How much protein do you need to build muscle?

This question is about GLP-1 & Weight Loss and Nutrition

Elle Penner, MPH, RD

You need around 20-40 g of protein every 3-4 hours to build muscle and maximize muscle protein synthesis [



According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, total daily protein intakes of 1.4–2.0 g/kg/day are adequate for most active individuals to build and maintain muscle mass through a positive muscle protein balance [


]. Higher protein intakes of 2.3-3.1 g/kg/day may be needed to build and maintain muscle mass in athletes trying to lose weight [



One key factor in building muscle is maximizing muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which incorporates amino acids into skeletal muscle proteins. To maximize MPS, current research recommends consuming 0.4 g of protein/kg of body weight per meal (around 20-40 g) [



This amount, also known as the protein ceiling, is the maximum amount of protein that can be put towards muscle protein synthesis after a meal or snack. Because there is a limit to the amount of protein the body can put towards muscle building at one time, dividing your total protein intake evenly throughout the day is recommended if you want to build muscle. 

protein powder in a red scoop


  1. Jäger, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., Purpura, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Ferrando, A. A., Arent, S. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Arciero, P. J., Ormsbee, M. J., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Kalman, D. S., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D. S., Hoffman, J. R., … Antonio, J. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14, 20.

  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Aragon, A. A. (2018). How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 10.