I’m a 180 lb. guy looking to skinny up and build muscle. Lifting a bunch lately. Running a bit. How much protein should I eat in grams per day?

– Kenneth B.


Depending on your age and height, your estimated daily protein needs for your goals look to fall in the 90-115 gram range. That’s about 1.1-1.4 gm/kg. As you progress with regular intense training, upwards of 1.6 gm/kg (131 gms) may be needed.  Whether you lose fat or gain muscle also has to do with your total calories. If you’re undereating severely, you’ll need more protein. If your calories are beyond adequate, less protein is used for muscle development.

In addition to the amount of protein, you should focus on the quality of your protein and nutrient timing. Fatty sources of protein like sausage, cheese and regular ground beef contribute too many calories. Poultry breast, fish, loin and round cuts of beef/pork, beans and eggs are lean or medium-fat protein sources more likely to help you get thinner. Gulping down a 16 oz steak at once will not load muscles adequately. Instead, consume about 30 grams of protein per sitting, including breakfast. For supplements, a whey, casein, soy protein blend is ideal for longer-lasting protein delivery to working muscles.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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