If you're looking to gain weight and build muscle mass then a high protein diet plan is of high importance to you. Without adequate protein intakes every single day you won't be able to support any real muscle growth. This article will take a look at what protein is exactly, what amino acids are, a look at good sources of protein, and other tips on following a high protein diet.
What Is Protein Exactly?
Protein is actually a nitrogen which contains compounds found in animal and vegetable tissue. Protein is used for muscle tissue repair and synthesis.
The nitrogen in protein comes from amino acids. Amino acids are basically the building blocks of protein, and there are 20 different amino acids commonly found in protein. 8 of these amino acids are essential and only come from food.
The 8 essential amino acids for building muscle are:
You don't need to know about these amino acids to create a high protein diet plan. But just know that without them you couldn't build muscle, so you need to provide your body with plenty of quality proteins that contain these amino acids.
If you're looking to gain muscular weight then your high protein diet plan must take this into account. You need to feed your muscles protein every 2-3 hours to keep them in an anabolic state. An anabolic state is simply a state where muscle tissue is repairing and growing, which is what you want.
When you eat protein, your body can only use a limited amount of it at one time. So that's why you need to eat smaller, more frequent meals to give your muscles the protein that it needs to grow larger and stronger throughout the day.
Different protein sources have different ratios of each amino acid. The good sources of protein for promoting muscle building will have all of the 8 essential amino acids present at the same time and in the right proportions.
Animal proteins do contain all 8 of the essential aminos for muscle growth which is perfect for you. On the other hand, vegetable protein sources don't have as good of a amino acid profile.
Like animal protein, they do contain all 8 essential amino acids, but the bad thing with vegetable protein is they have lesser amounts of the aminos and in the wrong proportions. So overall, animal protein is likely to be the better protein source to build muscle mass (although there are some vegans who disagree).
Animal protein such as red meat, chicken, fish and eggs are all examples of a complete protein source since they contain all the essential amino acids to build muscle mass.
Incomplete protein sources such as nuts, beans, and vegetables aren't as good for promoting muscle building, but when combined together then can become a complete source of protein for you.
Red meat is perhaps one of the best protein sources you can have, nothing beats a good steak. As well as being very high in quality protein red meat also contains some creatine too, although only in small amounts. Leaner cuts of red meat are better for you, so try to get them as lean as you can.
Chicken breast and tuna are also very good sources of protein for your high protein diet plan. Same with other types of fish such as salmon. Eggs are a quality source too, but you need to be careful if eating too much egg because of the cholesterol in them. Just don't go overboard with eggs in your high protein diet plan.
If you're not lactose intolerant, then milk can become an excellent source of protein too. The added calcium from drinking milk is a great bonus too. The bad thing about milk though is the high sugar content, so it may help you add on some extra body fat if you're not careful.
Here is a list of high protein foods that you should consider for your high protein diet plan:
Variation is a good idea when it comes to selecting protein sources for your high protein diet plan. Getting your daily protein requirements from a variety of different sources will give your body a range of different amino acid quantities and ratios.
To promote muscle mass growth you should be eating a minimum of 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 180 pounds then you should be eating at least 180 grams of protein every single day.
This may seem like a lot, but it's necessary if you want to maximize your muscle mass gains. Weight training workouts highly increases your need of protein and amino acids to repair lost muscle tissue and grow new ones.
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land. Information is great, but what's infinitely more important and the only thing that actually matters to get results and change your life is to be hitting the gym week in week out, with a properly-structured, intelligently-crafted (based on science-backed principles) and overall well-balanced strength training and nutrition plan to effetcively build muscle as a skinny guy (AKA a lifting hardgainer). When you have a great program used by other successful hardgainers that have gone before you, you can't go wrong if you simply stick with it.
But here's the thing:
You don't just randomly stumble upon a highly-effective program that's designed specifically for hardgainers by simply browsing a popular fitness magazine, site, or forum (or asking your average run of the mill personal trainer at a local gym who is highly likely to be just repeating the same old ineffective, incomplete mainstream advice they learned in the classroom). No, instead, to create the best weight training and nutrition program for maximum results, you must be a little more selective in the program you choose to follow.
So, here are the 3 different paths you can take to guarantee you follow a finely-tuned, effective program that will leave nothing to chance and give you the best muscle building and strength gains of your life (again, if you simply execute and don't quit after a mere week 'cause you don't notice a change...).
See our flagship 7-step introductory guide to building muscle for beginners which covers all the basics you need to know, and guides you through designing and creating an effective program for muscle gain without getting fat. If you don't want to spend any money buying a pre-made program or finding a (good) personal trainer, and/or you're the DIY type who enjoys researching every little detail and knowing about how everything works and fits together, this is probably the path for you if you have the patience.
If you don't want to take the time to plan your own natural bodybuilding plan from scratch, following an already made, high-quality, credible program from a true expert in this field can save you a ton of time.
It can give you a great head start on your transformation journey and makes things a whole lot simpler as it's simply a matter of understanding what the program involves, how to do perform all the exercises, how to execute on the included meal plans (taking into account your own perferences as you'll want to tweak any pre-made diet plan for your own needs), and then simply executing week in and week out.
Sean Nal's popular hardgainer program is the one I currently recommend most, as it's the most complete, easy to follow program for beginners that I've seen (and I've experimented with many over the years). It's also the exact program that initially changed everything for me and I owe a fair part of my overall hardgainer success (going from 132lbs/60kg to 220lbs/100kg - mostly muscle) to being fortunate enough to having stumbled upon this program when I was struggling with gaining weight and building muscle. See my full review of Sean Nal's program here.
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer
This isn't for everyone though as a quality trainer who knows what they're doing, and most importantly has got great results themselves (ideally starting out in similar shoes to you) can be quite costly. This is the path you should probably really consider if you have any type of serious injury though.
Whichever path you choose, never forget the single most important thing: never give up, and your success in transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and self-confidence will simply be a matter of when, not if. I'd say good luck, but if you really understand that last sentence, you're not gonna need it, friend. I wish you nothing but success.
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12+ Years
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)