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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How much protein should I consume if I am trying to build muscles?

    I am a 20 year old male and would like to put on some muscles so I have been going to the gym at least three times a week. Should I be increasing the amount of protein I consume and by how much?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 7

    Thanks

    Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    Going to a gym three times a week is a good start but what you do in that time is what matters. To start with having good meals is importan. When you begin training very hard the need for supplements may become necessary. You need specific help, one size does not fit all. Go to someone who is not trying to sell you supplements. Also get expert advice on training.

    As an Exercise Physiologist I cannot help but think that you must first create the need for more protein before you supply the need. All the protein in the world will not produce muscle mass without exercise. The exercise must be multijoint and with enough resistance to allow only 8 to 12 reps. I cannot help but reiterate that when more work is done more protein must be consumed. Some studies done with European weightlifters showed that they even consumed 5 gms / kilo of bodyweight and got better results than with 4gms. The figures quoted earlier would be OK for the average person.

  • 6

    Thanks

    Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    Protein is a type of nutrient made up of lots of tiny substances called amino acids (a very small type of protein). Of the 20 amino acids only 9 are essential - meaning that our body cannot make them so we must acquire them from our diet. The best sources of protein in our diet come from foods that contain ALL of the essential amino acids - these are known as complete foods or quality protein as they contain all the protein we need to optimise growth and development. 

    Dietary sources of quality protein include:
    - milk
    - eggs

    Other great sources of protein include:
    - lean meat, fish and poultry (eg. chicken, turkey etc)
    - low fat cheese
    - yoghurt and custards
    - legumes (eg. chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, baked beans etc)
    - nuts and seeds
    - wholegrain breads and cereals

    Despite what many us think - the majority of us get more than enough protein in our diet without the need for supplements. Yes it is true that athletes, including body builders, do require additional protein to support their exercise regime, however, many of us over do it. It is important to remember that the human body has a limit to how much protein it can use everyday.
    This limit has been set at:

                                      2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight

    So, if you are 70kg - 140g of protein per day is your limit. Any more will just be excreted in your urine.  

    In terms of encouraging muscle growth - the timing of your protein intake is just as important as the amount you consume over the day.
    - Always have a pre-exercise and post-exercise snack to encourage your body to use the snack as an energy source rather than your tissue stores (that is, your body muscle and fat stores)
    - make sure the snack contains both carbohydrates and protein . The carbohydrates will be used as the ‘energy’ source while the protein will be available to promote muscle growth.

    For example, a 150g-200g tub of yoghurt, 250ml glass of flavoured or plain milk, 2 eggs on a piece of toast, 150ml liquid meal replacement such as Up & Go etc  

    Remember that a healthy diet is a balanced diet - so try and get your protein from a range of sources.

    For more information on what would make an ideal pre and post exercise snack or a meal plan that will compliment your training regime it may be worthwhile to see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. Best of luck with your training!

    Samantha Ling
    Rostant Nutrition
    (Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RostantNutrition )
     

  • 4

    Thanks

    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Great advice from Sam here! To add the following I find has worked well with my clients, here are my 5 tips for increasing muscle mass:

    Tip 1 - Increasing energy intake

    • In order to gain muscle effectively, a positive energy balance needs to be achieved. This means that what you put into your body must exceed its BMR and physical activity level. Any excess energy available can then be used for muscle growth. 
    Tip 2 – Increase your meal/snack frequency
    •  This will help you to increase your energy intake without having to bulk up your main meals. By increasing your frequency of meals to 5-6 per day you will achieve a steady flow of nutrients/fuel to keep up your energy levels. 
    Tip 3 – Make sure your getting high quality protein
    •  You need to be getting in all the essential amino acids. These amino acids are found in most animal products such as lean meats, dairy and eggs. You need to include high quality protein in each meal, everyday. 
    Tip 4 – Nutrient timing
    •  Pre- and post-workout nutrition is crucial for muscle growth and recovery. Pre-workout snack should consist of moderate to high GI carbohydrates + protein to give you the fuel to get through the session. Post-workout snack needs to contain both carbohydrates and protein to aid in recovery and muscle growth (20-30 g carbohydrates & 10-20 g protein (e.g. tub of yoghurt + fruit; bowl of cereal + milk; sandwich with lean meat & salad). 
    Tip 5 – Be consistent
    •  Try not to skip or miss your meals or snacks as this will reduce your energy intake which will lead to a decline in muscle mass and growth.

    For more expert advice, as Sam has stated, seek the guidance from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) by logging onto www.daa.asn.au and clicking on the “find and APD” tab. Alternatively you may wish to see an Accredited Sports Dietitian, log onto www.sportsdietitians.com.au to find one near you. Good luck with your goals

  • 3

    Thanks

    Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    ◦In order to gain muscle effectively, a positive energy balance needs to be achieved, Some of our elite weightlifters use 4gms per kilo of bodyweight to achieve this positive energy balance. Of course they train 6 hrs a day for six days a week.

  • 5

    Thanks

    Aidan Ma

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Would like to add to the fantastic replies above that the exact amount of protein you need to gain muscles would be approximately 1.2 - 1.7 grams of protein per body weight.

    So for example if you are currently 75kg, you would need between 90 - 127 grams of protein a day.

    To give you a rough idea of approximate amounts of protein in typical serving sizes of certain foods:

    100g cooked Steak Breast - 32 grams
    100g cooked Chicken Breast - 30 grams
    100g cooked Fish - 24 grams
    100% Whey Protein Isolate - average serve (with water) - 25 grams
    1/2 cup of Cottage Cheese - 16 grams
    95g tin of tuna - 16 grams
    1 Cup of Baked Beans - 14 grams
    Two Eggs - 13 grams
    1 and 1/2 cups of Quinoa - 12 grams
    1 cup of Milk - 10 grams
    200g of Yoghurt - 10 grams
    1 cup of cooked rice - 8 grams
    2 slices of bread - 8 grams
    1 cup of pasta/noodles - 7 grams

    However whilst this is all important as Chris Fonda has mentioned above, achieving a caloric surplus and pre and post workout nutrition are equally if not more important in terms of gaining muscle mass. It is best to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian or a Sports Dietitian for more information, as a rough guide calorie intake should be 500-1000 calories above your Basal Metabolic Rate for your age, gender and activity level.

    Carbohydrates have an equally important role in being used as a preferred fuel rather than protein for energy (around 5-6 grams of carb per body weight). The rest of the intake should be made from good fats to complete your caloric requirements. 

    Any further questions don't hesitate to ask.

    Aidan Ma
    DNA Dietitians

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