Common question. Here are some guidelines for lifters.
Stimulate Muscle Protein Synthesis
Every bro that hits the gym asks this question, but what they really mean is, "How much protein should I eat to maximize muscle gain?"
What lifters want is to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. In a post-training state, muscle protein synthesis is elevated and the cells are primed for the uptake of amino acids. At this point the stage will be set for gains.
So how much protein should you eat each day to maximize muscle growth? First off, eating excess protein beyond what's needed to maximize muscle protein synthesis does not accelerate muscle growth. The bro that's telling you to "just eat a ton of protein" isn't completely wrong, but he's not completely right either.
What science has shown us is that excess calories from protein don't easily get stored as body fat, but they also don't increase the rate of muscle growth. There's no way to accelerate muscle gains faster than what your genetics will allow unless you put your body in an enhanced anabolic state with steroid use.
You can't force-feed muscle growth via excess protein. If your weight training sessions are causing an adaptation response, and you're in a calorie surplus overall (somewhere between bodyweight x 16-20 calories), and your protein intake is adequate, then you're going to be growing as fast as you can grow.
There are no shortcuts here, but there are some optimal ways to use protein intake to maximize what mom and pop gave you:
- A gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day will cover just about everyone, regardless of age or experience, unless you're kids-point-at-you-at-the-store fat.
- Around 40 grams of whey protein post-training will maximize muscle protein synthesis.
- A slow digesting protein containing casein before bed is a good idea to keep muscle protein synthesis elevated throughout the night.
What Does That Look Like in a Day?
Three squares of approximately 30-40 grams of protein at each meal. A post-training shake of 40 grams of protein. Then 20-40 grams of casein before you hit the sack. If you're eating in a calorie surplus, and that surplus contains carbs – as it should – then there will be a little protein that comes along with those carb sources. Those count too.
Getting enough protein often isn't the issue for most guys who aren't growing. It's often a lack of overall calories and training intensity that's holding them back. Once all of those things are in place... boom. Gainz.