How much protein is too much for building muscle? This study has the answer

Smashing in loads and loads of protein won't make a massive difference to your gains

Woman drinking a protein drink
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We all know the importance of getting our daily protein intake, particularly if we are strength training and want to build muscle. Adding protein powder into our diet is the easiest way to do this, but is there such a thing as ‘too much’ protein? Well, a recent study has revealed there is, so you may want to hold back on that fifth shake of the day.

Recent research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has revealed that consuming more protein than your body needs, won’t provide any extra benefit to your muscle gains. Just to point out, it’s not saying there’s a negative effect of consuming too much protein but, if it’s not going to provide any extra benefit, is there a point? 

Let’s jump into the study…

Close up shot of bodybuilder hands taking protein powder and mixing with water on bottle by shaking at gym - concept of muscular gain, nutritional supplement and wellness

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This study was quite simple; 48 males between the age of 18 and 36 trained four times a week consuming either 1.6g per kg per day of protein, or 3.2g per kg. At the end of the 16 weeks, gains in lean mass and strength were found to be similar across both groups, revealing that consuming more protein doesn’t equal more gains. There were no downsides for the group that doubled their protein intake either, and the study also showed that liver and kidney function was normal.

Similarly, a 2018 systematic review, which looked at research from 49 studies also found that “protein supplementation beyond a total daily protein intake of 1.6 g per kg per day provided no further benefits in muscle mass or strength".

When looking to increase strength and size, the general consensus is to consume anywhere between 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. But what this study has made evident is that you don't need to go into protein panic mode and start smashing in the shakes thinking 'more is better'. Yes, a bit more may be needed to help you achieve your goals, but too much more isn't going to get you them any quicker, clearly.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.