Protein intake of a bodybuilder is more compared to a person living a sedentary lifestyle. This is because they look to gain more lean muscle mass and burn as much calories as they can by working out.
However, it is also found that if too much protein is consumed, it decreases the performance of an individual.
Therefore, it becomes very important that you have a balanced diet, which contains adequate amount of proteins. This is very essential, if you want to see good results from body building.
What is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that is considered very essential for muscle building. (1) This nutrient is found in foods, especially in animal based food products. Protein is a substance that consists of amino acids, which are essential for bodybuilding. (2)
Role of Proteins
Basically, it is formed of compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Proteins are made up of many amino acids. It becomes very essential for the formation of cell structure and proper cell functioning.
There are several functions that proteins assist in, it includes growth of hair and finger nails, stimulates hormone secretion, muscle contraction, transportation of nutrients, carrying oxygen, etc. Yes, protein does play an important role for maintaining the overall body functions and health.It is also very important for body building individuals looking to gain lean muscle mass.
How much protein should you consume?
The recommended daily protein intake for a sedentary individual is around 0.8gm/kg of bodyweight. It is advised because there are several processes performed in the body that require adequate amount of proteins. (3)
The above mentioned protein intake can be considered optimum for non-exercising individuals. But, it might not be enough to balance the protein breakdown process during exercise. Thus, it might lead to losing lean muscle mass.
For bodybuilding individuals that want to find out how much protein should they consume to gain muscle mass? There are several factors to consider such as protein quality, energy consumption, intake of carbs, intensity of exercises and the timing of taking the proteins.
You must keep in mind that if your protein consumption is very low, then it might lead to problems i.e. muscle loss. This is a major concern especially for individuals that are looking to gain muscle mass.
Research does suggest that individuals doing exercises regularly need more protein than the recommended intake. Depending on the type of physical activity or intensity of the exercise, the protein consumption shall be increased to 1.2-1.8g/kg of bodyweight per day. (4)
Insufficient amount of proteins shall lead to increased catabolic activities in the body and make it difficult for the recovery of muscles from exercises. Therefore, it becomes important to increase the protein consumption as suggested above, especially for individuals doing exercises to build muscles.
According to an extensive research, it is also found that increasing the protein consumption by more than 1.8gm/kg body weight does not provide your body with any additional benefits. This is true for individuals that are trying to increase muscle mass through exercises.
Timing for protein consumption
Muscle Maxim recommends having six meals a day. Each meal you eat should be a balanced diet, consisting of carbs, proteins and dietary fats. This shall ensure you consume enough proteins throughout the day.
Consuming a high-protein drink or snack pre-workout and post-workout sessions can give you a great boost of protein. (5) This shall further help you to gain strength during exercise and build more muscles. (6)
Whey protein shakes are recommended before and after working out. You can also plan for protein rich snacks or meals both before and after workout. You can try different foods to find out what works best for you.
Studies also suggest that in order to ensure proper growth and recovery of muscles, protein should also be consumed before going to bed. (7) This shall help you to keep the supply of amino-acids stable in your body throughout the night, which further enhances the recovery process. Slow-digesting dairy products such as caseins are recommended to comply with the muscle protein synthesis in the body, during sleep.
Choose best food sources for proteins
Proteins primarily consists of amino-acids, there are around 20 different types of amino acids. Every protein source that you choose provides you with different combinations of amino-acids in varying amount.
Therefore, it becomes essential to look for different protein food sources, as because food with high-protein content shall consist of different amino acids. This simply means, if you are a chicken lover, you should not eat only chicken six times a day to complete your daily protein intake.
Look for varying protein sources like meat, eggs, fish, cottage cheese, or plant based proteins like legumes, seeds and nuts. Additionally, you can also choose to go for supplements to fulfil your protein needs, like adding whey powder to your breakfast drinks or eating a protein bar.
High-protein foods are generally very low in fiber. Therefore, in order to maintain your fiber intake, you can add foods that are high in fiber and combine them with your protein rich diet to form a good blend and prepare a good meal.