You may have asked yourself, how important is protein for muscle growth? Unfortunately, the fitness industry has promoted protein as being the number one thing necessary for muscle growth. In this article, we are going to discuss protein’s importance on muscle growth.
I used to be one of those people that bought into everything that the fitness industry was selling. I bought the perfect pushup thinking it would turn me into a beast. When P90x came out, you bet I was one of the first people to buy the DVDs.
For context, I was ridiculously skinny, and people loved to make fun of how thin my wrists were. I needed a quick fix, NOW!
Unfortunately, no quick fix ever came. I educated myself, and ended up building 20+ pounds of muscle in my first year.
In this article, we are going to discuss the principles of muscle growth. How important is protein for muscle growth? Let’s find out.
Protein alone means nothing for muscle growth
Notice how I said protein ALONE. For example, if all you ate was protein and nothing else, chances are, you would lose weight rapidly.
That is because TOTAL calories matter more than protein intake. What do I mean by that? Well, when you are working on muscle growth, you need to be ok with the fact that your body needs to be in a constant state of caloric surplus. You cannot build muscle while in a caloric deficit.
Protein is definitely the most important of the 3 macronutrients when it comes to building muscle. But, if you aren’t eating at a caloric surplus, your body will not prioritize muscle building. Building muscle comes last for your body, so that is why being in a constant state of caloric surplus is a necessity.
Steps you can take to make sure you are in a caloric surplus
In order for us to build muscle, we need to be in a caloric surplus. But how do we know we are in a caloric surplus? What can we do to absolutely ensure that our bodys are primed for building muscle? These 3 steps will make sure that you are ready.
Step 1: Calculate your maintenance calories
You are going to need to know what your maintenance calories are before you even get started. You can use our guide to calculate your maintenance calories. This will really help you dial in what your body is currently at.
A quick overview looks like this. Monitor every single calorie you put in your body for 2 weeks (14 days). After those 14 days, if you haven’t gained or lost any weight, divide your total calories for those 14 days by 14, and there you have it. Your daily maintenance calories.
An example is something like this. You ate 35,000 calories over a 2 week period. You did not gain or lose any weight. Then, you divide 35,000 by 14, and you come to the conclusion that your daily maintenance calories are 2,500 per day.
Step 2: Eat over your maintenance calories every day
Now that you have calculated your maintenance calories, it is time to start eating OVER your maintenance calories on a daily basis. It is important to note that every person has a different maintenance calorie goal. This is why I urge everyone to do the exercise in step 1 before committing to this.
Start by eating 500 calories per day over your maintenance calorie goal. Using the example from step 1, if our daily maintenance calories are 2,500 per day, we will now want to eat 3,000 calories per day.
Step 3: Weigh in every week
Before you even start any of this, you are going to need to weigh yourself every week. The best time to do it is in the morning, right when you wake up, after urinating. This will give you the most accurate weight.
You are trying to put on muscle, so if you aren’t gaining at least a half pound per week, you need to up your calories. If you are eating in a caloric surplus, you will gain weight no matter what. Even if you aren’t working out.
This is why it is so important to workout. Your body is going to either convert your extra calorie consumption into fat or muscle. Since you are here for muscle growth, be sure to workout 3-4 times per week.
Step 4: Record and tweak
Make sure that you are recording everything that you do. This includes your daily calorie intake, the workouts you are doing, and your weight. Use an app like MyFitnessPal to record what you eat.
Constantly be tweaking your calorie intake in order to make sure that you aren’t gaining more than a half pound per week.
I remember one time when I started learning about calorie intake, and I gained 3 pounds in a week. It became very clear to me that I was eating more calories than necessary, and my body was converting that overage of calories into fat.
I was able to tweak those calories and slow down my growth to a half pound per week. If you think that a half pound per week is not good enough, consider this: gaining a half pound per week is 26 pounds in a year! That is a lot!
Doing the right workouts for muscle growth
On this site alone, we have multiple free workout plans that will get you started. Plans like 3 days a week workout for lean muscle. Or maybe you might like our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass.
It doesn’t matter how you cut it, working out is absolutely necessary for building muscle. Weight training specifically. As I mentioned previously, as long as your body is in a state of caloric surplus, and you are doing weight training, you will build muscle. It is that simple.
For those who would rather follow along in an app, download All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). We have FREE muscle building workout plans for 3, 4, and 5 days per week. If you are looking for the plan that I personally created that helped me put on 20+ pounds of muscle, it is in this app! It is called 3 DAY OVERLOAD.
Main Point: How important is protein for muscle growth?
You came here for the answer to a specific question. How important is protein for muscle growth? It is very important, but not as important as overall calories. If you want to build muscle, you are wasting your time if you are eating at a caloric deficit.
I know this hardship personally because I myself spent years working out at the gym, and I didn’t even know that I was eating at a caloric deficit. I just thought that if I drank protein shakes and worked out, the muscle would magically appear.
Be sure to learn about calculating maintenance calories. Remember that every single person is different, so you have to put in the work to find out your personal maintenance. Only then, can you start eating at a caloric surplus.
When your body is in a constant state of caloric surplus, you are creating an environment for muscle growth. Obviously, you also must workout regularly for your muscles to start growing. Otherwise, you will see your body turn that caloric surplus into fat.
What are your thoughts on this? How important is protein for muscle growth? We would love to hear from you!