When you work out you will sometimes damage muscle fibres. These fibres have to be repaired and this will require protein. By working out you stimulate your muscles to make the muscle cells bigger. To make them bigger you need protein.
Eating more protein will not make your muscles bigger. Working out, taking rest and eating enough calories will. Protein just plays a role in this process. It does not start or lead that process. In fact, eating more protein than is needed will turn into body fat.
A general guideline for an athlete will only need about 0, 8 – 1, 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight (or per 2 pounds of body weight).
So for an average sized male person weighing 80 kg this means:
80 x 0,8 = 64 grams of protein or 80 x 1,2 = 96 grams of protein
For someone who is into weightlifting or other strength / muscle mass training could use slightly more. Think about 1, 5 to 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight (or per 2 pounds of body weight).
More important is the amount of calories (= energy) that you eat each day. To increase body weight you need to increase energy intake. If you eat more than you need, you will gain weight and if you eat less than you need, you will lose the weight.
This might sound a bit weird, because eating more than you need can also result in gaining fat. To avoid this you must make sure that you increase the calorie intake slowly and gradually. 500 kcal extra each day will result in a gain of 0, 5 kilograms / 1 pound each week!
Muscle mass burns more energy in rest than fat mass does. That is why gaining muscle mass helps you to lose more fat indirectly. You need more energy to support the muscle mass. If you eat a bit less than is needed, your body starts using body fat as energy.
An excessive amount of protein makes you fat!
There are a bunch of different formulas to rather accurately calculate how many calories you should eat to gain, maintain or lose weight. However, there is an easier way to find out how much to eat. Simply fill in your age, gender, weight, height, goal and activity level in the calculator below and find out how much you should eat. For those interested, the formula used to make the following calculator is called the Harris and Benedict formula.
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