If you want to build muscle, you need to eat protein. But it's not always a "more is better" situation. Consume too much protein and you'll start storing excess calories as fat; too little and you won't be able to fuel muscle growth and recovery. "Protein needs for building muscle vary, but between 1.2 to 1.9 grams per kilogram of body weight is generally recommended," says Heather Mangieri, a sports dietitian in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Spread your protein intake throughout the course of the day, aiming for 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal and include protein with snacks, Mangieri says. That way, you'll "optimize muscle protein synthesis and enhance performance." How can you get enough protein without busting your budget? Four leading sports nutrition experts share their favorite inexpensive sources of quality protein.