How much protein do you need?

by Michael Davis in Education | Nutrition

Protein is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to building muscle. The recommended daily amount of protein depends on your bodyweight. However, if you are carrying a lot of bodyfat the recommended amount will not be accurate.

Here are the recommendations for protein intake:

For sedentary people who do not exercise, the world health organisation recommends 0.8 g per kg of bodyweight. This recommendation is not for suitable muscle gain but rather a recommendation to prevent protein malnutrition.

If your aim is to gain muscle, aim for between 1.6g to 2g per kg of bodyweight

In order to calculate your protein requirements, simply multiply your weight in kilograms by either 0.8 or 1.6 depending on your level of activity.

For an 80kg person who is training to gain muscle, multiply 80 by 1.6. This person needs at least 128 grams of protein.

Protein per meal

Another way to measure your protein intake is to measure your protein per meal. Assuming 4 meals per day, simply multiply your bodyweight in kilograms by 0.4. So, for an 80kg person multiply 80 by 0.4 to get 32 grams of protein. If this person eats 32g of protein per meal 4 times a day, that’s the equivalent to 1.6 grams per kilogram bodyweight per day. When it comes to gaining muscle, it may be more beneficial to spread out your total daily protein in your meals.

What if you are carrying a lot of body fat?

If you have a high bodyfat percentage, the recommended amount of daily protein based on your total bodyweight will be not be suitable. This is because lean mass (muscle) is an important contributor to daily protein intake. If this is the case, start by assuming a healthy BMI of 25. From there you can calculate your ideal weight based on your height. Simply multiply your height in meters squared by 25. Here is an example for someone who measures 1 m 80:

1.82 (1m80) *25 = 81

81 is the ideal weight for this person’s height. And 129.6 (81*1.6) grams of protein is their daily requirement if their aim is to gain muscle.

Using this number will provide a better estimate of your protein requirements if you have a high percentage of bodyfat. That being said, any person with any body composition can use this method.

Here are some good protein sources:

  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Meats
  • Soy
  • Beans (kidney beans, chickpeas)
  • Nuts
  • Eggs


Key takeaways:

  • Aim for 0.8 g/kg bodyweight of protein if sedentary or 1.6 to 2g/kg bodyweight if you are exercising to gain muscle.
  • Protein per meal is another way to measure protein intake
  • Bodyfat does not contribute to total protein requirement