In the first post of this series, we discussed the importance of progressive overload with high mechanical load, while in the second post we talked about how important getting in enough daily/weekly calories is if you want to continue to make gains past the beginner stage. This post is now going to reveal the third most important aspect of building muscle.
Total Daily Protein
You have probably heard many times by now how important protein is for building muscle (and, as I discussed in the Hierarchy of Importance for Fat Loss, how even more important it is for fat loss), but I still needed to put it as #3 on this list because it is just that important.
Now, I could have grouped total daily calories together with total daily protein into one big group and labeled it as Diet, but that would be misrepresenting the information in my opinion. Since you have an even greater amount of protein during a calorie deficit (to preserve your muscle mass), but you are still losing weight and not really gaining muscle, it is not the protein in and of itself that allows you to gain muscle mass.
The reason that total daily protein comes after total daily calories is because you can increase your protein to an absurdly high amount, but if you are not a beginner and still have a calorie deficit, then you will not gain much muscle, if at all.
On the other hand, by increase your caloric intake, you can actually decrease your protein intake a bit, especially if the increase in calories is due to an increase in carbs. This is because by taking in more carbs, your body will then use more carbs, proportionally, throughout the day for energy and oxidize less protein for energy, thus saving and increase your net protein. If you lowered your carbs and increased your protein intake, then your body would respond by oxidizing more protein for energy which would allow less to go towards building your muscle. This is why total calories come first, but total protein is close behind. (As a side note: increasing your fat intake does not make the body burn more fat for its energy needs. Only by decreasing carb/protein intake or fasting for a time period like 4-16 hours will increase percentage of fat used for energy. Furthermore, if you have a lot of fat to lose, then you will already be using a lot of fat at fuel.)
So how much protein should you have? Read More