How to Increase Muscle Mass

I am often asked by my clients how to increase muscle mass through nutrition and exercise. While a healthy, balanced diet and targeted workouts are the general advice I give, one important aspect to consider and look at is how you consume your protein during the recovery period after a tough workout.

The most common protein intake recommendation for endurance and strength athlete is 1.2 to 1.7 g of protein/kg body weight, whereas the Recommended Daily Amount of protein requirement for the average person is 0.8 g of protein/kg body weight. However, timing of protein intake is also a very important factor in how to increase muscle mass and get the most out of your workout. An interesting article in the 2013 Sep/Oct issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Magazine provided some good insight to this topic and I thought I would share the results with you here.

One study published in the J Physiol 2013 issue found that “20 g of whey protein consumed every 3 hours [over 12 hr period] significantly was better at stimulating…protein synthesis throughout the day compared with [one group of men consuming 80 total g of whey protein every 1.5 hrs over 12 hr period & second group of men consuming 40 g of whey protein every 6 hrs over same 12 hr period]” (ACSM’s Health & Fitness, Volpe). The conclusion from this study was upheld by several other studies – that one factor in how to increase muscle mass is through the optimal timing of protein intake: 20 g whey protein every 3 hours after a workout for 12 hrs.

The laymen’s takeaway from these studies is that consuming smaller amounts of protein (and not just protein supplements but also protein from food) throughout the day after your workout is your best bet for maximizing and increasing your muscle mass. Of course, protein is only one part of your daily diet, but an important aspect when considering how to increase muscle mass.