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How Much Protein Do You Need To Build Muscles?

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, unravels the protein puzzle and explores how much protein you need to build muscles effectively.

 Protein is one of the key ingredients in the recipe for success in building muscles. But just how much protein do you need to sculpt those biceps and chisel that six-pack?

The answer is more complex than you might think, and it certainly doesn’t involve loading up on protein shakes and steaks at every meal.

What is Protein and Why Do You Need It?

Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, is one of the three macronutrients that form the foundation of your diet. It’s essential for various bodily functions, including building muscle.


Muscles are mostly made up of proteins, specifically contractile proteins, responsible for muscle contraction and movement.


When you do resistance or strength training, you cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. Your muscles repair and strengthen as you constantly exercise and take in adequate protein.

The Protein Requirement: Not One Size Fits All

Here’s where it gets interesting. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how much protein you need to build muscles.

Your protein requirements depend on several factors:

Your Body Weight: One of the most significant factors influencing your protein needs is your body weight. Generally, consuming between 1.2 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended. Aim for the higher end of this range if you’re an active individual engaging in regular strength training.

Activity Level: If you’re an athlete or exerciser, your protein requirements will often be higher than those of someone who leads a more sedentary lifestyle. Athletes may need up to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or even more.

Age: As you age, your muscle mass naturally decreases. Older adults may benefit from slightly higher protein intake to counteract this muscle loss.

Gender: Men generally have more muscle mass than women due to hormonal differences. Therefore, their protein needs may be slightly higher.

Goals: Are you looking to maintain your current muscle mass or actively trying to build more? Your goals play a significant role in determining your protein requirements.

Dietary Preferences: Vegetarians and vegans can meet their protein needs through plant-based sources but may need to pay extra attention to their protein intake to ensure they get enough of the essential amino acids.

Meeting Your Protein Needs: Food Sources

Now that you know how much protein you need, let’s explore where to find it. The good news is that there are plenty of delicious and healthy protein sources to choose from:


  1. Lean Meats: Chicken, turkey, lean beef, and pork are excellent sources of high-quality protein.
  2. Fish: Fish like salmon, tuna, and cod provide protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Dairy: Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, and milk are protein-rich and provide calcium for strong bones.
  4. Eggs: Eggs are a versatile protein source that can be prepared in various ways.
  5. Plant-Based Options: Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and edamame are great plant-based protein sources for vegetarians and vegans.
  6. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds contain protein and healthy fats.
  7. Protein Supplements: If you struggle to meet your protein needs through food alone, consider protein supplements like whey protein, casein protein, or plant-based protein powder.

Timing Matters: When to Consume Protein

It’s about how much protein you eat and when you eat it. To optimise muscle growth and repair, consider the following:


Pre-Workout: Consuming a small protein-rich snack or shake 30 minutes to an hour before your workout can provide your muscles with a readily available source of amino acids.


Post-Workout: Within an hour after your workout, consume a protein-rich meal or shake to help with muscle recovery and growth.


Spread It Out: Instead of consuming all your protein in one meal, spread it evenly throughout the day to maintain a steady supply of amino acids for your muscles.

A Word of Caution: Don’t Overdo It

While protein is essential for muscle growth, going overboard is unnecessary. Excessive protein consumption can strain your kidneys and lead to other health issues. Follow the recommended range for protein intake based on your exercise level and goals.


Talk to a registered dietitian or other health professional if you are worried about your protein intake.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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