How To Increase Protein Intake for Muscle Growth + The Best High Protein Foods

How To Increase Protein Intake for Muscle Growth + The Best High Protein Foods

clock-circular-outlinePosted 12 Jul 2023

If building muscle is your goal, then it certainly demands more than just an extensive workout program. Whether your goal is bigger legs or a leaner physique, a significant aspect of muscle growth that cannot be ignored is protein – the building block of our muscles.

But what does protein do? And how much protein should you be eating to build bigger, stronger muscles?

In this article, we'll explore the importance of protein, how to increase your protein intake for optimal muscle building, and the best protein sources to include in your diet. 

Understanding Protein and Muscle-Building:

Muscle growth, or hypertrophy follows a simple cycle – muscle fibers are broken down through exercise and resistance training. After this, the body attempts to rebuild the muscle fibers, leading to bigger and stronger muscles.

Protein supplies the necessary amino acids, the fundamental building blocks for muscle tissue. Getting an adequate amount of protein allows your body to repair and rebuild damaged muscle fibers, leading to a much-desired increase in muscle size.

Regularly consuming inadequate amounts of protein in your diet may have a negative impact on recovery times and the overall quality of the muscle tissue after being broken down. Not only could this stunt muscle growth, but it could also lead to muscle tissue injuries.

So protein is a vital part of repairing after a tough workout. If you're not sure what exercises to include in your workouts, head over to our conditioning area.

How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscle?

There is still plenty of debate regarding the optimal amount of protein to consume for muscle growth.

The recommended amount of protein intake varies greatly; however, a systematic review of over 49 studies concluded there was no additional benefit to consuming more than 1.6g of protein per kilogram of body weight (per day).

The exact amount of protein needed to build muscle effectively is still very much up for debate and naturally can vary depending on the individual, their training style, and intensity, amongst other factors.

Another study found that 1.6g - 2.2g of protein per kilogram of body weight was effective in bodybuilders looking to increase size and strength, with protein intake spread out across meals throughout the day at 0.40–0.55 g/kg/meal.

As always, when making dietary changes, it's always recommended to consult a healthcare professional or a certified nutritionist. 

4 Tips To Increase Protein Intake For Muscle Growth

There's no denying that increasing protein intake can be difficult at first, especially if you previously consumed less than optimal amounts of protein.

Here are four tips to help you hit those protein targets:

  • Spread Out Your Protein Intake

  • Eat High-Quality Protein Sources

  • Find a Proin Shake You Love

  • Add High-Protein Snacks To Your Diet

Spread Out Your Protein Intake

Distribute your protein consumption evenly across all meals during the day. Doing so will maximize protein synthesis and make it easier to hit higher protein intake goals.

Typically, breakfast has lower protein – so a great tip is to eat higher protein foods earlier in the day, rather than leaving it to a last-minute evening rush to hit your protein goals.

Eggs, chicken sausages, protein oats, and shakes are all great high-protein foods to eat at breakfast time for a macro boost.

Eat High-Quality Protein Sources

Including high-quality protein sources that are dense in protein makes it much easier to hit your protein goals each day without eating excessive fat or calories.

Opting for lean meats and dense protein sources such as fish, chicken, lean beef, and eggs are always a good option over higher calorie foods.

We've included a list of the best protein high-protein foods below to help you get creative with your meals!

Find a Protein Shake You Love

We've all tasted a protein shake that is unbearable to drink. But trust us when we say there are some great-tasting protein shakes on the market.

We all have our own taste and texture preferences, however, finding a protein shake you actually enjoy drinking will be a massive help in your goal of increasing protein intake.

Protein shakes can significantly boost your protein intake. Whether consumed after your workout, or throughout the day to boost protein in-between meal times. 

Add High-Protein Snacks To Your Diet

Choose protein-rich snacks over sugary ones to keep a consistent intake of protein in your diet. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and protein bars are all excellent options to include between meal times to boost the amount of protein you consume each day.

The Best Protein Sources for Muscle Growth:

There are plenty of high-protein foods to choose from, and getting creative with tasty combinations can be a fantastic way to increase protein intake easily.

1. Lean Meat: Chicken breast, turkey, and lean cuts of red meat are high in protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

2. Fish: Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna are excellent protein sources.

3. Eggs: A whole egg offers about 6 grams of protein and a broad range of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. 

4. Dairy: Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and milk are excellent sources of calcium and protein.

5. Plant-Based Proteins: For vegetarians and vegans, green peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and tofu are protein-rich options. 

6. Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, pistachios, chia seeds, and flax seeds are packed with protein and healthy fats. 

7. Whole Grains: Quinoa and brown rice are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a decent amount of protein. 

The Takeaways:

Increasing your protein to build muscle isn't easy and requires a well-planned, balanced diet containing a variety of protein sources. 

Alongside the protein requirements, a well-designed workout program is key to progressing with your fitness goals. 

Every individual is unique, and therefore protein intake will vary and should be adjusted based on your weight, activity level, and muscle-building goals.

Remember, building muscle isn't just about high protein consumption—the quality of the protein and your overall diet matters too, not just for muscle but also for your health. Prioritize whole foods, balance your macros properly, and you'll be packing on muscle in no time.

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Chris Beck is Senior Editor at Gymshark, with a passion for curating informative conditioning and health content. Chris is an experienced Personal Trainer, and also holds qualifications in Nutrition, Sports Performance and is a certified Crossfit Level 1 Trainer.

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Chris BeckBy Chris Beck

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