The whole damn bodybuilding world is protein mad. There a literally a million and one protein supplements to choose from – each claiming to be the best, with added ingredients you simply must have for incredible muscle gains…
But the question I’d like to address is, does protein really help to build muscle, or is everything just blown way out of proportion?
Looking at it on a very basic level… calories are needed to build muscle. Protein contains 4 calories per gram, so yes; it does help to build muscle. And protein should be a part of everyone’s healthy balanced diet – not just those who lift weights.
But beyond mere calories, what else is it about protein that whips everyone up into such a frenzy and propelled it up to the top nutrient in bodybuilding?
Enhanced muscle growth, is the answer.
Each nutrient we take in – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins – have an important role to play in the building of muscle – but protein in particular is absolute key. Our muscles make up around 70% of our bodies entire protein content, so it goes without saying that upping your protein intake when trying to build muscle is a smart thing to do.
The key is to take in more protein than you excrete (through urine, mostly) in order to keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance. A positive nitrogen balance ensures there is an abundance of protein in the system to support muscle growth. This is known as an anabolic state. The reverse of which, is a negative nitrogen balance whereby you excrete more protein than you take in, which leads to catabolism – a break down of muscle tissue.
So, the answer to the question is yes – complete protein intake does help to build muscle. Further proof of this is the fact that staunch vegetarians have a much harder time packing on muscle than those who eat plenty of meat.