To build muscle you need to challenge your body. It doesn’t matter what the exercise method is: your muscles and nervous system don’t know the difference between an arm curl or a pull-up. Your body responds to the varying amounts of stress and tension you put it through.

During a bicep curl or a squat session, your muscles experience micro tears that require repair; this is where protein comes in. According to the American Chemical Society,  foods like red meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and eggs are packed with protein which, when consumed, are broken down into amino acids.

Amino acids are one of the main reasons your muscles repair and get bigger:

The damage in your muscles sends out signals for amino acids to convert into new muscles and satellite cells, which are responsible for reinforcing the tear to make it bigger and which ultimately make you stronger. It is essential that you have enough amino acids helping out your muscle-building system if you want your muscles to grow. What this means is that you need to be filtering in the right amount of protein dependent on your level of training and age.

Muscle growth only occurs when you’ve got enough of those amino acids to repair all of the micro tears, and then some, to further muscle growth later on. If you don’t eat enough protein, the tiny tears in the muscle won’t repair themselves, and you’ll be left weaker than before your workout.

So how much protein do you actually need?

According to Harvard Medical School, relatively active adults require protein of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight. For a 80kg person, that adds up to 64 grams of protein per day. However if you’re an all star athlete, you need to ramp that up; your consumption would be around 1.8 grams of protein per kg (that means 144 grams of protein if you weigh 80kgs).

A cardinal rule: eat roughly 20 grams of protein right after a workout to repair your tears. But here’s the catch. If you not as active throughout the day and you’re continually skipping your training sessions, your protein intake will turn into an excess of calories and that means fat – if you’re not giving your body any reason to grow.

If you’re interested in no nonsense tips to build muscle – take a look at our article How To Build Muscle