Protein and Bodybuilding

Protein and Bodybuilding: Benefits for Gaining Muscle

Men and women who lift weights do it for many reasons. Most do it to get in shape, others do it to gain muscle. Ask the average guy how to get jacked and he will most likely say you need to take steroids. Are steroids the only way to pack on muscle? No, not really.

Anyone who is serious about gaining muscle should think twice about taking anabolic steroids. There is no quick way to increase muscle mass. No, let me rephrase that. There is only one real way to build QUALITY muscle and that is by training hard and eating the right foods.

In this article, I will explain why bodybuilders need protein and some of the best protein sources.

Sure, steroids will help you pack on muscle fast but much of the muscle you gain will be lost as soon as you end your steroid cycle.

One of the biggest mistakes most young men and women make is that they try to achieve results to fast.

Protein and Bodybuilding- Male Bodybuilder Posing

Bodybuilding is a hard gig and if you want to do things right, you need to adhere to some basics for a while. Once you build a solid muscle foundation you can then look at other options.

Some of you may have heard the term protein synthesis for increasing muscle.

What you may not know is that your bodies organs, muscle tissue, and hormones all require protein to grow and develop properly. Without it, the body can't function. That is why bodybuilders rely so much on protein for building muscle.

There have been repeated studies on the benefits of protein, so even if you are not a bodybuilder you still need protein to stay healthy

Protein is essential for maintaining bone density and muscle. If you are a bodybuilder and want to gain muscle you need more protein than the average person.

You should be eating protein both before and after you train

Getting enough protein in your diet is just as important before you workout as it is after. While you are lifting, your body requires protein to effectively perform something called protein synthesis.

What is Protein Synthesis

Protein synthesis is a process where biological cells produce new protein. The process happens when individual amino acids are joined together in a certain order by a nucleotide sequence in your DNA.

Why Protein Synthesis is Important for Bodybuilding

The rate at which the human body can build muscle depends on two things:

  • Catabolism (muscle protein breakdown)
  • Anabolism (protein synthesis)

Lifting weights is a catabolic process, many people think that the pump and burn they get during a workout is making the muscle grow. The fact is, the muscles grow after your workout.

When you lift weights, you are tearing down muscle fibers and breaking down protein (catabolic process). Training with more intensity creates a bigger catabolic environment.

The muscle building process begins after you have done all the hard work.

After you train, your muscles quickly start the repair process and begin to heal and grow. That way your muscles are prepared to take on an equal or bigger load the next time you lift weights.

Why Bodybuilders Need Protein

Protein is the one essential nutrient that is responsible for building muscle. Protein consists of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, providing your body with adequate amounts of protein will keep your body in an anabolic state which is necessary to build muscle.

Protein increases HGH and IGF-1

Growth hormone is responsible for many different physiological processes including: 

  • Breaking down triglycerides and help eliminate excess adipose tissue
  • Increases calcium retention
  • Increases bone density and muscle mass
  • Reduce the intake of glucose and helps regulate insulin levels
  • Helps maintain proper nitrogen levels within the muscle

If your body lacks nitrogen you will put your body in a catabolic state, if this happens, your muscle will begin to break down protein as an energy source and you will begin to lose muscle. That is why if you want to gain muscle, you need to make sure you get plenty of protein.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Daily protein requirements vary slightly between men and women, men should get 56 grams of protein while women need 46 grams. This requirement is for sedentary people. Bodybuilders need more.

The minimum amount of protein a bodybuilder needs is between 1-1.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.  So, if you weigh 200lbs you need 200-340g of protein every day.

Best Time to Consume Protein

Protein in the morning

Consuming protein in the morning is important because at night your glycogen stores will run low putting your body in a catabolic state (or breakdown). Getting protein first thing in the morning will prevent muscle breakdown.

Protein after you workout

The best time to consume protein is within an hour after your workout, this will ensure your muscles have enough to begin the recovery process. It is important to keep in mind that full muscle recovery can take up to 48 hours.

I have heard to much protein is bad for me is this true?

One of the biggest myths we have heard about protein is that too much is bad for you. This is absolutely false, there are no studies that have shown that too much protein is bad for you, search for yourself and you will not find any.

Muscles Need Quality Protein

The best source of protein you can feed your muscles should come from quality foods. Lean meats, dairy products, and legumes all provide your body with quality protein, plus you have the added benefit of getting additional vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Natural food sources are digested slowly which improves protein absorption.

What About Whey Protein

Without a doubt whey protein has a higher concentration of pure protein, unfortunately, most whey protein products lack essential nutrients you can only get from whole foods.

Protein Food Infographic

Natural Foods Are the Best Protein Sources

Eggs (6 grams protein per 1 large egg)

Eggs are a food staple food among bodybuilders, there are so many creative ways to prepare eggs making it an affordable and versatile food that is packed with protein. Eggs are a low carb food that is loaded with BCAA's and omega 3 fatty acids.

Chicken (21 grams in 3 0z)

Some say organic chicken is better than regular store bought chicken, however, there are no major nutritional differences between organic and regular chicken except for fat content. Organic chicken has 5-13% less fat than regular chicken.

Beef (23 grams of protein per 3oz serving)

Lean beef cuts are an excellent source of protein. Beef is loaded with Vitamin B12, B6, Niacin, selenium, and Zinc making it a well-rounded protein source for bodybuilders.

Pork Chops (20 grams of protein per 3oz serving)

Boneless Pork Chops contain are an excellent source of protein, potassium, calcium, and iron.

Fresh Salmon (17 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving)

Salmon is a lean food source that is packed with omega 3 fatty acids and B12 vitamins. Salmon also contains Vitamin D, Potassium, and Selenium.

Greek Yogurt (23 grams in one 8 oz portion)

Greek yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt, plus it loaded with calcium. One of the other benefits of Greek Yogurt is that it is rich in probiotics which are essential for gut health and a healthy digestive tract.

Cottage Cheese (14 grams in one 1/2 cup serving)

Cottage cheese is a great source of quality protein. It is loaded with casein making it a slow digesting protein. Cottage cheese is a good post workout choice for ensuring your muscles are getting plenty of protein during the recovery process.

Lentils (18 grams in a one cup serving)

For those who are not a big fan of meat or enjoy a vegan diet Lentils are a good source of protein. Lentils contain dietary fiber, iron, potassium and B vitamins. Lentils help regulate blood sugar levels and improve cardiovascular health.


The next time your focus is on gaining lean and dense muscle the most important nutrient you should have at the top of your list is protein. Without it, gaining muscle will be almost impossible. It is a staple among bodybuilders and without it, you cant grow.



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