If you’re trying to build muscle mass, it’s understandable to what to do everything possible. With that in mind, you’ve probably seen many advertisements or comments around the internet that protein powder is a must-have supplement to build muscle.
So, can you build muscle without protein powder?
While protein powder can help you build muscle mass, it’s not the only way to achieve this goal. Whether you don’t want to or can’t consume protein powders, there are many other effective ways to achieve muscle growth.
Can you build muscle without protein powder?
Yes, definitely! Let’s not waste any time. Follow these six tips to gain lean muscle mass without any protein powders.
1. Start (or adjust) your workout program
Muscle growth happens when your muscles receive small micro tears. The same tears that occur when you lift weights. When people wonder can you build muscle without protein powder, I tell them to start a training program.
Here are several helpful beginner exercise tips I wished I had known when I started working out:
- Start lightly: Your first workouts should be at most 15 to 25 minutes. Starting with six sets instead of 15 sets a bodybuilder performs keeps you from getting injured and being very, very, very sore.
- Lift weights you can manage: This tip will be tough if you have an ego. My second tip is to leave your ego at the door unless you want to injure yourself. When starting, use light weights.
- Focus on proper form: There’s a proper way to do each exercise. If you’re new to the muscle-building process, knowing how to perform each exercise keeps you safe and provides the best results.
At this point, you might say, “But what if I already work out and aren’t achieving enough muscle growth?” I hear you. That’s why I mentioned adjusting workout programs.
If you currently work out and aren’t building muscle tissue, your muscles might be used to your training routine. That’s why people who want to gain muscle but don’t change how they work out experience muscle plateaus.
Can a supplement like whey protein help with post-weight training muscle-building? Yes, but as you’ll see, it’s not the only way to build muscle mass after lifting weights.
2. Consume protein-rich foods and drinks
Fortunately, there are many foods and even beverages that contain muscle-building protein. You don’t have to worry about scanning everything at your supermarket to find out how much protein it contains.
Here’s a quick list of protein-rich foods and drinks that will increase your daily protein intake:
- Milk: Who says your protein has to come from only food? Drinking a glass of milk helps you gain lean muscle mass unless you’re lactose intolerant. How much protein does milk contain? Eight grams of protein per cup.
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.): If you want to lose body fat as you build muscle, poultry such as turkey and chicken breast are lean meats low in calories and full of high-quality protein.
- Seafood (shrimp, tuna, lobster, etc.): Other protein-rich foods fall into the seafood category, including canned tuna, which is a bodybuilding staple for some people.
- Red meats (steak, roast, ground beef, etc.): Unfortunately, red meat isn’t generally as healthy as leaner types of poultry. But there’s also no better way to gain lean muscle mass than with steaks and thick cheeseburgers.
3. Track your daily protein intake
What’s just as important as what you eat is tracking what you consume each day. I know it seems like a lot of work. But tracking your calorie and protein intake is majorly beneficial when building muscle.
When I first started resistance training, I would work out fairly hard and stay skinny. As I began researching this online, many people mentioned the importance of tracking daily protein consumption.
Workouts got easier within about two weeks of tracking my grams of protein per day, and I began noticeably bulking up.
Best of all, you don’t need an expensive tool to track your calorie intake. I’ve used several free smartphone apps that do the same thing throughout the past decade. If you’re serious about your diet and tracking what you eat, spending a few bucks and unlocking these apps’ additional features could be worthwhile.
After you find the calorie tracker of choice, most of them work like this:
- You enter basic information about yourself (height, body weight, body fat, etc.)
- As you eat or drink something, find the matching item in your app and add it to your daily calorie intake.
- These apps automatically calculate how much protein, carbohydrates, fats, and calories you consume daily.
4. Get more sleep
In this fast-paced world, you’re probably used to people telling you to do more and more! Can you build muscle without protein powder? Yes, especially if you get enough sleep!
I’m happy to give you permission to get more sleep. Why? Because getting a good night’s rest helps you build lean muscle mass.
As you sleep, your body heals and repairs itself. If you spent the day running or participating in resistance training, your body would repair and restore its muscles as you sleep.
So, how much sleep is enough? Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommend that adults get at least seven hours or more of sleep per night.
While sleeping enough helps build muscle, your sleep quality is just as important. And this is from the owner of a mattress known to provide some occasional hard-to-sleep nights.
According to the Casper-Gallup State of Sleep in America 2022 Report, 33% of adults surveyed reported getting “fair” or “poor” sleep each night.
Getting a good night’s rest helps support muscle growth and gives you the mental energy needed to take on an upcoming day.
5. Build muscle without protein powder by using other supplements
There are plenty of other beneficial products for weightlifters besides protein supplements. Whether you want something that provides fat-burning weight loss or a way to build muscle without protein, there are many supplements on the market.
You can build muscle without protein powder. Just give the following supplements a try:
- Amino acids: If you’re not using protein powders, an amino acid supplement is the next best thing for more lean muscle mass. Amino acids convert into protein that becomes muscle tissue.
- Pre-workouts: You need the energy to put in the work required to gain muscle. If you lack energy, think of a pre-workout supplement like a super-charged energy drink. These supplements contain caffeine, vitamins, and other nutrients to improve your workout results.
- Creatine: Another helpful supplement for muscle-building results is creatine. Like amino acids, your body also produces creatine naturally. However, a creatine supplement provides even more energy your muscles require to gain size and strength.
- Fish oil: As many people can tell you, building muscles can make you sore (especially when you’re new to weightlifting). Fortunately, as gross as it might sound, a fish oil supplement helps heal sore muscles. This means not dealing with post-workout muscle soreness.
6. Vary Your Workout Repetitions
I am wrapping things up with one more workout-related tip. Throughout the past 10 years, I ran into times when I had trouble gaining new muscle. Something I read about that helped me activate more muscle fiber was to mix up my reps.
For example, you typically do eight sets of five to seven reps each while lifting weights. Doing this each time you lift weights activates the same muscle fibers, often resulting in a plateau.
Mix up your workouts with individual sets of either low or high reps each week or every few weeks. You should notice that familiar burn as you activate new muscle fibers with mixed-up rep ranges.
Can you build muscle without protein powder? Of course! You’ll get the best results by working out, getting protein from food sources, resting, and mixing up how you exercise. Be patient, and you’ll find yourself rewarded with serious muscle gains!