HomebodybuildingHow Much Protein Do You Need to Build Muscle Naturally (Without Drugs)

How Much Protein Do You Need to Build Muscle Naturally (Without Drugs)

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How Much Protein Do You Need to Build Muscle Naturally (Without Drugs)



So in this video, I’m answering a question that I get quite often, which is how much protein do you need to build muscle, naturally? When I say naturally, I mean, without drugs. So, the standard idea as to how much protein you need to build muscle today stands at one gram of protein per pound body weight.

That’s pretty much the universally accepted, bro-science idea as to what you need, if you want to be serious about building muscle. I’m here to say that that’s completely false. You don’t need that much protein, nowhere near. I was able to go from 125 pounds to 198 pounds consuming an average of 120 grams of protein per day, which is far less than one gram of protein per pound of body weight.

And in this video, we’ll talk a little bit about that and how this idea that you need so much protein to build muscle came about. So,  stick around, we’ll talk more about this.

The Popular Protein Requirement of 1 gram of Protein Per Pound Body Weight for Muscle Growth

So in this video, I’m talking about how much protein do you need to build muscle naturally. That’s the important word there, naturally! Without drugs. So before I go any further, I’d like to thank everyone for tuning. I really, and truly appreciate the tremendous support I’ve had so far for this channel.

And I’d also like to acknowledge those people who have taken the time to talk about the fact that they think that we should have a larger viewership. Thanks so much. So be sure to like and subscribe, hit that bell, so you get the new content as it comes out and know also that I’m working tirelessly to constantly produce as much content as I can.

So, today, we’re tackling protein. How much protein do you really need to build muscle? Now, as I said before, the standard bro-science idea is one gram of protein per pound of body weight. And I can’t tell you how many people have come to me and said that they really want to build muscle. They’re really interested in, you know, either being natural bodybuilders or just wanting to have a little more muscle to look good on the beach.

And they feel that it’s something that they can’t do without having to take protein shakes or protein bars. And some of them are vegetarian, some are vegan. And these numbers, one gram per pound of body weight seem to be such that it makes them feel that it’s impossible for them to realize their goals of building muscle and we really just shouldn’t try in the first place.

That’s completely false. It’s completely false because it’s based on a narrative that’s designed to sell protein shakes and designed to sell protein bars and all manner of supplements.

Minimum Dose Reality: If people without drugs consuming in far less protein routinely build muscle, the higher protein intake recommendation is flawed.

But here’s the problem. And I call it the minimum dose reality. If it is possible for someone without using any drugs whatsoever to build muscle on far less protein, if you’re consuming a lot of protein, yes, you will see results. But you will see results, not because your consuming so much protein, you’ll see results because you’re getting enough protein and that you’re exceeding your needs.

Consuming Large Amounts Proteins to Build Muscle May Not Be Necessary

My Drug Free Muscle Gains Protein Intake: How I went from 125lbs to 198.5lbs in natural bodybuilding contest shape with 40% less than the recommended standard.

Now let’s talk about my story. My story, which you probably know by now if you’ve been following along, and if you don’t, I started off as a skinny six foot tall kid who weighed 125 pounds when I walked into the gym and I’m not a user of supplements either.

Early in my career, I couldn’t really afford supplements or when I did, it was really sporadic. But when I started at 14 years old to when I left Trinidad at 20 years old, I went from 125 pounds to 198 ½ pounds in contest shape, not 198 pounds boxed up. We’re talking about cut down.

Kevin's Bodyweight, Muscle Growth and Protein Intake Over Time

That’s a total of 73 and a half pounds, more or less of muscle put on over that period of time, without drugs. Now, most natural bodybuilders don’t put that much muscle on over the course of their career, mainly because most natural body builders don’t start off being severely underweight as I was.

73.5LBS (33KG) in 5 Years Without Drugs

Now, I was six feet tall when I started off and I was still six feet tall when I ended. So, it’s not like I had a growth spurt. And you know, you could say that, you know, I put on some bone mass as I got older. I didn’t, I maintained the same height. In fact, unfortunately I’ve been six feet tall since I was 14 years old, and I really would like to be taller because everybody else with my family is much taller than I am, but let’s not go there.

Bottom line is averaging about 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight, I was able to put on a significant amount of muscle mass. You could look at that and we could go into the error of small numbers and say, well, maybe Kevin was genetically predestined to be someone who puts on a lot of muscle, but it’s not an isolated incident.

Calories Might Matter More Than Protein Intake For Muscle Growth

I’ve worked with and had the honor of working with so many athletes over the course of my 30 year career, all over the world. I’ve worked with athletes in places like Haiti. I’ve worked with athletes in places like Mali. I’ve worked with athletes in the Ivory Coast. I’ve worked with athletes in Kenya. I’ve worked with athletes in, uh, parts of Ethiopia. I’ve also worked with athletes in India. And one of the things that always struck me was the fact that many of them would consume far less protein than you would expect.

important term Nitrogen (N) balance is commonly used as a proxy measure of protein balance (i.e., whether the quantity of protein [or AAs] taken in is sufficient to prevent any net loss of protein)

Yet, they had remarkable physiques, as long as their caloric intake was adequate and they weren’t in a place where they were getting less calories than their body needed over the course of the day. They seemed to be able to build muscle and significant muscle at that.

caloric intake plays a vital role in determining protein requirements

In fact, I think that the world needs to know and be a little bit more aware of the fact that if you’re not living in a Western country, most people don’t have the type of finances to be able to afford, to eat tremendous amounts of protein because protein foods are inherently expensive. It’s not cheap at all to follow a
“regular body building diet.” And, for some, especially in other parts of the world, it could be almost impossible.

My Early Career Protein Foods

I know for a fact, as a student growing up in Trinidad, it was impossible for me to be able to even come close, to be able to afford that much protein. And so, I did what I could with what I had. But the protein I did take came from eggs, it came from chicken breasts and it came from, later in my career, beef. I would buy one pound of beef and cut that into seven equal strips and have one strip per day. And of course, very important, peanut butter. Peanut butter made up a very, very large component of my protein intake. But look at what I was able to do.

Natural Bodybuilding on Just One Meal A Day: The remarkable story of Kenyan natural bodybuilder, Fred Sanya.

And let’s look too at what some of my friends have be able to do. My friend, Fred Sanya from Kenya. You can see here, tremendous, amazing physique. And he ate not more than one meal day. And I’m pretty sure that one meal day, Fred did not have one gram per pound of body weight of protein.

The Remarkable Fred Sanya

And there are other competitors who I’ve worked with over the years with tremendous physiques as well. And most of them were eating three meals a day and were probably at or around that 0.6 grams of protein per pound body weight, and very similar as to what I was using. Now, there’s one more piece of information I can add to this conversation that will help you get some insight as to protein requirements. It’s a tale of two clients.

A Tale Of Two Clients: A study of two clients with radically different protein intakes but the same muscle gains over a 9 month period.

Over the course of my career I’ve had people come to me who wanted to build muscle. Now keep in mind. Most of my clients coming to me are interested in building muscle while also losing body fat. But, especially earlier on, I’d have, were coming to me who were only interested in building muscle. That’s all they wanted. Naturally and without any drugs whatsoever, just like me. And they both had really radically different diets in terms of their protein intake.

One decided that the protein intake that I was recommending was way too low and he was going, slightly over. I think he was going for 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. And the other client I had was listening to what I was saying. And he was consuming somewhere around between 0.6 and 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight, actually, probably close to 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Really close to what I was doing when I was younger. They both were equally committed in the gym. They both gave everything they had. So, we have some consistency there and you’d expect the results to be different. But over the course of, let’s say a nine-month period, with both of them, the results that they got were remarkably similar.

Tale of Two Clients Results

One was pretty much fine. One had to eat every three hours, like on a clock, to get all that protein in. The other didn’t really have to be as, um, meticulous. And they both had pretty much, muscle mass size, the same results. Muscle strength wise, about the same as well. They were both the same height, which was, you know, a good visual reference for me.

And the fact that they were both training at the same time was one of those instances where it gave me an opportunity to say, hey, wait a minute, this is an opportunity. H for me to see what’s gonna happen. And I’ll be honest. I did still think that the client I had who was consuming more protein might have had slightly better results than the one who was consuming less.

Even though I was the one who gave the other one, that diet, I will say it somewhere in the back of my head. Like maybe I’m wrong, maybe higher protein does equal more muscle mass. But that’s not what happened. And so how did this idea that you needed so much protein come into fruition?

How Misconceptions Come About: Dieting natural bodybuilders who have higher protein requirements are often mistakenly used as examples of how much protein you need to build muscle naturally

It comes from some misconceptions. It comes also from, like I said before, marketing. But there’s also a difference between trying to build muscle and trying to maintain muscle. You see, if you are restricting your calories and trying to minimize your body fat, you need a tremendous amount of protein in order to maximize the amount of muscle mass that you’re able to retain as you cut down.

studies consistently show greater preservation of lean mass (muscle) with higher-protein energy-restriction diets

Bodybuilders, natural bodybuilders, tend to eat a lot of protein. Somewhere around one gram per pound of body weight when they’re cutting down or to maintain muscle mass, because muscle mass can be very easily lost. As you restrict your calories.

connection between energy intake and nitrogen balance

People see that. They say, all right, that guy’s in great shape. Look how much protein he’s eating. That’s how much you need in order to put muscle on. But that’s not how much was required to get there. That’s how much was required to go from being on the bulked-up side to cutting down. Now I don’t bulk up ever, and I’m always at the same level, so it’s a little bit different.

When Kevin was younger and tried the a low calorie diet

Understanding Survival-Based Adaptation: Why the bigger you get the LESS protein your body needs to maintain muscle mass.

And there’s one more thing that we don’t talk about as far as protein intake, which is the bigger you get and the more muscle you put on, as long as you’re getting enough calories, the less protein you need. I’m gonna say it again. The bigger you get, and the more muscle you put on, as long as you’re getting enough calories, the less protein your body needs, because our body tries to maintain what’s called equilibrium. Homeostasis.

After just a month of training there is a drop in the amount of protein required to maintain protein balance

It tries to stay exactly where it is at all times. So, if over the years you’ve put on a certain amount of muscle mass, it’s going to do its best to try to maintain that equilibrium of having a certain amount of muscle mass and try to be as efficient as possible with the food and the intake coming in to maintain it.

So, putting on muscle mass requires slightly more than maintaining muscle mass, in that, I could probably eat and have eaten less than 0.6 grams of protein per day. And as long as I was getting enough calories, I didn’t see any change in my muscle mass. I didn’t lose any weight. Now it’s not how I eat at all, but I have done it and nothing happened.

I didn’t magically wilt away. I didn’t magically fade away. And I think it’s important we talk about this because especially those who are vegan and vegetarian, who are trying to put muscle on, they tend to feel that it’s impossible because even if you’re eating animal proteins, it’s hard to get in a tremendous amount of protein.

the average chicken breast yields 30 grams of protein

And if you are not then it’s even more because the sheer bulk amount of food, you’d have to congest to get one gram of protein per pound of body weight, it can be overwhelming. It is overwhelming and it’s unnecessary. And if you think about it, at no point in time of our being on this planet from what we went from working on all fours to walking, you know, on two feet, did we have access to 30 grams of protein every three hours.

Increased muscle mass comes with an increase in strength and speed

Never happened. I don’t know how people envisioned imagining a time in our ancestral past where that was, but that’s not how our bodies evolved. Our bodies evolved to do what it can do under very harsh conditions and harsh circumstances. That’s why I’ve said, and that’s why I understand and it makes total sense that people who have extremely limited supplies of protein, but get just enough calories to get by are able to put on a significant amount of muscle mass.

But there’s one more thing I’d like to talk about that’s not talked about as well in that, it’s about how hard you train.

How training intensity may be even more important than high protein intake for building muscle.

Every single one of those people who I worked with and who I spoke with who were in other countries and who were just like me, didn’t have access to that much protein. We all trained exceptionally hard, not just hard, exceptionally hard. And I can tell you from experience as well, when it comes down to it, it’s really a matter of how hard you’re training. Moreso than a matter of how much protein you’re taking in, to a degree.

The Steroid Perspective Problem: How the popularity of drug using athletes places them in the position of setting the standards for protein intakes and bodybuilding nutrition information in general, when their intakes are not applicable to the general public.

We have to bear in mind as well that people who use steroids, one of the primary effects of anabolic steroids is increased protein synthesis. So, someone who ingests one gram per pound of body weight of protein, who is using steroids, is going to use a lot more of that protein than someone who is naturally consuming one gram protein per pound of body weight.

steroids increase protein synthesis and nitrogen retention

But because athletes who use drugs are the ones talking about what the standards are, are the ones in the magazines are the ones who get the most coverage. You’ll almost never see a natural bodybuilder, in fact, you won’t, with a ridiculously high social media following. You won’t see them in the magazines, no one even really covers natural bodybuilding competitions. And so, the information out there about bodybuilding tends to be perpetuated by those people who use steroids.

And they say what they’re doing. And they also have this strange way of thinking that somehow what they are doing is applicable to people who don’t use drugs, it’s not. There’s no comparison whatsoever. It’s apples and oranges. And I think it’s important that we start looking at the fact that too much of our information when it comes to nutrition is coming from people who are on steroids, especially from those who are on steroids and who don’t say they aren’t steroids. That’s part of the dangers as well.

Drug Using Athletes are Far More Featured that Natural Ones

So, I hope this video helps gives you some perspective when it comes to protein intake and also takes away this burden idea that you need to take protein shakes and supplements and protein bars to get this high amount of protein into your body to grow because you don’t. If you’re not using steroids, you don’t need that much protein.

Your body will do just fine, but it does take a little bit of a leap of faith. It’s hard when everyone around you is doing something different. It’s hard when everyone around you is saying, use more protein, use more protein, use more protein, because I’ve been there. But, give it a try and I’m sure you’re gonna be surprised by the results.

Thanks again so much for tuning in and most importantly, Excelsior.


5th Avenue Gym circa 2009- 5 years out from my last show.

As you can see, trophies and competitions were NEVER the driving force behind why I train the way I train and why I eat the way I eat.

It's always been my passion to see how far I could go as a natural athlete and perhaps even more so, to show what can be accomplished without using drugs.

And 5th Avenue Gym was the perfect place to do it.

I really miss that gym.

It was a place where legends came to train and while it wasn't pretty, it had everything we needed to do the work we needed to do.

And boy did we work!!!

5th Avenue for life as they say!!!

Hope you are still training hard and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

And thanks @pit_bulls_67 for snapping the shot!!!!

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #throwback #fifthavenuegym #5thavenuegym #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildinglifestyle #gym #gymlife #gymmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #bodybuilding #bodybuildinggym

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Why Are Pull Ups So Hard For Some But Not For Others?

Pull ups are an exercise people love to hate!

They love to hate it because in my experience, most untrained men or women can't do one pull up and those who train can often struggle to do 6 or 10.


Because pull ups are hard!

And yet people like myself can easily do as many as 20-25!

So what's the reason for this discrepancy?

Is there some secret that allows me and others to do pullups so easily?

There isn't, and in this video I go over exactly why I can do as many as I can and why it can be so much harder for others.

I also go over my #1 pull up variant that ANYONE can do, even if you can't do one pull up.

And yet it can build strength and muscle size in some cases even more so than regular pull ups!

So click the link in my bio to see the full video on YouTube or go to my channel by looking up naturallyintense!

Thanks in advance for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#pullups #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #backworkout #pullupworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #backtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #hometraining #trainingtips #bodybuildingtips

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Maximize Biceps Growth With High Intensity Arm Blaster Hammer Curls!

50lb Dumbbells For 20 reps!

The Arm Blaster is a fantastic piece of equipment for a home gym or any gym!

It doesn't take up much space and allows you to add variety to your biceps training.

It locks your elbows in place, thus increasing training intensity, and by doing a hammer curl, you can use more weight (thus increasing intensity even more) and target your brachialis muscles which help add density to your biceps!

This was my last set and I couldn't go any heavier as I am still nursing a wrist injury, but the 50lbers were more than enough to do the job!

Try them out next time you train arms and let me know how it goes!!!

Still training, hope you are too and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #nuobell #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #armworkout #bicepsworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #biceps #armtraining #bicepsworkout #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding#powertec #armblaster #hammercurls

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Injury-Proof Your Training: The Power of Workout Variation!

One of the main reasons why I can still train heavy and intensely at 49 after 35 years of nonstop training without any training related overuse injuries is the fact that I vary EVERY workout!

Overuse injuries come from doing the same movements over and over and by always changing your routine, you radically lessen the likelihood of chronic injury.

Squats, deadlifts, barbell curls and bench presses are great exercises, but if you do them all the time, you do increase the odds of getting injured.

And as a natural athlete, it bears mentioning that it takes years to realize your full potential, and so it's crucial to have a training program that is sustainable, and one that will allow you to train injury free for as long as I have or longer!

Thanks so much for tuning in and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #injuryprevention #fitover40 #workout #gymlife #workouttips #trainingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #drugfreebodybuilding #highintensitytraining #injuryfreetraining #longevity

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High Intensity Training Leg Extensions To Failure!
And as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips #hometraining #homeworkout #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #naturalbodybuildingtraining #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #legextensions #legday #legworkout #powertec #legdayworkout

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This Is What 35 Years of Natural Bodybuilding Looks Like!

So as you know, As you may know I recently turned 49 and every year I do a photoshoot to show my progression.

In the hopes of showing that you can not only maintain a level of excellence as the years go by, but that you can do it without steroids, TRT, drugs or even pre-workouts and protein shakes!

(I’ve never had a pre-workout or energy drink and haven’t had a protein shake in decades!)

You don't need it as all it does make you forget tht excellence doesn’t require anything outside of yourself.

You already have all the tools you need!

Not a huge fan of taking photos of myself, (I much prefer being behind the camera) but I humbly try to be one example of just how much you can achieve with proper training and an uncompromisingly proper diet!

So here I am again at 49 and I am looking forward to seeing what you accomplish over the years as well!!! Thanks so much for tuning in and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #highintensitytraining #drugfreebodybuilding #nodrugs #fitover40 #fitoverforty

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High Intensity Arm Training- 50lb Concentration Curls!

There are two basic types of exercises, compound movements like barbell curls and isolation movements like concentration curls.

If you want above average arm development, you have to go hard on all exercises.

Isolation movements included, especially if you are drug free as we don't have the privilege of maximum growth from anything less than putting in some seriously hard work!

You have to go to that dark place where you can barely get the weight to move and do whatever it takes to get it up!

And then somehow find it in you to do it again!!!

You can't intellectualize it, you just have to do it and believe!!!

This was my third and last set and so I went all out!

My wrist is still a bit off so not going ultra heavy (by my standards) but
this was a hard set!

I haven't done concentration curls in a while, so I am really sore right now as I type this out two days after the workout!

Bear in mind that I always try to change it up and no one exercise is done every time I train.

Never training to maintain, always working hard to gain!!!

Still training and I hope you are too!!!

Thanks for tuning in and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #roguerack #nuobell #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #armworkout #bicepsworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #biceps #armtraining #bicepsworkout #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding

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Unlock Your Natural Potential By Varying Your Workouts!
For the past 32 years I have always done a different workout every time I trained.

I have never followed a set program of exercises and the only unifying aspect of my workouts is the blistering intensity!

I train three times a week with a protocol I call Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, and what distinguishes it from other forms of high intensity training is the constant variety.

Muscles grow in response to overload and UNACCUSTOMED stimulation.

Remember when you first started training how effective everything seemed to be, but over time that progress slowly ground to a halt.

You change your routine and see some progress, but the gains in size and strength inevitably fall off over time if you don't make a change.

Now what if you never left that "beginner gains" stage and were always training with different exercises and radically different ways of doing the exercises every single time?

You would be where I am, not having experienced a plateau over the past 32 years and be able to really start unlocking your natural potential!

How does it all work, and how would you measure progression? Watch the full video on YouTube by clicking on my bio link, or going to my YouTube channel (Naturally Intense) and see for yourself!

I really think it can help make a difference in your overall progress, and best of all, it helps you avoid injuries so you can keep training hard for years on end! Thanks in advance for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #workout #workouttips #fitover40 #gymlife #workoutmotivation #trainingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #drugfreebodybuilding #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips #HIT

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Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardsonhttps://www.naturallyintense.net
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net

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