Can eating more protein make muscles bigger?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Depends on how much you are eating now. If you are eating Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein and resistance training intensely, then yes, up to a certain amount, more protein can add to your muscle building. If you are not resistance training, no amount of protein will make your muscles bigger unless you are recovering from atrophy (muscle loss) due to a diseased state, surgery or severe dieting. Exercisers and athletes generally have a higher protein requirement than their sedentary counterparts. Additionally, proper timing of protein ingestion around the workout (30 minutes before and immediately after) and spread evenly throughout the day can dramatically enhance exercise-induced results. If you are trying to gain muscle use The Sharecare Fitness Application. It designs the ideal athletic menus individualized for each person including proper protein requirements, meal timing and complete food plans. Simply fill in your personal statistics and create your program. As a simple “rule of thumb,” if you consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, you will cover all your protein needs and more will not add more muscles. So if you weigh 175 LBS, consume 175 g of protein spread evenly throughout the day including before and immediately after training. Below are the protein recommendations for exercisers and athletes:

Strength Athletes/Off-Season Bodybuilders
  • Minimum acceptable intake -- 1 g/kg/d of body weight
  • Adaptation period  -- 1.6 to 2 g/kg/d
Active Recreational Athletes
  • Minimum acceptable intake -- 1 g/kg/d of body weight
  • Adaptation period -- 1.2 to1.8 g/kg/d
Endurance Athletes
  • Minimum acceptable intake -- 1.4 g/kg/d of body weight
  • Adaptation period -- 1.6 to 2.0 g/kg/d
The active recreational athletes' category also includes other competitive athletes not attempting body composition changes. The adaptation period is defined as significant physiological changes occurring due to participation in a new regime, progressive intensity, or high-intensity training. The adaptation period presumes that factors affecting protein requirements may be additive. Athletes participating in aerobic and anaerobic (mainly strength training) activities may need intakes at the upper end of the ranges.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.