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Can a high-protein diet help me build muscle?

High-protein diets can help athletes build muscle depending on the type of protein consumed and the type of exercise being performed. The USDA recommends individuals get .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. Athletes involved in heavy strength training, bodybuilding, or power sports, such as football, can safely consume up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day if they have normal kidney function. Lean animal meat, dairy products, and eggs are the best source of complete proteins; complete proteins have all of the essential amino acids required for muscle function.

Vegetarians will have a more difficult time maintaining a high-protein diet because plant proteins often lack certain amino acids. A higher variety of proteins becomes more important to ensure complete amino acid absorption. It is important to remember that if you are increasing your protein intake, you should also increase your fluid intake (hydration) to help your kidneys process the extra protein.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Appalachian State University Athletic Training Education Program.)

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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.