Updated: Nov 1, 2019
You want to know your recommended daily protein intake for muscle building, or what foods are high in protein or how much protein is too much?
Well read on and ill tell you everything you need to know about protein!
What Is Protein?
Protein is an important macronutrient and is considered essential for building muscle.
Protein is comprised of several amino acids, which are the organic compounds made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Sulphur.
These amino acids are classified into three groups, which consist of essential, non-essential an conditional:
Essential Amino Acids are those which cannot be made by the body and must be acquired from your diet. The 9 essential amino acids are: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine.
Non-Essential Amino Acids are those which are made within the body. There are 11 non-essential amino acids: Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine.
Conditional Amino Acids are those needed in times of illness or stress. These are Arginine, Cysteine, Glutamine, Tyrosine, Glycine, Ornithine, Proline and Serine!
The amino acids that make up protein are responsible for many effects and roles within the body.
They are the building blocks of protein and are needed for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, hormones, they are involved in cell signalling and many other functions in the body.
How Much Protein Do I Need Per Day?
The NHS recommends a daily protein intake of around 50 Grams per day, and this may be true for most sedentary people just wishing to stay healthy.
However, bodybuilders (and anyone else living an active lifestyle) wishing to gain muscle will probably want even more!
Most sources agree anywhere between 1.2 and 1.7 Grams per Kilogram of body weight is a sufficient daily protein intake and any amount of protein above this is not needed and the benefits diminish rapidly, and may even result in ill-effects.
However, in contrary to this, 2 Grams per Kilogram was shown to be safe for long-term use, even 3.5 Grams of protein per Kilogram was shown to be safe with relatively minor side effects.
However, based on other studies, it seems as though the most optimum daily protein intake in order to maximise muscle protein synthesis has been about 1.6 Grams per Kilogram of body weight.
This doesn't necessarily mean that 1.6g/kg of protein is the universal limit but it is possibly the most "bang for your buck" in terms of muscle protein synthesis!
What Are Some High Protein Foods?
Protein is abundant in many foods and is relatively cheap to get! I have listed some foods below to help you reach your daily protein intake target.
Eggs are a great source of protein and also have a great array of other useful nutrients, such as vitamins & minerals!
Almonds, Cashews and similar nuts are high in protein, the protein in almonds makes up 13% of its calories and 11% in cashews!
Chicken is among the most popular foods which are high in protein, and for good reason too, it is relatively cheap, high in protein, tastes great and easy to cook!
Oats & Porridge is a great meal to start the day with, high in protein, good array of complex carbohydrates and tastes amazing!
Yogurts, Milk and other dairy products are great for getting your daily protein intake in, they are cheap and are good additions to other foods!
Broccoli is among the highest protein rich vegetables and also has a high nutrient density and contains many bio-active chemicals!
Tuna is another great way of meeting your daily protein intake! Protein makes up 94% of its total calories!
Whey Protein and other protein supplements. They are cheap, easy to make and very convenient, just drink it like any other drink and within a few minutes you have just consumed 15, 20, 25 Grams (or more) of protein!
Shrimp is another high in protein food, it is also a very nutrient dense food!
Pumpkin Seeds and other edible seeds are also high in protein, and once again nutrient dense!
How Much Protein Is Too Much?
So, here's a scenario; you've reached your daily protein intake but you still have half the day left.. what do you do? Do you not eat protein? Do you eat protein?
Well you can carry on eating protein as normal, because as shown above it is perfectly safe to eat protein, even up to as much as 3.5 Grams per Kilogram of body weight, acutely!
Which is a lot of protein, just don't do this everyday as that is where the issues come from.
But say you do eat 200 Grams of protein when your used to just eating 50 Grams a day, the worst that will happen is you get an upset stomach and the possible issues that come with this, other than this you are safe!
Overall, 1.6 Grams per Kilogram of body weight is usually agreed upon as being the optimal daily protein intake, sufficient to maximise muscle protein synthesis!