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Proper Protein for Building Muscle Mass

by Karen Massey, INTEGRIS registered licensed dietitian

Protein is important for building muscle mass, but what is the proper serving size of protein to achieve your goal? Karen Massey, a registered licensed dietitian with INTEGRIS discusses the proper nutrition for building muscle.

I am Karen Massey, a registered, licensed dietitian with INTEGRIS Health and I am with "I On Your Health" today to talk about muscle mass.

This is one pound of muscle. It's a model, but this is precious stuff. There's only one way to get this stuff, and that's to work out. There's only one way to keep it, and that's to keep working out. And when we stop, muscle shrinks. So if you don't use it, you lose it — that is true. But there's a lot of misinformation that floats around about nutrition and building muscle mass.

When we're looking at building muscle mass, first of all, the relationship between exercise and nutrition can't be separated. When you are exercising, when you are strength training, you're not actually building muscle —  you're actually tearing it down; you're anabolic, on purpose, of course, because these tiny microscopic tears, when we impose an overload by strength training. When we stop training, the nutrition, all the nutrients, will rush to the tissue to build, and repair, and restore these tiny microscopic tears. And when they restore the tissue, during the recovery process, the muscle can actually become bigger, stronger — you become more fit.

One of the misnomers, though, is that this process takes a lot of protein — not so. Not really. It takes some, but maybe not in the way we have been approaching it. You see bodybuilders, and they're downing protein drinks, and bars, and all kinds of potions to get their protein as high as they can to build muscle. We now know that the body, really, can only assimilate about 30 grams of protein at a time. That's about four ounces of chicken, or meat, or a protein food. We can only assimilate about 30 grams at a time.

And so we now know, about building muscle mass, that it's much more important to station protein throughout the day, maybe a serving -- a good serving-- of breakfast, lunch, dinner, perhaps as a snack, but not striving to eat these large amounts of protein at one setting, because they really aren't serving the purpose of building body mass, if that's your goal.