“Eat big to get big. Eat protein to build more muscle”
At the surface, this makes sense. After all it works for our fat right? The more calories we eat the bigger our fat gets, so it makes some sort of sense that the more protein we eat the bigger our muscles will get.
What we are describing is a basic dose-response relationship.
A very simplified version of a dose-response relationship would be the relationship between calorie surplus and body weight.
If we eat in a way that creates a constant caloric surplus we will gain weight until we are no longer gaining weight, because well…our body could no longer support the weight and the metabolic implications of the excess fat and we have died (morbid, I know).
This relationship is dependent on the form and function of our body fat. Our fat (adipose tissue) is a storage vesicle. It’s purpose (or more appropriately it’s function) is to store excess energy in the form of body fat.
And it’s special characteristics (form) allow it to do so incredibly well. Fat can expand with almost unlimited ability. It is not uncommon for a morbidly obese person to have more than 60% of their body weight derived from their fat mass!
Unfortunately this same dose-response relationship does not exist with muscle. Healthy human beings (who are not using anabolic steroids), cannot simply grow ever increasing amounts of muscle by eating ever increasing amounts of protein.
This is because skeletal muscle is not a storage form of protein. It’s form and function are for contraction (to move our bodies) and thus they are not designed to simply expand and store proteins when we eat more proteins.
In fact, the majority of the weight of your skeletal muscles doesn’t even come from protein! Only 20% of muscle weight is from protein, of which only 50% is actual structural contractile proteins (the rest are cellular proteins like enzymes and the like). The rest is fluid.
If there were a true dose-response relationship between dietary protein and protein organs in our body, then not only would a high protein diet cause our muscles to grow with unlimited potential, but it would also have the same effect on our heart, our gastrointestinal system and most of our other organs.
So this is where a large mistake is often made…treating our muscles like they are fat..able to simply expand and contract depending on our calorie balance or protein balance. The truth is the form and function of fat tissue is what allows it to react this way to a caloric surplus, while the form and function of muscles allow us to stand, walk, and pick up heavy things.
PS- More on protein – If you are interested in the answer to “How much protein do I need to eat to build muscle” then you just might be interested in my new book “How Much Protein?” Available for the next 3 days for FREE when you purchase my book Eat Stop Eat.
If you want to know the truth about how to lose fat and build muscle, then these two books are my best answer!