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How Much Protein is Needed to Build Muscle?

protein-builds-muscleHere’s the deal: If you don’t get enough daily protein, you CANNOT and WILL NOT build any muscle. So this is as serious as it gets.

Listening to the average Joe or your doctor about how much protein you need in your diet is simply not going to cut it for the bodybuilder. We need more than the average person because our muscle tissue is constantly being ripped up and repaired.

Here’s a fantastic little video explaining how the protein you eat actually turns into muscle. Watch it first, then I’ll give you the formula you need.



There are 2 ways to figure out just how much protein you need. First, the easy way:

Consume 1g of Protein per Pound of Body Weight

So if you weigh 180lbs, consume 180g of protein per day.

To build muscle consume 1g protein for every lb bodyweight eg 180lbs=180g protein Click To Tweet


Simple, but this formula doesn’t work well for those with more body fat. The result will be too high. And we don’t want this as excess protein is converted to sugar in the body.

The most precise method of calculating just how much protein you need to gain muscle is based on your lean body weight, not your total body weight.

Lean Mass Weight (kg) x 2.75 = Daily Protein Requirement

(By the way, you simply divide pounds by 2.2 to get the equivalent in kilograms. So 170 pounds is 77.27 kg)

Formula for protein to build muscle: Lean Mass Weight(kg) x 2.75 = Daily Protein Grams Click To Tweet


To get your lean mass weight, you first need to know your total body weight and your body fat percentage. If you don’t know your body fat percentage, I’ve included a calculator in the sidebar of this site to help you. Take a few measurements, input them into the boxes and hit ‘calculate.’ Alternatively buy a cheap pair of calipers like Accumeasure here.

Multiply your answer by your total body weight to determine the amount of fat you are carrying. Now simply subtract this from your total body weight to get your lean mass weight.

Take this figure and multiply it by 2.75 to get your ideal protein intake per day in grams.


A guy weighs 170 pounds with 15% body fat.

  • 170 / 2.2 = 77.27 kg
  • 15% x 77.27 = 11.59 kg
  • 77.27 – 11.59 = 65.68 kg (his lean body mass)
  • 65.68 x 2.75 = 180.62

So, therefore our 170 lb, 15% body fat man should be shooting for ~180 grams of protein per day.

Simple when you know how 😉

My free G.L.A.D. Anabolic Diet will allow anyone to easily reach this relatively high protein requirement. Also make sure you download my free book of bodybuilding meal plans; it contains daily menus from 1600-3600 Calories, all high-protein, all the hard work done for you.

Use this knowledge in conjunction with THT weight training to fuel maximum muscle growth. Grab your copy of THT by entering your details below and I promise you’ll build more muscle faster than anything else you’ve ever tried. Tens of thousands of others already have, like these guys.


If, however, your goal is to burn fat while fueling muscle growth at the same time, ‘Total Six Pack Abs‘ reveals the full diet and workout routine that’ll get you RIPPED in the shortest amount of time possible!


For high quality whey proteins that are the cheapest around, I personally recommend are Optimum Nutrition Whey in the USA and Impact Whey from MyProtein for Europe.

Guys, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me below. I’m always happy to help you out 😀


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Mark McManus
Mark McManus
Mark is now available for 1-on-1 consultations to help you take your results to the next level. Click here for more details.
Mark McManus is a trainer & author from Ireland. His work has been featured in major publications all over the world. He is the creator of the free growth-promoting workout Targeted Hypertrophy Training' (THT) and author of the NEW fat-torching system Total Six Pack Abs.
He has also created the BREAKTHROUGH arm and chest maximizer programs The Arms Blast' and 'Chest Blast' workouts.
And if you're a fan of delicious high-protein recipes to fuel your muscle growth, check out his cook book 'Buff Baking' here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David March 25, 2008, 4:58 pm

    Suppose that 150 lb. dude decided to eat 200g of protein instead of 159g. Would eating more protein impair his workout?

  • Mark McManus March 25, 2008, 5:30 pm

    That dude would be just fine on 200 grams of protein. His strength would not be impaired.

  • David March 25, 2008, 5:34 pm

    So if I’m hearing you correctly, the 159g is just a minimum goal; it would be difficult to eat “too much” protein. That right?

  • Mark McManus March 25, 2008, 5:40 pm

    Well David, I’m not sure if there is such a thing as ‘too much protein’ but there is such a thing as ‘unnecessary protein’. An amount beyond which the protein will not serve any anabolic purpose i.e. the body has gotten all it needs for that.

  • David March 25, 2008, 5:46 pm

    Awesome, dude. You answered my question perfectly.

    Great site, btw. Lot of good information here. Keep it up!

  • Ginyih November 19, 2008, 5:21 pm

    I am following the M.A.N.S diet, so I don’t have to worry about the calories counting and just aim for high protein and fat diet? My lean body mass is 45kg * 2.75 = 123.75, so I would consume that amount per day? What about the fat? I know M.A.N.S diet is about high protein and fat but the fat should have a minimum requirement like what protein had for bodybuilders to consume per day?

  • EAZYYY January 26, 2009, 7:44 pm

    how wud u get all that protein (135.85g for me) in your diet. and is it better to consume before/after/ or at rest days when working out??

  • Jordan February 15, 2009, 11:01 pm

    You should get the protein after your work out

  • Christian February 20, 2009, 2:00 am

    …. it said i needed like 50 grams…. i dont get it…. I weigh 144lbs (65kg) then my body fat percentage was 7.1 soooo 65 X 7.1 = 46 65-46=19 then 19 X 2.75= 52(52.25 if u wanna get technical) so 52 grams of protein is my ideal amount of protein to consume per day to build muscle right?

  • Jay March 28, 2009, 4:06 pm

    I’m 38 yrs old, 6’4″ and two months ago I weighed 375 lbs. I currently weight 325 lbs., and my body fat per your calculator is 31%. Using the calculations you’ve given means that I would need 281g of protein per day. Is this right? Can my organs handle that much? My goal is to get down to 260 and then re-evaluate. I do 40 min. of cardio per day, and about 45 min. of weight training 5 days per week. I do 1 hr of cardio in the middle of the wk to break it up, and 30 min. on Sunday w/ no weights and hit the sauna for 20 min. I want to lose the fat obviously but I would also like to replace it with muscle. I don’t want to look like one of those people that lost alot of weight but have extra skin just falling about. I’m getting about 150-170g of protein per day right now, but I’m afraid to go too high because I don’t want anything clogging up or organ issues. I need some good advice, please if anyone can help. Thanks.

  • Car April 22, 2009, 8:29 am

    Jay, i recommend you talk to a nutritionist or a doctor and not rely on a website. You are a big fella, and i think you should go have your body fat index measured by a qualified professional instead of an online calculator. Keep up the good work though, 50 lbs. in two months is great.

    and Christian
    You calculated wrong, you forgot to convert the percentage into a decimal…..it should be 65 X .071=4.6….65-4.6=60.4 X 2.75=163 grams.

  • Raul July 6, 2009, 2:35 pm

    hi, very interesting site, but ist actually possible to put on muscle with a low carb intake?

  • JT August 5, 2009, 11:03 pm

    So I followed your steps to calculate how much protein I need to take daily for my size and etc. The results were that I need to take 198.2g of protein daily. Is this so I keep my muscle or is this how much I need to gain more muscle? Shall I consume like 50-75 more grams of protein so I gain more muscle. Please answer.

  • Mark McManus August 6, 2009, 9:31 am

    @JT – 198 is enough to build new muscle

  • David August 11, 2009, 6:01 am

    Guys, read The China Study before committing suicide with a high-protein diet.

    Short-term gains will only lead to long-term problems!

  • Shane October 8, 2009, 6:09 pm

    I am about 17 stone and burning fat at a steady speed and building muscle.
    I am currently taking 2 and a half table spoons of protein powder with water, 3/4 times a day.
    Is that too much or not enough to get definition and increase strength?

  • dave November 16, 2009, 4:44 am

    just a quick question im 6’2 and weigh 210 how many grams of protein do i need every day to build muscle. im 40 years old and do about 40 minutes of cardio daily. thank you

  • Kyle November 27, 2009, 8:51 pm

    hey im about 150lbs and have a 6.5 % body fat and lots of definition…im not exactly sure how many grams of protein per day i require ..i usually workout 4 days a week

  • aaron December 3, 2009, 5:46 pm

    300g protien per day 150gcarbper day i way 325pounds and i drink 3litres of water per day

  • Tim January 13, 2010, 1:56 pm

    @David: if you understood the China study, you’d understand that it’s the amount of animal product you eat, not protein. Animal sources are actually the best and/or only sources for key nutrients like omega-3, b12, zinc, iron, riboflavin, calcium, and, of course, protein.

  • Matt Cavanaugh February 2, 2010, 9:24 am

    I am trying to lose fat and gain muscle. I am 5’6 166 Lbs at 22.9 percent body fat. I have been working out daily and eating low calories, but decided that my muscle growth wasnt really happeneing the way I intended. I have been doing 50% Cardio at the gym, and 50% Muscle Training, is there any adjustments I should make to that to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle?

  • Bianca February 6, 2010, 7:44 pm

    I have a question I am a small framed girl but I have a weird shape. I have a large waistline with no muscletone at . I want to add muscle tone to my body without getting big and bulky my bodyfat is 27.1, height 64.8, waist 30, weight 144 with the calculator it says I am suppose to consume 131.75g of protein daily can I get my mid section and the rest of my body cut up without bulking up. And if so how do I measure my meat intake to make sure I am getting enough protein

  • Mark McManus February 7, 2010, 11:02 am

    @Matt. Yes, your diet needs adjusted, calories and macro-nutrient manipulation. My book Total Six Pack Abs details the full strategy to take you to a six-pack.
    @Bianca. Look up the various meats and see how much protein there is per 100g, eg tuna and chicken are roughly 25% protein when weighed. So 100g will give you about 25g of protein, a gram or 2 of fat, and no carbs.

  • Geoff October 8, 2014, 2:07 pm

    If that same 170 pd. man gets 300 grams of protein a day, will it add to or can it be a negative to muscle gain.

  • Mark McManus October 8, 2014, 2:45 pm

    @Geoff. No, nothing above this level will do anything to build muscle. Excess protein is converted to sugar and then to fat if not used. So getting too much protein can make you fat.
    Excess food in general is not the answer. See this post for more http://www.musclehack.com/bodybuilding-food/

  • M October 8, 2014, 2:52 pm

    I have previously been told, if my workout takes half an hour, or an hour a day. Then I only would need 1 gram of protein for every Kg body weight. But if I exercise takes one hour, or more. Then I could need 2 grams of protein, for every kg of body weight. In order to build muscle. However. Would I need as much as two grams for evrey kg body weight, on resting days too.

  • Mark McManus October 8, 2014, 3:00 pm

    @M. It’s not to do with the duration of the workout, but the extent of the muscle fiber damage. Eat the level above every day, even rest days since your body is repairing and growing on rest days.

  • Josh October 8, 2014, 6:19 pm

    I am apparently mathmatically stupid. this conversion part is killing me. I am 275lbs with 18% bodyfat. How many grams of protien do I need to keep growing without overeating?
    Thanks for any help!

  • Geoff October 8, 2014, 9:20 pm

    If the same 170 pd. guy got around 300 grams protein a day , is it helpfully or counterproductive

  • Geoff October 8, 2014, 9:23 pm

    Didn’t see reply thanks. Also thanks for all the advice on your site. Really got me back to basics on working out. Easy to get tied up with all the different opinions out there.

  • Mark October 8, 2014, 10:52 pm

    Why are there posts from 2008?
    Also now they are saying too much protein, especially if over 50 years old causes cancer.
    Just dont know what to believe.

  • Mark October 9, 2014, 9:26 am

    I posted this yesterday and for some reason Mark saw fit to remove the post. Some people just don’t seem to like the TRUTH!!!!!
    I weigh nearly 180lb and after reading a book called ‘how much protein’ by Brad Pilon, which cites study after study showing the amount of protein needed to build muscle. I followed the advise in the book and reduced my protein intake from the amount recommended here to between 110 & 130 g per day, as has my training partner and we both continue to get stronger and build muscle.
    While you do need enough protein to build muscle, the real key is consuming enough calories.
    The amount of protein recommended here is unnecessary, and the recommendations usually stem from supplement companies, because the more protein you consume the more profit they make!!!
    @ Mark if you disagree with my post then instead of removing it again, why don’t you debate it.

  • dem374 October 9, 2014, 2:51 pm

    Mark, can you supplement some of your daily meals with BCAA capsules to meet the minimum grams needed per day? If so, what amount of BCAA is needed to meet a 30g protein meal? Is the BCAA to protein ratio 1:1? (ie. need 30g BCAA to meet 30g of protein?).

  • newton October 9, 2014, 6:09 pm

    To contributor Mark, not Mark McManus (though maybe Mark M. has comments):
    You do not mention your and your trainer’s ages, as this is critical to your question. Younger people, and I’m talking mainly males, who are post-teenagers through 30’s and even into early 40’s, are “unfortunately” better equipped than the rest of us old-timers, to work out more strenuously and make muscle gains REGARDLESS of what they eat, protein or not/alcohol or not/desserts or not, and regardless of how much sleep they’re able to get due to work schedule or due to partying lifestyle.

    You do not mention your somatotype, ectomorphs have much trouble adding muscle regardless of protein or calorie intake unless they follow most of Mark M’s recommendations in this blog. Endomorphs like me can add muscle but have a tendency to easily add fat along with it unless adhering to a very strict regimen of diet like LCHF/Paleo/VLC and religiously watching calories to avoid excesses. However natural mesomorphs are the envy of us all–and you may be one of these–They can get away with murder and break all the rules, drink all the beer, cheat on breads and desserts as much as they want (and flaunt it), and even neglect good sleeping habits (because when they’re in bed between 17 and 39 years old they’re usually not sleeping if you know what I mean). Mesomorphs can be star athletes, can experiment with this trendy diet or that if their girlfriends are impressed by those things, can even trail off on their protein intake for short or irregular periods of time…..and still maintain or even gain in strength and size!!!! I’ve seen this and it drives me crazy. But it’s part of life and we all have to deal with it.

    So I submit that the amount of protein recommended here is NOT unnecessary, for most people of all age groups, especially ectomorphs and endomorphs, because there will ALWAYS be those exceptional souls who excel at all that they undertake with utter disregard of the “rules,” while the majority of us will benefit greatly from the wise, prudent protein/carb/calorie/sleep/timing recommendations recommended in this column.

    And I truly do not believe that Mark McManus is receiving any kind of monetary benefit from any of the short, plain, simple list of products and foods he endorses which are essential to applying the lessons he’s learned from hard years of experience to our benefit.

  • newton October 9, 2014, 7:08 pm

    Again, to contributor Mark: I forgot to add these thoughts.

    Who is this “they” who says that too much protein causes cancer? What are their credentials? I haven’t looked up your author yet, but will check it out because I’m very skeptical. Better they should pay much more attention to the stark health hazards of consuming TOO MUCH CARBOHYDRATE, because the dangers are all too obvious, and almost ALL of us the world over do exactly that!

    Think about it for a minute, Mark. All of the food you consume falls into 3 categories. Proteins, fats, carbohydrate. Proteins are not just used for building muscle–they are also used by the body to manufacture enzymes and hormones and to maintain the health of the organs throughout the body. If you do not get “enough” protein in your food, then the muscles suffer first, because the body senses the need to maintain the liver, heart, kidneys, etc., first and foremost before maintaining or building onto your skeletal muscles.
    The larger your body, the larger your internal organs, the more dietary protein is earmarked first for general maintenance. Then on top of that you are expected to add to your diet “enough” additional protein to add, maintain and repair skeletal muscle, bearing in mind the amount of punishing cardio workouts you do, how much sleep you get, how hard you lift, for how many sets/how many days per week, how much damage you do and how much repair needs to be done, etc. Don’t forget about testerone, which is an important factor in my previous post. If you’re a teen, in your 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s that’s usually not a problem. But post-50 and it becomes an issue, in regards to muscle repair, endurance, building, recovery…..and it determines how much “cheating” you can get away with, in not having to adhere so closely to a regimented system of watching calories and grams of this and grams of that.

    Many years ago many “experts” published books related to low protein requirements. Believe me I know because I followed Pritikin, McDougall, John Robbins, et. al. and suffered because I truly believed the evils of excessive protein intake. So beware and be careful. So much for protein. Much more to discuss but move on to Fat.

    A certain amount of essential fatty acids are necessary for good health, and when many/most experts today recommend a “low-fat” diet the body suffers. Fat, whether dietary or bodyfat, is basically inert. It is an energy source that most of us never get around to tapping because we’re too busy running our engines on carbohydrate fuels.
    There’s more to discuss on fats and fat metabolism, but let’s move on to Carbohydrate.

    The main reason for raging morbid obesity in “civilized” countries today (and along with it heart disease, stroke, diabetes and weight-related arthritis/skeletal damage) is the CONSTANT drumming into our heads that a healthy, balanced diet consists of about 10%-15% protein, about 20%-25% fat (the lower the better!), and the rest carbs–and, do the math….the “rest” consists of between 60% to as high as 70% carbohydrates! No wonder we have so many sugar metabolism problems today because ALL carbohydrate turns to sugar, even that in broccoli and whole wheat flour/wheat bran.

    This post is getting way too long and I’m sure you’re all getting bored out of your skull, but suffice it to say that as Mark M states above, any EXCESS protein you consume is surplus and is converted to sugar and then stored as fat if not needed as energy right away. So it’s very important to get ENOUGH protein, so that your organs and glands have enough to carry on their functions as well as your muscles have enough to build, maintain and repair, but you do not need an excess. It won’t cause any harm unless you already have kidney damage or other health problems, but it will be a waste of money.

    The most effective weight loss regimen I know of is to convert your body from a sugar-burning engine into a fat-burning engine (so you can finally begin to tap into those fat stores on your body). Mark M writes in this blog about his recommendations on how to do just this. Couple this with calculating and then sticking to a consistent calorie deficit in your daily life. There’s math involved. Protein 4 calories/gram, Fat 9 calories/gram, Carb 4 calories/gram. Calculate your body composition as closely as possible or estimate.

    Maintain enough protein at all times, drastically reduce carbs to 20-40 grams/day or more, depending on body size, insulin resistance, or which approach you research, and then stick with the plan. You will steadily lose bodyfat, maintain or gain healthy muscle, never experience hypoglycemia again.

    AND you will be able to follow Mark M’s advice on “cheat meals” which makes your life so much more enjoyable! Enough of the soapbox stuff. I’d like to hear other people’s opinions.


  • Mark McManus October 10, 2014, 10:25 am

    @Mark. Firstly, I didn’t delete any comment. If it had loads of exclamation marks and/or links it was probably automatically marked as spam. If you want to eat 120g protein per day, that’s fine, go ahead. I myself and many others have had the opposite experience to you by eating more high-quality protein. Do what you think is best. Personally, I’m not going to risk it. I put too much effort in the gym to risk it all by not getting enough protein.

  • Mark McManus October 10, 2014, 10:27 am

    @dem374. No, don’t do that. Please read this recent post of mine about BCAA’s. Get your protein requirement from high-quality protein sources http://www.musclehack.com/whey-vs-bcaas-which-is-best-for-building-muscle/

  • Mark McManus October 10, 2014, 10:30 am

    @Josh. Here you go…
    275lbs = 125kg.
    18% BF = 22.5kg of fat.
    125 – 22.5 = 102.5kg lean body mass.
    102.5 x 2.75 = ~282g protein.

  • Mark McManus October 10, 2014, 10:32 am

    @Newton. Thanks for your detailed contribution. Much appreciated! Also, gotta love those cheat meals, eh?! 😀

  • Heidi June 17, 2015, 1:36 pm

    Cool. Thanks for sharing.
    Vid reminds me: why can’t I just drink no cal BCAA drink all day and get lean and muscular?

  • Mark McManus June 17, 2015, 1:42 pm

    @Heidi. BCAAs don’t contain all the amino acids, only leucine, isoleucine and valine.

  • Mark June 17, 2015, 2:34 pm

    I’m sorry Mark but that is utter BS.
    You don;t need any where near that amount of protein to build muscle, I weigh 182lb and only take in 130g per day max and continue to get stronger and increase lbm(and I’m 48 yrs of age, where supposedly you need more)
    You should give the book ‘how much protein’ by Brad Pilon a read, it certainly opened my eyes, and saved me a fortune in protein also.

  • Scott D June 17, 2015, 2:43 pm

    Where did that 2.75 multiplier come from? How was it arrived at?

    I ask as for me, there really was no difference between the first method (203.6 lbs = 203.6 grams) and the second (203.6 pounds / 2.2 * 77% lean mass * 2.75 = 196 grams)

    – Scott Dickson

  • Connar June 17, 2015, 3:14 pm

    Every study done on the topic has found that 2g/Kg of Fat Free Mass is peak protein intake. Which is about .82/lb of Fat Free Mass. Bro-science turned it into 1/lb of total mass to make the math simple.

    • Tarnopolsky et al. (1992) observed no differences in whole body protein synthesis or indexes of lean body mass in strength athletes consuming either 0.64g/lb or 1.10g/lb over a 2 week period. Protein oxidation did increase in the high protein group, indicating a nutrient overload.
    • Walberg et al. (1988) found that 0.73g/lb was sufficient to maintain positive nitrogen balance in cutting weightlifters over a 7 day time period.
    • Tarnopolsky et al. (1988) found that only 0.37g/lb was required to maintain positive nitrogen balance in elite bodybuilders (over 5 years of experience, possible previous use of androgens) over a 10 day period. 0.45g/lb was sufficient to maintain lean body mass in bodybuilders over a 2 week period. The authors suggested that 0.55g/lb was sufficient for bodybuilders.
    • Lemon et al. (1992) found no differences in muscle mass or strength gains in novice bodybuilders consuming either 0.61g/lb or 1.19g/lb over a 4 week period. Based on nitrogen balance data, the authors recommended 0.75g/lb.
    • Hoffman et al. (2006) found no differences in body composition, strength or resting hormonal concentrations in strength athletes consuming either 0.77g/lb or >0.91g/lb over a 3 month period.

  • Andrew Moss June 17, 2015, 7:03 pm

    It’s not difficult to get this much protein per day for anyone with any sense. Most people completely overdo the protein and don’t leave any room for fats and carbs, which gives no energy to string the amino acids together. I went mad on protein and it did squat for my gainz. Only when I titred my carbs up to 500g/day did I start gaining porper mass and strength. Now I eat only 250-275g protein per day, but it doesn’t feel like a lot. I suppose you do have to work out your own personal formula to some extent

  • Andy June 18, 2015, 7:24 am

    Hi Mark,
    I think i might have an intolerance to whey or milk protein, after consuming an Impact whey shake with 5g Creatine mono i feel sick and nausea which lasts for 36 to 48 hours.This has happened several times now, which led to me having blood tests to check for GI problems (which came back all clear). It is having a real start stop effect on my workouts, what would be the best way of dealing with this issue.
    I’ve been following you for a while now and been impressed with everything you have written, al the best.

  • Tommi June 18, 2015, 7:50 am

    How would we work out fats? And if I was going to do a carb cycle what’s the best way to work out daily calories for a low med and high day’s? Would this also be best way for losing fat and building lean mass?
    thanks in advance!

  • Mark McManus June 18, 2015, 12:58 pm

    @Andy. If it turns out that you have an intolerance, just don’t take whey. Get all your protein from food. Whey is just good for the convenience.

  • Mark McManus June 18, 2015, 1:00 pm

    @Tommi. Use my calculator here to work out your protein and cals for the day
    Then if you decide on a carb level e.g 50g = 200 cals, and add it to your protein grams/cals, the rest of your daily cals will come from fat.

  • Jake Roden June 18, 2015, 7:06 pm

    “We need more than the average person because our muscle tissue is constantly being ripped up and repaired.” Could not have said it better myself! Thanks for preaching the truth Mark, listen up guys if you want to build muscle then you have to start by watching your diet, you can’t just expect to lift a bunch of weights and build muscle if your diet sucks. Lifting weights is easy, but cutting out junk food can be tough. When you get your diet in check, then focus on lifting heavy and hard. The most important thing is being consistent and keeping a log and a good routine going. You won’t get very far if you’re inconsistent in this game.