High protein intake is the second most important element of making a positive change in your physique, both during a fat loss phase and during a growth period. (The first is of course calorie intake.)
- During a muscle-building phase, a greater proportion of what you gain will be muscle (instead of fat) when you eat a higher percentage of protein.
- During a fat loss phase, eating a greater amount of protein will allow you to maintain muscle or even gain it, which means most of the weight you lose will come from fat.
When you're natural, it's not just about consuming as much protein as you can. You have a limited capacity to add muscle mass. So adding too much protein won't be of much use and could even reduce the anabolic impact of protein through an increase in deamination and an increase of the conversion of amino acids into glucose.
Drug users don't really have that problem because the anabolic steroids increase protein synthesis 24/7 which allows them to use a much higher amount of protein to build muscle. That's why you sometimes see pro-bodybuilders consuming 400-plus grams of protein.
- During a mass-gaining phase, bumping protein intake up to 1 to 1.25 grams per pound of body weight is where most naturals should be.
- During a fat loss phase, you can actually go up to 1.25 to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight.
Ingesting more protein when you're dieting down is a good approach since it'll likely decrease muscle breakdown and help maintain a stable blood sugar level, which will decrease cortisol production.