Can You Build Muscle Without Protein Powder?

Protein Powder
Can You Really Build Muscle Without Protein Powder?

 The Role of Nutrition in Muscle Building

A goal shared amongst most bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts is increasing their muscle mass to improve cardiovascular health, increase physical strength, and get into shape. One of the natural contributors to muscle building is protein. Protein forms the building blocks of your muscle structure, helping them increase in bulk and repair themselves after heavy exertion.

Besides engaging in physical exercises, you must also be mindful of how much protein you consume. Though plenty of meats and salads provide adequate protein, some will use supplements to increase or meet their daily protein intake. A popular example of this type of supplement is protein powder.

Protein powder can help fulfill your body’s basic nutritional needs, but it is still a relatively new method of changing a workout diet. This article will help answer whether salads can build muscles without protein powder.

Protein Powder
Tips for building muscle mass

What is Protein Powder?

Protein powder is a nutritional supplement that makes up for any protein deficiencies in your body. They can aid with muscle growth, repair damaged tissue, and increase the production of enzymes and hormones necessary for physical and mental faculties.

Listed below are the main types of protein powder:

  • Whey: This animal-based powder can be mixed with water, contains essential amino acids, and is quickly absorbed by your body. It helps increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis and promotes the growth of lean muscles.
  • Casein: This animal-based powder helps increase the rate of muscle growth and recovery following a workout; however, it takes longer to digest and could be dangerous to those with dairy allergies.
  • Soy: This plant-based powder also contains essential amino acids which aid with weight loss, help provide a boost of energy, balance hormones, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Pea: This plant-based powder has a high amount of arginine and iron and is safe for lactose-intolerant or gluten-allergic individuals. This can aid with muscle growth, promote weight loss, and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Hemp: This plant-based powder contains fatty acids and is safe for individuals with soy or dairy allergies. This can increase the rate of your metabolism, provide a boost of energy, strengthen your immune system, promote weight loss, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Pros & Cons of Protein Powder

Depending on your current physical condition and the intensity of your fitness routines, protein powder could be beneficial or detrimental to your health. Listed below are the pros and cons of protein powder:


  • Increases muscle size and strength
  • Help you feel full longer after eating a meal
  • Increase and keep the metabolic rate at its peak
  • Provides essential amino acids the body cannot produce
  • Provides a boost of energy, nutrition, and calories
  • Can reduce blood pressure & risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Increased rate of recovery for muscles after a workout


  • Overconsumption could cause the following:
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Can overwork and cause kidney problems
  • High sugar and oil content could cause weight gain
  • It may contain stimulants, steroids, and harmful metals
  • Not suited for vegans or individuals with allergies

If you do not want to run the risk of suffering health issues due to protein powder consumption, do not worry. It is possible to do workouts that ensure optimal lean muscle development without the benefits of protein powder.

Consult Your Doctor

A person talking to the doctor
Get a checkup to see if a certain plan is appropriate for you.

Before you start high-frequency training without using protein supplements, make an appointment with and speak with your doctor. Undergoing a check-up will help the doctor evaluate your current physical health, identify any health issues, and recommend safe exercises. Make sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions you may have that could worsen due to a sudden lifestyle change. Telling as much information about your health as possible will ensure your doctor offers the most impartial and accurate workout plan possible.

Creating Your Protein Diet

Foods for protein
How to Boost Your Protein Intake Without Using Powder Supplements

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the average daily protein intake per kilogram of body weight should be 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women. However, the statistics listed above are for individuals with an average build who engage in a moderate level of exercise. 

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, individuals who engage in intense physical exertion should consume at least 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. In the absence of protein powder, you will have to find other sources of protein to include in your meals.

Listed below are food groups known for having lots of protein and specific examples belonging to each category:

  • Lean Meats
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb

  • Poultry

  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Lobsters
  • Oysters
  • Clams

  • Dairy
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Low-Fat Milk

  • Legumes & Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Split Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Lima Beans

  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds

Planning Pre- & Post-Workout Meals

Before starting a workout, make sure to eat a hearty protein-rich meal at least 30 minutes beforehand to give your stomach time to digest and let your body absorb the nutrients to give you the energy needed.

After you finish a workout, make sure to eat another high-protein meal within 30 minutes to ensure your muscles recover and repair themselves faster. Make sure to include balanced amounts of carbohydrates and fats to replenish any calories lost during training.

In case you miss a meal or have difficulty balancing your protein intake between the start and end of your workout, try to include foods with protein in small snacks or during breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Exercises & Activities

Lifting weights
 Fueling Your Muscles

For workouts meant to generate lean muscle mass, it is best to engage in resistance training drills and sports that target specific muscle groups, allowing you to focus on working only the arms, legs, abdominals, or chest on designated days. Keep in mind that you may not be able to do the more strenuous activities if you are suffering from a physical condition. Also, it is recommended that you have at least one person accompany you to supervise your health, stop you if necessary, or call for help.

Listed below are possible exercises to help you build muscle:

  • Bench Press
  • Resistance Band Row
  • Barbell Squat
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Hammer Curl
  • Dumbbell Lifts

For weight lifting exercises, it is recommended that you repeat at least 5-8 reps during each workout since pushing beyond this rep range will cause muscle fatigue and soreness. If you fail to reach the 5-8 reps in a row, increase the number of reps for the following workout. If you decide to push past the 5-8 reps limit, increase the weight of your barbells, dumbbells, etc.

Listed below are other activities that could help you build muscle:

  • Running
  • Soccer
  • Yoga
  • Swimming


  • How long does it take to build muscle without protein powder?

If you choose not to take any protein supplements, it should take about four to eight weeks for you to see significant gains in muscle mass. Keep in mind that you will only achieve significant muscle growth if you follow consistent workout and food schedules. Recommendations include weightlifting exercises and incorporating whole foods in your meals.

  • Is protein powder good for you?

Depending on the protein powder, it can be made from natural ingredients sourced from animals or plants. If your body is not getting enough protein from the food you eat, adding protein powder every once in a while in small amounts can ensure you get the required nutrition necessary to function. Make sure to check the ingredients list on the back, as some protein powders may contain harmful additives and metals.

  • Why are doctors against the use of protein powder?

Doctors recommend not consuming high amounts of protein powder because they may contain high sugar content that could increase blood sugar, cause weight gain, or increase the risk of heart attacks.

  1. Conclusion

Do you need protein powder in your diet to optimally build up your muscle mass? The answer is no. Protein powder is simply a nutritional additive, not a replacement for real food full of protein. Though protein powder can cap your minimum protein requirements, it cannot provide the high amounts of nutritional value most high-protein foods have. However, if you have been using protein powder for a while now, you may need to ease into exercising without it rather than suddenly going cold turkey. Go to your doctor for advice on how to proceed with muscle building without protein powder. Once you have the green light, research possible templates for high-protein diet plans, figure out which exercises you want to do, and create a plausible workout schedule you can follow. There is nothing wrong with protein powder, but you do not have to rely on it to get massive gains.

Author: Joshua Syn is a content writer at Born Tough. He is responsible for creating blog posts about seasonal fitness plans, high-protein foods, and workout clothing for men and women. These blog posts provide tips on how to improve one’s lifestyle through exercise and diet.

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