporating various lean, complete protein food sources into your daily meal plan, including:
Lean Beef and Lamb are excellent muscle-building leucine source that provides iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Target 90/10 ground beef and flank steak.
Skinless Chicken and Turkey – Low-calorie poultry is highly versatile. Combine it with carbs like rice and veggies.
Fish and Seafood – Salmon, tuna, cod, and tilapia pack 20+ grams of protein per 3 ounces cooked. It also delivers anti-inflammatory omega fatty acids.
Eggs and Whites – Loaded with BCAAs that fuel muscle repair and growth. Hard boil eggs for snacks.
Greek Yogurt – An excellent source of complete protein, providing 23 grams per cup. It also delivers probiotics that support digestion and immunity.
Cottage Cheese – The digesting casein protein found in cottage cheese provides a sustained delivery of amino at night. Stock up on low-fat varieties.
Protein Powder – Whey and casein supplements offer a fast-absorbing, slow-releasing blend that complements whole food sources.
When combining your meat, dairy, and other proteins at meals and snacks, hitting daily protein targets becomes straightforward.
[Image: Assortment of high protein foods including Greek yogurt, eggs, salmon and chicken]
Sample High Protein Day Of Eating
Pulling the guidance together, here is what an effective high-protein day of eating supplying around 200 grams of muscle-building protein could look like:
7 am – Preworkout
- 3 whole eggs + 3 egg whites
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 cup blueberries
Provides ~40 grams of protein
9:30 am – Post Workout
- Protein shake
- 1 large banana
Provides ~35 grams of protein
Noon – Lunch
- 8 oz chicken breast
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 cup mixed vegetables
Provides ~50 grams of protein
3 pm – Snack
- Greek yogurt protein parfait
- 30 almonds
Provides ~20 grams of protein
6 pm – Dinner
- 8 oz flank steak
- Sweet potato
- 1 cup broccoli
Provides ~45 grams of protein
9 pm – Before Bed
- Casein protein shake
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
Provides ~25 grams of protein
Building an impressive, muscular physique requires consuming enough protein daily to fuel muscle growth. Aim for 0.7-1 gram per pound of body weight through whole foods like meats, dairy, eggs, and protein powders (expert guidance on optimal protein intake and timing can be found at Broscience). Time 20-40 grams of protein around workouts when muscles are primed for growth. Finally, track macros to calibrate your plan over time.
With a high protein diet anchoring your training efforts, prepare for compliments on how jacked you look. Stock up on chicken, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, protein powder, and other proteins. Avoid going overboard on protein intake – excessive protein can stress the kidneys. But leverage high-protein foods strategically in your meal plan, hitting daily macros for faster muscle gains.
The takeaway is that building an impressive physique is virtually only possible with eating adequate high-quality protein consistently. Supply your body with what it needs. However, dramatic muscle gains emerge. Put this protein guidance into action, designing a complete nutritional plan that complements your mass-building workout efforts. Impressive size and strength increases await!