How Much Protein And Carbs Should I Eat To Gain Muscle? It is important to take the total number of grams in your meals and total how many macronutrients (fat, carbs, and protein) you are getting. If you want to gain muscle weight it is crucial that you track how much protein, carbs and fat you are consuming along with calories. The amount of protein and carbs you need depends on your weight, age, and if you’re trying to lose weight. The ratio of protein, carbs, and fats for muscle building will be different for each person but it may vary from 2:1 to 4:1 carbs to protein.
The Relationship Between Nutrition and Muscle Growth
- Protein: Protein is the foundation of muscle gain. This essential component is a necessity for all of your body’s daily functions and uses. Despite myths and misconceptions surrounding how much protein you should or should not eat, it’s important to balance one’s protein accrual with the rest of their nutritional intake.
- Carbs: Along with protein, carbs act as the body’s source of fuel. As the primary component in gaining energy, preventing muscle weakness and degradation, complex carbs should be a large daily element of everyone’s nutritional intake.
- Why You Should Consume: As with all relationships, it’s important to understand how true results only happen when both sides work together. By consuming protein and carbohydrates in a healthy way, muscle growth and sustainment is possible for all body types.
When thinking about our overall health and wellness, it’s important to recognize the vital relationship between our nutritional intake and our activity levels. For long-lasting, healthy habits and results, one cannot exist without the other. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at muscle growth and the power of protein and carbohydrates in sustaining muscle gain that works for each and every individual.
Find Your Macro Ratios For Bulking
So what is the best ratio of macros to use when bulking?
Let’s start with protein.
Protein is essential for building and preserving muscle mass, and therefore very important during a bulk.
You want to start by setting your protein intake because it should be set based on your bodyweight, rather than a set ratio of your calories.
The recommended protein intake for most healthy individuals doing a bulk is 2-2.5g/kg of bodyweight.
For someone who weighs 80kg, that would mean 160 – 200g of protein.
Carbohydrates are very important for a bulk, as they are our body’s primary energy source and used to fuel training sessions, which is where the muscle building happens.
That being said, carbohydrates can turn easily to fat if we eat more than we need to fuel our daily activities. Because we are focusing on bulking lean mass, with minimal fat gain, we want to make sure that we still somewhat control our carbohydrate intake.
The biggest factor in setting your carbohydrate intake is going to be your activity level:
- For someone who is not very active, the general rule of thumb is 2g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight.
- For someone who is considered a high-performance athlete, recommendations increase to 7g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight.
If you consider your activity levels moderate-high (which I am assuming that most of you will if you are trying to bulk), the recommended intake of carbohydrates would be 4g per kg of bodyweight.
For someone who weighs 80kg, that would be 320g of carbohydrates.
Another way to set your macros would be based on the percentage of your total caloric intake.
For bulking, you want your carbohydrates to be somewhere around 40% of your total caloric intake.
For example, if your bulking calories are 3,000, 40% would be 300g of carbohydrates.
Fats are extremely important for a bulk, as they are a great source of energy as well as essential for proper hormone function (and hormones play a huge role in building muscle).
Your fat intake during a bulk will be dependant on how many calories you have left after calculating your protein and carbs, but you want to make sure your fat intake is at least 20% of your overall caloric intake.
For example, if you are 80kg and your bulking calories are 3,000 we already know that your protein will be between 160-200g and your carbohydrates between 300-320g. Let’s take the mid ranges for those numbers: 180g protein and 310g carbohydrates. That’s about 25% protein and 40% carbohydrates which leaves 35% left for fats, which is well above the 20% minimum. That would mean 116g of fats.
Another way to calculate your fat intake when bulking is using your bodyweight. The general recommendations are 0.5 – 2g of fats per kg of bodyweight.
For our 80kg example, that would be anywhere from 40 – 160g of fats. Essentially, you wouldn’t want to go below or above that range.
Why Protein Is Important for Building Muscle
To build muscle, your body needs to synthesise more muscle protein than it breaks down, which is why anyone looking to build muscle needs to make sure they’re getting enough protein, as well as making sure the work they’re doing in the weights room is right too.
It’s not just us saying that, there’s a body of research that confirms the part protein plays in building muscle. A study published in the journal Nutrients, for example, found that “protein intake was shown to promote additional gains in lean body mass beyond those observed with resistance exercise alone.”
How Much Protein You Need to Build Muscle
Everyone knows we need protein to build muscle, but how much is enough?
Let’s face it, protein and muscle-building go hand-in-hand. The macronutrient is vital for muscle tissue repair and is full of amino acids: the building blocks of strength. But, with sources, calculations and advice varying wildly, few men actually know how much protein they need to maintain muscle and to keep building bulk.
And without that knowledge, the caricature of the gym bro guzzling a protein shake that’s surgically attached to him is allowed to live on. Well, no more. We’re here to tell you exactly how much protein you need in your diet to build muscle, as well as explain how you can calculate a protein intake that’s personalised to you and the foods you can add to your diet to up your protein numbers if that’s necessary.
According to the NHS, the daily reference intake of protein is 50g, but that doesn’t take into account the differences between people, so it doesn’t change whether you’re 6 ft 9 or 4 ft 4, nor does it allow for the difference in need between someone who weighs 80 kilos compared with someone who weighs 200 kilos. But there are ways to work out how much protein you need.
How Much Protein Is Enough Protein?
In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers compared the muscle development of three groups of athletes on the same exercise regimen, but different levels of protein intake. One group was given less than the daily recommended amount (1.4g/kg of body weight), one group the recommended level (1.8g/kg of body weight), and one group over the daily recommended level (2.0kg/ of body weight).
The researchers found no recorded benefit in strength or body composition changes in the group that exceeded the recommended amount of protein needed for strength training. They found that 0.8 – 0.9 grams per pound of bodyweight was sufficient to see favorable changes in body composition.
Let’s say you weigh 125 pounds, and you’re working to increase your Lean Body Mass. You would need to set a target of about 100 grams.
100 grams might seem like a lot, but consider that 1 cup (140 grams) of chicken contains 43 grams of protein. That’s just the protein in just one part of just one meal in your day. A can of tuna can contain as much as 49 grams. With a cup of chicken and a can of tuna, you’d almost entirely meet your protein needs. Add in a glass of 2% milk (9-10 grams), and you’re well over 100 grams for the day.
How to Eat Carbs for More Muscle and Less Fat
Marc Perry, C.S.C.S., ACE-CPT, and founder of Built Lean, answers questions about everything and anything related to carbohydrates, their function and how to use them appropriately.
1. How many grams of carbs should be consumed in a day? Is there a ratio or math equation to determine how much is needed?
“The amount of carbs to eat in a day depends on several variables including your (1) body size, (2) activity level, (3) fitness goals, and (4) genetics. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest around 55% of your calories each day should come from carbohydrates. Most bodybuilders consume around 50% of total calories from carbs whereas low carb advocates can consume as low as 10-15%.
Technically, carbs are not an essential nutrient so we don’t need to eat them to survive. With that said, going very low carb is simply unnecessary to reach your health and fitness goals.
The best way to arrive at your desired carb intake is to first establish how many grams of protein and fat you want to eat first, then the balance will be your carb intake. For example, if you are looking to cut some fat for the summer without losing muscle, you can intake 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, 0.5 grams of fat per pound, and the balance will be carbs. For a 180lb man, that means 180 grams of protein and 90 grams of fat. Assuming a 2,000 calorie diet, that leaves 200 grams of carbs left over (1 gram of protein/carbs has 4 calories, and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories). The percentage breakdown in this example is roughly 35% protein, 45% carbs, and 20% fat.
As a general guideline, somewhere around 40-50% carbs, 25-30% protein, and 20-30% fat is a solid benchmark during a cutting program. You can play around with increasing, or decreasing the carb/fat level to see what works best for you. ”
The Roles of Carbs in Muscle Growth
If protein is so essential to muscle growth, why put an emphasis on carbs? Well, carbohydrates don’t get enough credit when it comes to the important roles they play in muscle gains.
For one, carbohydrates help replace glycogen and aids in enhancing the role of insulin when it comes to transporting nutrients into the cells, including your muscles. Combining protein and carbs also has the added advantage of limiting post-exercise breakdown and promoting growth.
Think about it: building anything takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. Building muscle is no different. The body requires a lot of energy to power through workouts that result in bigger, stronger muscles. Where does the body get most of that energy? Usually from carbs.
What kind of carbohydrates should I eat?
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbs and complex carbs.
Simple carbs are a quick, sporadic source of energy, while complex carbs are a good source of steady energy.
Complex carbs may not be as readily available for immediate energy as simple carbs are, but they’re more efficient and healthier. Complex carbs provide sustainable energy, which means the energy is constant and there’s no “crash” like with simple carbs.
Because of their slow-release properties, complex carbs should be the largest component of daily energy intake. What most people don’t know is the role that complex carbohydrates play when it comes to muscle gains.