Do I Really Need Protein Powder to Build Muscle?

Do I Really Need Protein Powder to Build Muscle

Protein powder is definitely a huge part of the health and fitness supplement world, and they’ve long been reported to help build muscle and to help lose weight. Sure, they may work, but the question is do you really need a powdered supplement to make the changes you want to see in your body?

How Much Protein do You Really Need?

protein how much you need

Protein is what helps build your muscle, and a powdered supplement used to enhance this effect. The thing is, unless you’re a strict vegan or follow a not-so-balanced vegetarian diet, you’re probably already getting enough protein in your diet from food- based sources.

Your food based protein sources that are already helping build your muscle include meats like chicken, turkey, lean red meats, and fish. Eggs are another excellent source of the protein your body needs to build muscle. It can also be found in abundance in Greek yogurt, almonds, tofu, tempeh, and beans.

How Much Protein is Needed to Build Muscle?


What about if you’re trying to build muscle? The average Joe who sits around and really isn’t concerned about building muscle typically needs around .40 grams of protein per pound of body weight. On the other hand, when this average Joe decides they want to start working out build muscle, they’ll need to up their intake to .50 to .70 grams per pound of body weight. Those that are really doing strenuous strength training, it is recommended to get .70 or .80 grams, but nothing more.

The whole idea of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is just that, an idea. This idea is the one that has gotten in the minds of so many who think they must pack on extra protein to build the muscles they desire. While more protein is needed yes, too much protein is absolutely not necessary at all.

Some of the most elite athletes may go up to a gram of protein per pound a day, but this is way too much protein for the average person who is trying to build muscle. Stick to a little under a gram per pound of your body weight, and you’ll get plenty of the protein you need to build the muscles you desire.

3 Things You Should Know About Protein

protein chem

1. Your Body Can Absorb Up to 100 Grams of Protein in a Sitting

While there are obviously going to be certain situations where this won’t be the case, most people can absorb 100 grams of protein in a single sitting. While this is possible, it means eating a lot of food.

2. Different Proteins Digest at Different Speeds

Different proteins are metabolized at different speeds in the body. To build muscle and stay lean, you’ll want to eat a quick digesting protein for your post workout meal and eat a slow digesting protein before going to bed. Protein from beef and whey digests quicker, while protein from eggs digests slower in the body.

3. You’re Not Always Going to Get the Protein You Need

While it’s likely you’re going to get all the protein you need to build the muscles you desire, there are going to be days where you don’t. Some mornings just call for a bowl of fruit rather than a plate of eggs, and there will be times that you aren’t getting all the protein it takes to shape lean muscle.

The “Need” for Protein Powder?

need for protein powder

There is one thing that should be set straight. You do not need protein powder to build muscle. That being said, there are times that it just might come in handy as a supplement. Those days when lean proteins like chicken and fish seem too much to handle, a protein powder can be just what you need to get the protein you need to build those muscles.

If you think that adding a protein powder supplement would be right for your diet while you build the muscle you want, be sure to keep the following things in mind when looking for the perfect protein powder for your individual needs.

3 Ways to Choose the Right Protein Powder for You


1. Find One Low in Fat

All protein powders are not created equal. You want to look for a powder that is low in fat but high in protein. Extra fat in your protein powder can mean extra fat on you, something that is absolutely unnecessary and completely avoidable. Look at your labels and make sure you’re not getting an overload of fat intake along with the extra protein. Think 1-5 grams of fat per serving, not 5-15 grams.

2. Buy Powders Made with Natural Ingredients

Natural is always better, but unfortunately there are many protein powders that are made with a host of artificial ingredients. Avoid these protein powders just as you would any food that is artificially processed. Stick with the rule of no more than ten ingredients and you’ll be safe. Also be sure to avoid any protein powders with ingredients you can’t pronounce. If you don’t even know what they are, chances are they don’t belong in your body.

3. Use Only What You Need

Sometimes people have a tendency to go overboard with protein powder supplements. They kind of come with this healthy illusion, and we tend to think the more of something healthy, the better. While in some cases this may be true (eat as many blueberries as you like) it’s not so much the case with protein powders.

Find the one that fits your needs and use only what you need. If one serving is giving you what you need, then don’t use it three times a day. Use it in place of your regular protein intake when you feel you’re not going to get what you need from food alone. Be smart with your supplements and they’ll benefit you exactly the way they’re designed to.

What are the Best Protein Powders?

whey protein

If you’re going to choose to use a protein powder, it’s best to know what you’re getting into when you go to buy one. Some of the most common protein powders include:


Whey protein is derived from dairy and is one of the most popular forms of protein powder available. It’s been shown to repair muscles post strength building session as well as increase muscle strength and size if it is consumed within two hours of your workout.


This is another protein derived from dairy, specifically cow’s milk. While it doesn’t make a suitable choice for vegans and some vegetarians, casein is comparable to whey protein. It is however, much slower to digest and is optimal to take before bed.


Peas are very high in protein content and there are a number of pea protein powders that can be found in various health food stores across the country. While it delivers less of a protein punch than some of the other powders, it is super suitable to those that are lactose intolerant or follow a strict vegan diet. It is also 100 percent gluten-free, something that is welcome to those with sensitivity to gluten.


Soy is a complete protein that is extremely popular amongst many vegetarians. While some soy is beneficial to a certain extent, there are many who overdo it on the whole soy intake factor. Too much soy can disrupt hormone balances and can severely affect estrogen levels in the body. It is recommended not as something that is used all the time, but the occasional soy protein powder shake is a good option when you need a little protein boost. Just be sure to get your protein powder from organic sources as it is one of the most genetically modified foods in the system.


Hemp protein is derived from cannabis, but the amount of THC it contains is not enough to give you the psychoactive effects found in marijuana. Hemp actually has more to add than just protein and is considered an antioxidant that contains many essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

The Bottom Line

So, while you definitely don’t need a protein powder to build muscle, it won’t hurt if it is used in the right way. You can build all the muscle you want with proteins found from food based sources, but if you’re not getting all you need all the time, adding a protein powder can help.

While good nutrition and food based proteins are the best option, they’re not always going to be the easiest option. Opt for a protein power in times like these and you’ll be good to go at building that muscle in the healthiest possible way.