Is Protein A Necessity For Gaining Weight? By Ivan Nikolov
Many have this question on their minds, and it's probably on yours if you are reading this right now.
Firstly, you can gain weight even without any protein in your diet!
How is that so?
Notice that we are talking weight. If we were to say "how much protein do you need in order to gain lean muscle mass" that's a whole another story.
I will make the (safe) assumption that you are interested in gaining lean muscle mass rather than any type of weight, which could range from muscle and fat to pure fat.
Onward. The basic rule is you need to be in a positive nitrogen balance. In simpler words, you need to eat at least one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (LBM). I know for myself that I gain muscle best when I eat somewhere around 1.3 grams of protein.
Did you notice? I said "grams of protein per pound of lean body mass". Why is it important that you take your lean body mass (LBM) for this calculation, and not your total body mass?
Well, let's take for example a person with total body weight of 200 lbs and a body fat percentage of 30. If he (or she) were to use his total body weight to compute his protein intake, he'd end up with a number of 260 grams.
But if he were to use his LBM, this number would drop down to 182 grams. You see the difference? The difference is almost 80 grams of protein. Converted in calories that's almost 320 calories.
This many calories in surplus could be the difference between gaining lean body mass and gaining any type of body mass - fat included!
So, how do you find out your LBM?
It's easy. Find out your body fat percentage, and subtract the body fat in pounds (or kilos) from your total body mass. What's left is your LBM.
Use this calculator to find your body fat percentage and your LBM all at once.
Once you have your LBM, multiply it by 1.3. The number you get is the number of total daily protein intake. Divide this number by 6 and you'll get the grams of protein for each of your meals.
Of course in order to gain lean muscle mass without gaining fat, you have to also know what your total daily calories should be. You should also know the ratio between protein:carbs:fat.
But that's a whole another story and it deserves a full-length article by itself...