Some may think that consuming more protein (i.e., > 1 gram per pound of body weight) is necessary to build more muscle, but this is contrary to the research. One of the most common bro-science discussions about protein is what proteins suppress muscle protein breakdown. When looking to increase muscle mass, athletes should look to optimize the anabolic response by increasing muscle protein synthesis
HOW MUCH PROTEIN TO CONSUME DIETING VS BULKING [BASED ON SCIENCE] ARTICLE SUMMARY
- How much protein to consume while dieting is based on bodyweight. A high protein diet for body recomposition will be needed to prevent loss of lean muscle mass. Athletes should consume >1.4 grams per pound of body weight.
- The optimal protein intake for muscle growth is close to 1 gram per pound of body weight; further increases do not build more muscle.
- When dieting, focus on high-protein foods for weight loss and muscle gain. More protein will be needed to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass. Athletes should consume >1.4 grams per pound of body weight.
- Leaner athletes need more protein to preserve lean muscle mass during a cutting phase.
CAN YOU BULK AND CUT AT THE SAME TIME?
Athletes often wonder if gaining muscle and losing fat simultaneously is possible. Check out the bulk or cut Reddit thread for some discussion topics. You can cut and bulk at the same time, but check out the article here on the factors that influence bulking and cutting at the same time.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN TO CONSUME WHILE BULKING
A caloric surplus makes it easier to gain muscle. A highly detailed scientific paper on offseason dieting for bodybuilders suggested that bodybuilders looking to gain muscle while minimizing excessive fat gain should consume:
- Calories: A slightly hyper-energetic diet (~10–20% above maintenance calories) to gain ~0.25–0.5% of body weight per week.
- Protein: Protein intake is recommended to be .7–1 gram per pound of body weight per day, focusing on sufficient protein at each meal (minimum of 20 grams) and even distribution throughout the day (3–6 meals).
- Fat: Fats should be consumed at moderate levels, neither too low nor high (.2–.7 grams per pound of body weight per day), to prevent an unfavorable change in free testosterone ratios and prevent reductions in testosterone levels.
- Carbohydrates: After calories have been devoted to protein and fat, the remaining calories should come from carbohydrates while ensuring sufficient amounts are consumed (≥1.3–2.2 grams per pound per day).(1)
WHY IS PROTEIN IMPORTANT FOR MUSCLE GROWTH?
Some may think that consuming more protein (i.e., > 1 gram per pound of body weight) is necessary to build muscle, but this is contrary to the research. One of the most common bro-science discussions is what source of proteins suppress muscle protein breakdown.
There is no difference between whey protein and casein for building muscle. To increase muscle mass, athletes should optimize the anabolic response by increasing muscle protein synthesis. Limiting protein breakdown is an ineffective strategy for increasing muscle mass.(2)
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED TO BUILD MUSCLE?
In a meta-analysis of the literature (i.e., 49 studies with 1863 subjects) on protein and muscle hypertrophy, protein intake above 1.6 g/kg/day (.8 grams per pound of body weight) failed to increase muscle growth with resistance exercise.(3)
Many women do not eat enough protein while dieting, and when they switch to a high-protein diet, they usually write how eating more protein changed my body with greater fat loss and muscle. High-protein diets have pros and cons. A high protein, high fiber diet can suppress appetite and provide a better sensation of fullness.
PROS AND CONS OF HIGH-PROTEIN DIET
The cons of a high protein diet are that it can reduce your appetite, so if you are trying to consume more calories, keeping protein close to 1 gram per pound of body weight may be helpful. It has been found that resistance exercise training requirements are higher on training days than on non-training days.
On training days, protein requirements to maximally stimulate protein synthesis were 1.7 g/kg/bw (.7 grams per pound of body weight) to 2.2 g/kg/bw (1 gram per pound of body weight).(4)
Most male bodybuilders eat up to 4.3 g/kg/ (2 grams per pound of body weight) per day, and female bodybuilders eat 2.8 g/kg/day (1.3 grams per pound of body weight); this is quite high compared to the research. Resistance-trained men who consumed a protein of 4.4 g/kg/per day (2 grams per pound of body weight) gained the same lean mass as those who consumed 1.8 g/kg/day (.8 grams per pound of body weight).(5)
Consuming protein at 3.4 g/kg/day (1.5 grams per pound of body weight) resulted in no greater increases in lean mass than those consuming 2.3 g/kg/day (1 gram per pound of body weight).(6) 1 gram per pound of body weight is a good threshold for protein intake to gain lean mass. Further increases in protein will not increase lean muscle mass.
It may be beneficial to consume a high-protein meal plan with a whey protein drink or a drink with whey protein combined with other multi-nutrient ingredients to enhance lean mass. A review of 11 studies with over 192 participants in well-trained subjects found that whey protein alone or as part of a multi-ingredients formula enhanced lean mass and strength compared to an equal-calorie carbohydrate beverage.(7)
HIGH PROTEIN, LOW-CALORIE MEAL PLAN
While dieting, a higher amount of protein is needed because of a caloric deficit and increased activity levels (i.e., more cardio). Protein requirements during a calorie deficit depend on the degree of caloric restriction and the starting body fat of the person starting the diet.
CRASH CALORIE, HIGH PROTEIN MEAL PLAN FOR WEIGHT LOSS FEMALE DIET PLAN
Crash calorie diets are very common for women who need to drop body fat fast. Diets such as the 7-day protein diet plan for weight loss, 2-week high protein diet menu, and 1200 calorie high protein, low carb diet meal plan for rapid weight loss. A rapid reduction in calories will result in greater muscle loss if someone has less body fat.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN TO CONSUME WHILE DIETING
Many women ask, “does protein build muscle without working out?” Protein will preserve muscle mass while dieting but not build muscle. Many studies have found that high vs. low protein diets are better are preserving/maintaining muscle while dieting.
Protein requirements will be higher for the person starting a diet with lower levels of body fat. This is because the risk of lean muscle mass loss is much greater, whereas the person starting a diet with excess body fat will have more body fat to protect against lean mass loss.(8)
A low-calorie, high-protein meal plan will encourage greater fat loss and muscle retention in someone with more than 30% body fat, whereas someone with 15% body fat will likely lose some muscle. In a review of the literature by Helms et al. he found that 2.3-3.1 g/kg of protein was sufficient, but the needs increased with the leanness and severity of the diet.(9)
WHY YOU NEED MORE PROTEIN CUTTING AFTER A BULK
Many athletes will follow a high protein, high fiber diet plan or a high protein, low carb diet plan for weight loss. The goal is to create a calorie deficit by eliminating high-fat, red meat choices of beef and reducing saturated fats and calories. Many will switch to leaner protein choices such as fish and chicken breasts. The goal is to consume greater protein while cutting back on calories.
So why do protein levels go up when dieting? There is a reduction in muscle protein synthesis with caloric restriction, thus a greater need for protein intake to offset this effect. During caloric restriction, fats and carbohydrates are reduced. As both macronutrients are reduced, more protein is used as a fuel source.(10)
One study found that during a ~20 caloric restriction, muscle protein synthesis was reduced by ~19%, and reduced intramuscular signaling pathways occurred compared to when calories were at maintenance levels.(11) Another study found that protein synthesis was reduced by ~27% after five days of caloric restriction.(12) Most of the studies suggest the decreases in lean mass occurring from caloric restriction occur from decreases in muscle protein synthesis and, to a lesser extent, muscle tissue breakdown.
Thus, protein requirements increase dramatically during calorie restriction. Resistance exercise has a muscle-sparing effect with a calorie-restricted diet. As mentioned previously, a calorie restriction alone results in a ~27% decrease in protein synthesis, yet resistance exercise combined with protein ingestion after exercise restored this process.(12)
Studies on How Much Protein To Consume While Dieting
In a review of the literature on maintaining performance and lean mass during a caloric restriction for track and field athletes by Phillips, Garthe, and Witard.(13) The following factors determine the lean mass loss in track and field athletes:
1.) Severe energy deficits associated with rapid weight loss are associated with greater losses in lean mass.
2.) Individuals who start a diet with more lean mass are more susceptible to losing more lean mass than those with less.
3.) Resistance exercise is the best way to preserve lean mass during a caloric restriction.
4.) Athletes should consume a higher protein intake to preserve lean muscle mass. Athletes should aim for higher-end protein intakes (~2.4 g/kg/bw or 1.1 grams per pound of bw).