How Much Protein to Build Muscle?

“How much protein do I need to build muscle?” is one of the most common nutrition questions that any personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach hears in their careers.

It’s one that I’ve heard numerous times, and what I always recommended was to eat some form of protein every time you eat, with a complete protein source (meat, eggs) at the major meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and a complete or incomplete source (nuts) in between. This is from the principle “Eat Complete Meals” in my Nutrition-itsu book.

But I’ve never recommended trying to get a specific amount, because it changes depending on the person’s makeup, activity level, and goals. If I was really pressed, I’d say to aim for about 1 gram/pound of body weight, because it’s definitely better from a body composition point of view to have more protein vs. carbs. Plus there are no problems with your kidneys from consuming too much protein – that’s a myth.

Honestly though, I haven’t seen conclusive evidence supporting this number, as there are various sources recommending different amounts, I just looked at the data from my clients and myself, and what other nutrition experts whom I trust recommended, and based my recommendation on that.

So when nutrition researcher and author Brad Pilon, who’s also a friend of mine, sent me a copy of his new book called “How Much Protein” to review, I was really intrigued.

Brad’s first book called Eat Stop Eat is a nutrition book for fat loss based on what he calls ‘flexible intermittent fasting’.


I’ve read the book and have tried the protocol and can tell you that for me, it really showed how trained my body is to want food every 3 hours. This is after years of making sure I was eating frequently.

When I fasted, I’d get hungry about every 3 hours, but as I kept fasting, the hunger soon dissipated and I didn’t feel any drop in energy. I’ll tell you, it was kind of weird, but it was good to regain control over my food choices.

It’s not something that I follow all the time, but it is a good exercise to train your ‘appetite control muscle’, especially if yours is weak and out of shape!

Now, his second book, “How Much Protein” is a review of a ton of recent scientific studies that will provide you with the guidelines to optimizing your protein intake for gaining muscle.

After reading the book, I had a few more questions for Brad, so I sent them over and I’m sharing his responses with you here.

Eric: First of all, give us a little background about yourself and how you came up with Eat Stop Eat.

Brad: I’m a Nutrition Professional out of Canada. I started my career working in Research and Development for the sports supplement industry. After 7 years in the industry where I helped design supplements and clinical trials I decided it was time to go back to school to do graduate studies.

When I went back to school my plan was to study nutrition and weight loss. My original goal was to study fasting simply to get a ‘base line’ expecting to find out about all of the horrible things that happened to your body when you fast, and then move from there to study all the reasons why you need to ‘eat to lose weight’

But the research was surprisingly clear that during short periods of fasting (12-72 hours) all of the supposed bad things (metabolism slowing down, fat burning enzymes being turned off, muscle loss, actually gaining fat) didn’t happen, so I swallowed a bit of crow, and decided to study the metabolic effects of short periods of fasting for my graduate studies.

Eric: What are the most common objections to fasting for fat loss, and what did your research tell us?

Brad: Most people are afraid that they will somehow ‘destroy’ their metabolism, or that they will actually get fat because of fasting..this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Eat Stop Eat is a review of the available research on short term fasting that clearly shows that your body burns body fat while you are fasting and that your metabolism does not slow down.

The great part about fasting is that it has an AMAZING track record. Through human history, dozens of cultures and religions have followed variations of short term fasting, we can obviously have a great track record of handling the minor stress of a short term fast.

Eric: So then who is Eat Stop Eat for?

Brad: Basically, Eat Stop Eat is for anyone who is sick of traditional diets and obsessive compulsive eating. Someone who wants an extremely simple fat loss program, and is open to the idea that nutrient timing, weighing food and obsessing about ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’ isn’t the only way to lose weight and be healthy.

Eric: So what exactly is the new book you’re launching called “How Much Protein” all about?

Brad: It is another investigation, very similar to Eat Stop Eat, trying to answer one of the most confusing questions in all of nutrition. Really, after ‘how do I lose weight’ the second most common question is “how much protein do I need to eat to build muscle’.

Eric: Why did you write this book?

Brad: “How much protein?” I is a question that has been bugging me for years. Even when I worked in the supplement industry designing protein products and clinical trials studying protein, I still wasn’t sure of exactly how much protein was best. I experimented with as high as 500 grams a day, with little effect on muscle mass…so when I finally
finished Eat Stop Eat..I thought, OK what’s next? And protein immediately sprung to mind. Two years later.. “how much protein” was finally finished.

Eric: OK, so I’m around 172 pounds, and I want to stay where I am. I workout 3-4 days a week – how much protein do I need to maintain my muscle mass?

Brad: Whether maintaining or building, at your height and weight and activity level you’d be find at around 100 grams. Nothing bad would happen if you pumped it up to 150 or even 200, but I don’t believe you wouldn’t see any noticeable difference between 200 or 100.

Eric: Who will benefit from reading this book, people looking to build muscle, or lose fat?

Brad: This book is really written for anyone who simply wants an answer. AND, the kind of person who really wants to understand the logical reasoning BEHIND the answer. With the combination of How Much Protein and Eat Stop Eat I do my best to answer both questions “how do I lose fat” and “how do I build muscle’


If you enjoyed this interview, you can read more about the Eat Stop Eat method for fat loss at:


Plus, Brad just released his new book “How Much Protein” yesterday and I highly recommend it if you want to learn the truth about protein, and have all the data to back it up so you don’t get misled by the various experts or companies telling you have to consume massive amounts or you’ll lose all your muscle! I’ll never do the extensive research that Brad has done, so I highly recommend it if you think it’s valuable to understand the “why” behind the “what”.

Eric Wong, BSc, CSCS
Author, MMA Ripped Fat Loss Program

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9 years ago

Awesome Eric thank you!!